Watch your step

Poster showing letter carrier carefully walking down steps

With the start of the winter season just weeks away, the Postal Service wants employees to be aware of potential hazards posed by wet, icy and uneven surfaces.

USPS National Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Week is the organization’s annual campaign to raise awareness of how uneven surfaces or distracted walking can lead to injuries.

The theme of this year’s campaign is “Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Deserves Your Attention” and runs Nov. 15-21.

“Whether at work or at home, we all have to be aware of our surroundings and our footing.  No one wants to miss out on the fun things in life due to a preventable fall,” said Linda DeCarlo, occupational safety and health senior director.

The organization recently sent facilities campaign information and a schedule of employee activities.

Approximately 17,800 Postal Service employees were victims of  slip, trip or fall incidents in 2020. These incidents account for 34 percent of the organization’s reported industrial accidents.

More than 78 percent of slip, trip and fall injuries involved carrier crafts. Most of the accidents involve stepping onto a curb or on uneven sidewalks; others slipped on wet surfaces.

Employees also fell when they missed steps while exiting postal vehicles, didn’t use handrails on stairs or stepped into a hole in a customer’s yard.

Inattention was a common factor in most incidents.

Almost half of the injuries resulted after employees were at least one day away from work.

The Postal Service also wants employees to be diligent about examining their work areas for potential hazards, which should be reported to supervisors by using PS Form 1767, Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice

Supervisors are encouraged to be proactive in preventing slips, trips and falls by documenting unsafe practices, conditions and removing reported hazards in the workplace.

It’s easier being green

On Nov. 15, the Postal Service will observe America Recycles Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of conservation and recycling.

In many ways, though, every day is recycling day for the Postal Service.

One milestone came in 2013, when the organization launched the National Recycling Operation, or NRO, which streamlined postal recycling efforts nationwide.

The NRO established hubs to handle backhaul recycling, which takes advantage of existing transport equipment to bring recyclables from delivery and retail units to the hub.

During the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, more than 18,000 Post Offices, stations and branches recycled more than 175,000 tons of undeliverable Marketing Mail via their service hubs. (In 2020, some of it was even turned into insulation.)

Cardboard recycling, in particular, has surged as a result of the increase in package deliveries. In the past five years, it has increased from 20,000 tons to 65,000 tons.

“The increase in the quantity of cardboard in our operations provides new business opportunities to improve handling efficiency, reduce waste and generate recycling revenue,” said Jennifer Beiro-Réveillé, Environmental Affairs and Corporate Responsibility senior director.

Recycling is only part of the Postal Service’s sustainability efforts, however. The organization also uses solar panels to power some facilities and hydrogen fuel cells to juice up forklifts.

USPS is also making a significant investment in fuel-efficient vehicles.

In addition, the Postal Service has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency for several years, including programs to reduce and divert waste.

“We are continuing to look for innovative and impactful ways to protect the environment and improve our bottom line. The communities we serve have an expectation that the Postal Service will continue to do its part as a leader in environmental stewardship,” Beiro-Réveillé said.

The Environmental Affairs and Corporate Sustainability Blue page has more information on the Postal Service’s recycling efforts.

Big four

Four surgeons stand in operating room

Do you understand the different types of health plans available to you?

You can enroll in one of four types of plans during open season, the annual period when Postal Service employees can make changes to their health coverage.

The plan types are:

• Health maintenance organizations, which provide care from in-network plan physicians and hospitals located in particular geographic or service areas;

• Preferred provider organizations, which offer fee-for-service plans that allow you to choose physicians, hospitals and other health care providers both inside and outside of a network;

• Consumer-driven health plans, which give users freedom in spending health care dollars and offer plan-funded health reimbursement arrangements that may be used to pay certain upfront medical costs; and

• High-deductible health plans, which offer comprehensive coverage for high-cost medical procedures and a tax break to save for future medical expenses through health savings accounts.

USPS wants you to learn about the available plans to find one that best fits your needs and the needs of your family.

This year’s open season runs from Nov. 8-Dec. 13.

Open season is also a good time to review and update your PostalEASE login information and beneficiary forms.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has additional information, as well as a link to Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, a resource that can help you evaluate and compare specific plans.

Relocation reimbursements

Real estate agent is excited to show prospective buyers a new home

The Postal Service wants employees to remember that relocation expense requests submitted after Nov. 19 will be processed for payment on Jan. 3, 2022.

This deadline will ensure that the organization has adequate time to record and report all relocation expenses for 2021 tax purposes.

Employees should refer any questions to their relocation counselor or send an email to the USPS relocation team.

The Relocation Blue page also has information regarding this deadline.