Davis Velazquez
Director of Safety and Health
Outlook November / December 2019

1767 & Darkness

Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like we would rather not get involved in certain issues. But when it comes to our safety, and the safety of our coworkers, we need to make every effort to get involved to make sure safety concerns are identified and corrected. Safety is everybody’s business. As safety captains and shop stewards we need to practice and preach safety to the letter carriers we represent.

Article 14.1 in the JCAM (Joint Contact Administration Manual) clearly states: “It is management responsibility to provide safe working conditions in all present and future installations and to develop a safe work force.”

This does not mean we allow management to dictate what is safe, but quite the contrary. Like other provisions of the contract, the union must police it. Working in the dark is one provision that should be policed by everyone.

Normally, letter carriers deliver mail during the daylight hours. However, daylight savings time means turning back the clock at this time of year so carriers are once again delivering mail in the dark. This situation causes issues every year. Furthermore, there is no provision which would preclude management from assigning carriers to deliver mail in other than daylight hours. This means you may wind up working in the dark. Arbitrators have ruled that darkness, in and of itself, is not unsafe. However, darkness can contribute to unsafe situations. Streetlights not working properly might cause a carrier to stumble on cracked sidewalks. Houses or apartment dwellings that are not well lit are problematic. High crime areas are of major concern in the dark. You can have problems delivering to cluster boxes. If you choose to bring back the mail, inform management. In addition, you should request form 1571 to document your reasons for non-delivery of mail. Also fill out form 1767 and document the unsafe condition. Workplace safety is a joint effort.

Article 14.1 states, “The union will cooperate with and assist management to live up to this responsibility.

If a letter carrier believes he/she is being required to work under unsafe conditions, the employee should notify the supervisor who will immediately investigate the condition and take corrective action if necessary. The carrier should also notify the shop steward who may discuss the unsafe condition with the supervisor. Though not required, reporting safety hazards should be done in writing to begin a paper trail.

Article 14 requires that management shall make available at each installation Form 1767, to be used by employees in reporting unsafe and unhealthful conditions.

This form provides a paper trail of an unsafe condition. When a letter carrier or the representative of a carrier believes an unsafe or unhealthful condition exists; he/she may do any of the following:
a. File a report of the condition on form 1767 with the immediate supervisor and request an inspection of the alleged condition;
b. If the employee desires anonymity, he can have the safety captain file form 1767, who will give the report to the immediate supervisor for necessary action;
c. Report the alleged unsafe condition to a steward, who may then discuss the condition with the employee’s supervisor.
Once an unsafe or unhealthful condition is reported, the immediate supervisor must promptly (within the tour of duty):
A. Investigate the alleged condition;
B. Initiate immediate corrective action or make appropriate recommendations;
C. Record actions or recommendations on PS Form 1767;
D. Forward the original PS Form 1767 and one copy to the next appropriate level of management;
E. Give the employee a copy signed by the supervisor as a receipt;
F. Immediately forward the third copy to the safety office.

In addition to completing a Form 1767, Article 14.2c. states that the employee may file a grievance at Formal Step A of the grievance procedure within fourteen days of notifying the employee’s supervisor if no corrective action is taken during the employee’s tour.

It should be noted that retaliation against an employee for reporting a safety and health hazard is unlawful, and OSHA has a whistleblower process which you may utilize to protect yourself.

Unreported safety issues are accidents waiting to happen. When we practice and preach safety, the injuries we help avoid may be our own. Remember, you are your most important delivery. Safety Depends on You.

Outlook September / October 2019

Peak Season

Peak season is once again around the corner. What does that mean for the average letter carrier? For one thing, it means longer work days. Shortly, we will be turning our clocks back one hour for daylight savings time, which actually means longer nights and shorter day light hours.

Peak season places the average letter carrier in a position to be working in the dark much earlier. Whether you’re driving a postal vehicle or delivering mail on foot, one must be attentive while working in the dark. Some of us will be working a lot of overtime, while others will be forced to work overtime to meet the demands stemming from peak season. While Peak season may be profitable for the postal service, it could mean unsafe conditions for the average letter carrier.

Parcel Post and Combination Drivers will be utilizing their vehicles longer and that causes a lot of wear and tear on our vehicles. That is why it is imperative to conduct a vehicle safety check on a daily basis. Make sure that the vehicle you’re driving is in proper working condition. All letter carriers driving a postal vehicle should be performing an Expanded Vehicle Safety Checklist (Notice 76) prior to operating any postal vehicle. There are 24 items listed on the Notice 76 that need to be conducted. Report deficiencies, body damage or inoperable parts to your supervisor using Form 4565 (Vehicle Repair Tag). That will ensure that the condition can be corrected or another vehicle can be provided. You need to be vigilant and hold management accountable for not only your safety, but also for the safety of the public. If management fails to properly service the vehicle or assigns it to another letter carrier a form 1767 should be filed. The form should state that management failed to properly service an unsafe vehicle and by doing so is placing our employees and the general public in harm’s way. If necessary, you might have to follow up with a Safety Grievance.

