Rule changes

Leaky packages

The Postal Service has changed its mailing standards to better protect mail from leaks and spills.

The changes clarify Domestic Mail Manual language that specifies packaging and markings for mailpieces that contain liquids.

USPS proposed the changes last summer and invited mailers to provide feedback. The organization decided to move forward with some of the changes proposed in the notice, along with some additional revisions proposed by mailers.

For example, at the recommendation of mailers, International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) test certification is now required upon request instead of at the time of mailing.

The changes took effect March 19 when they were published in the Federal Register.

The Postal Service also proposed extending the requirement to triple package some small breakable primary containers, but the organization decided to not move forward with that proposal.

Instead, USPS will continue to monitor the frequency and impact of spills originating for small containers and determine later if standards revisions are needed.

Reducing spills is important because they can cause processing delays, result in pricey cleanup efforts, damage surrounding mailpieces and erode customer confidence in USPS.

Caught in the act

Safety

Appalachian District Manager Leeann Theriault was taking an operations training class last year when she found inspiration for a new safety awards program.

“Someone from Los Angeles gave us cards to give to our classmates who were doing well,” she says.

From that sprang the Caught in the Act of Safety Awards.

The program aims to improve workplace interactions by requiring managers to identify employees working safely and provide them with a card to recognize their efforts. Each month, all cards are placed into a drawing for a USPS polo shirt, and awardees also are photographed with the leadership team for Appalachian District’s newspaper.

The district’s seven Post Office operations managers and two plant managers each give out about 10-15 cards every month. The district, part of Eastern Area, has 800 Post Offices and about 6,800 employees.

Theriault points to safety data as proof that the program is working. So far in fiscal 2019, the district has reduced total accidents by 29.8 percent compared to the same period one year earlier, and its total accident rate and safety improvement record make it a national leader among postal districts.

Says Theriault: “We spent a lot time and effort and hours with safety. The more we spend with awareness and training saves us in the long run. It’s a win for us.”

“Best Practices,” a series on employees who demonstrate on-the-job excellence, appears regularly in Link.

Help is here

Audit help

If your department is being audited by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) or the Government Accountability Office (GAO), you should contact the USPS Corporate Audit and Response Management (CARM) team.

The Postal Service cooperates with OIG and GAO, two independent agencies that review federal spending and performance. However, CARM must coordinate the postal response to all audits, as well as OIG and GAO inquiries on operations, policies and procedures.

You should copy CARM on all email correspondence with OIG and GAO. You also should ensure the vice president or senior executive who oversees your department is aware of the audit and has an opportunity to review any responses deemed necessary.

OIG also conducts investigations into possible legal, regulatory and policy violations. CARM isn’t involved in this process, so you shouldn’t contact the CARM team unless an OIG investigator instructs you to do so.

When contacted by an investigator, you should promptly provide any information requested. If you’re unsure if the inquiry relates to an audit or an investigation, you should ask.

If you have questions or concerns, email them to CARMManager@usps.gov and a team member will respond.

Go mobile

Link Mobile

Are you mobile? The Postal Service wants managers, supervisors and others to tell craft employees about Link mobile, the Link site’s mobile-friendly version.

Link mobile offers the same content available on Link’s desktop version — including benefits information, news reports and feature stories — but in a format that’s easy to read on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

The site is helpful to employees who don’t have regular access to postal computers but want to stay in the know.

Employees can access the site at link.usps.com, and they can go to link.usps.com/about to subscribe to weekly emails with the latest Link highlights.

Are you Informed? Employees can sign up for Informed Delivery, a free feature that provides users with digital previews of their incoming mail, at informeddelivery.usps.com.

Increasing the number of subscribers will encourage more businesses to add interactive content to Informed Delivery emails, thereby boosting USPS revenue and the value of mail.

Sign-up is voluntary.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.