Another reason you should conduct the vehicle safety check is in the event someone else uses the vehicle after you because it might not be in the same condition you left it in. If you’re being forced to drive a vehicle that you deem unsafe, quickly file PS form 1767, in addition to the vehicle repair tag. Inform your shop steward of your supervisor’s actions, who will then file a grievance on your behalf.

Newly hired CCA’s: if you do not feel confident behind the wheel, do not hesitate to request a Refresher Driver Training Course from management. Drive safely and defensively at all times and remember that you are your most important delivery. Safety depends on you.

Outlook July / August 2019

Zero Tolerance

Letter Carriers, as US Postal Service employees, have the right to perform their assigned duties in an atmosphere free of threats, assaults or other acts of workplace violence. The Postal Service has the obligation to ensure a safe working environment for all employees.

More than 20 years ago, as a result of a very sad moment in our history, we developed the Joint Statement of Violence and Behavior in the Workplace. The Joint Statement of Violence is a contractually enforceable agreement between the NALC and the USPS.

Letter Carriers are continuously being confronted with the misconduct of disrespectful managers. Some make threats to an individual’s job security. Therefore, it is important to remember that threats or assaults made directly or indirectly toward any employee of the USPS will not be tolerated. This misconduct causes a very real concern and/or apprehension on the part of the employee to whom this type of action is directed. This Zero Tolerance Policy places all employees on notice that threats, assaults or other acts of violence committed against other Postal Service employees will result in corrective action and may include removal from the Postal Service.

Letter Carriers should report any unusual situation that has the potential to cause workplace violence such as threats to your shop steward. Threats of suicide are considered acts of violence as well. All reports to the Inspection Service at the request of the employee will be handled anonymously.
Below are definitions to help you understand and clarify when a threat, assault, or other act of workplace violence has occurred:

Threat: A statement or act that carries the intention to inflict harm or injury on any person, or on his or her property. Threats also include: words or actions intended to intimidate another person or to interfere with the performance of his or her official duties

Assault: Any willful attempt to inflict injury upon the person or another, when coupled with an apparent ability to do so, or any intentional display of force that would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.

The following citations are from handbooks, which are enforceable through Article 19:

M-39 Section 115-4 Maintain Mutual Respect Atmosphere
The National Agreement sets out the basic rules and rights governing management and employees in their dealings with each other, but it is the front-line manager who controls management’s attempt to maintain an atmosphere between employer and employee which assures mutual respect for each other’s rights and responsibilities.

ELM, Section 665.16 Behavior and Personal Habits
Employees are expected to maintain harmonious working relationships and not to do anything that would contribute to an unpleasant working environment.

ELM, Section 665-24 Violent and/or Threatening Behavior
The Postal Service is committed to the principle that all employees have a basic right to a safe and humane working environment. In order to ensure this right, it is the unequivocal policy of the Postal Service that there must be no tolerance of violence or threats of violence by anyone, at any level of the Postal Service. Similarly, there must be no tolerance of harassment, intimidation, threats, or bullying by anyone at any level. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action, including removal from the Postal Service

M-01242) Joint Statement of Violence and behavior in the Workplace:
(M-01243) Second Joint Statement of Violence and behavior in the Workplace:
If any portion of the joint statement was violated by the behavior that we are objecting to, you need to identify which section was in fact violated and what behavior was in violation. National Arbitrator Snow determined that the JSOV was enforceable through our grievance procedure (Article 15), and that an arbitrator has the authority to remedy a proven violation, including removing a supervisor from his duties.The grievance procedure must be used to put a stop to the inappropriate behavior of those managers who violate the rights mentioned in the above cited rules.
Hope you all are having a safe and happy summer. Always remember: Safety depends on me. You are your most important delivery!

Outlook May / June 2019


In keeping with the postal service’s dedication to safety as a core value, the postal service has designed a comprehensive HIPP (Heat Illness Prevention Program). This program contains training to ensure that carriers are protected against heat related illnesses. It teaches how to quickly recognize the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses and to plan for and respond to a heat-related emergency. Be sure to review the poster in your office and feel free to ask your supervisor for a copy of the program.

It is important that you do not let your guards down while delivering mail in the summer heat. Extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard. Each year more than 65,000 people seek medical treatment for extreme heat exposure.

Over the next few months, letter carriers will be required to work briefly or sometimes for sustained periods of time in hot weather conditions and face certain heat related hazards. Regardless of age or physical condition, it is important to avoid overexertion in the summer heat. Hot weather can put a strain on your heart with or without exercise.

During 2018, there were 101 heat safety related injuries reported to our Resident Officer (Director of Safety and Health) Manuel L. Peralta. On the downside, there were more than 200 heat related injuries in 2018 that were not reported to Manny or to our national business agents. If you experience a heat safety event, please fill out an “initial heat injury report” form and have your shop steward send it to Manny Peralta and to your National Business Agent Larry Cirelli. You can ask your shop steward for the report or you can find a copy on the NALC Safety and Health page in the section titled “Enforcing heat safety rules.

Being uncomfortable is not the major problem letter carriers face working in high temperatures and high humidity. Letter carriers exposed to working in a hot environment face additional and generally unavoidable hazards to their safety and health.

Be cautious when you are delivering your routes. Don’t let yourself be overcome by the hot weather. Watch out for heat related problems such as: heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the incidence of these illnesses.

In the course of a day’s work in the heat, a letter carrier may produce as much as 2 to 3 gallons of sweat. Because so many heat disorders involve excessive dehydration of the body, it is essential that water intake during the workday be about equal to the amount of sweat produced. Most letter carriers exposed to hot conditions drink fewer fluids than needed because of an insufficient thirst drive. Therefore, letter carriers should not depend on thirst to signal when or how much to drink. Instead the carrier should drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluids, every 15 to 20 minutes to replenish the body. There is no optimum temperature of drinking fluids; but most people prefer cool ones over warm or cold drinks. Whatever the temperature of the water, it must be pleasant and readily available for the worker.

I urge all letter carriers to be aware of the following symptoms: dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, or dry pale skin without sweating. Be prepared and stay hydrated. Call 911 for immediate medical attention if you feel symptoms of a heat related illness.

Safety Captains get started on your summertime concerns. On your next Safety and Health Committee Meeting you should discuss what actions or plans to put in place, in the event that the air-condition system fails to operate, during the summertime heat. Such plans should consist of: providing fans on the work floor, refreshments and frequent breaks to help stay cool. Remember, when the AC fails, management needs to take immediate action to have it repaired. Do not wait until the AC system fails to start these conversations. Most important, don’t forget to file form 1767.

Always remember you are your most important delivery. Have a safe and happy summer. Happy Father’s Day

Outlook March / April 2019
LDC 23 Vehicle Safety
The postal vehicle is a welcomed and trusted sight in all residential and business communities because it signals that we are doing what we do best, delivering postal products. The increase in parcel volume raises the amount of postal vehicles and parcel post assignments needed. Now more than ever these vehicles remain on the road longer. In order to continue meeting this standard, it is imperative that the postal service maintains these vehicles in proper working condition. The safety of our letter carriers, as well as, the public is paramount. Preventive maintenance starts with you, the driver. You should be performing a daily vehicle inspection before and after driving and performing your postal duties.

A vehicle inspection check list, titled “Expanded Vehicle Safety Check”, (Notice 76) can be found in the M-41, section 832. The check list includes the following guidelines: 1. Inspect under vehicle for fluid leaks. 2. Inspect front tires for uneven wear and under-inflation. 3. Check that hood can be latched securely. 4. Check front for body damage. 5. Check left side for body damage. 6. Check left door lock (check for complete accident report kit if stowed on inside left of vehicle). 7. Check for rear-end leaks. 8. Check all rear tires for inflation and wear. 9. Check rear for body damage. 10. Check rear door lock. 11. Check right side for body damage. 12. Check right-side door lock(s). 13. Open door and move into driving position. 14. Check for complete accident report kit. 15. Start engine.16. With assistance, adjust pot-lid mirrors and rear-view mirrors. 17. With assistance, check headlights, taillights, brake lights, flashers, and directional signals (front and rear). 18. Adjust center rear-view mirror.19. Check operation of windshield wipers and washer. 20. Check operation of horn 21. Inspect gauges for proper operation. 22. Check foot brake. 23. Check emergency brake. 24. Check seat belt and fasten.

Drivers are to report all defects /failures immediately to management using Postal Forms (PS) form 4565, “Vehicle repair tag”. Drivers are to receive their signed copy of PS Form 4565 as proof that defects/failures were reported. Management is required to report all safety defects/failures immediately to maintenance for abatement before the vehicle is used. If management fails to send the vehicle for repairs and instructs you to use the vehicle under these conditions you should file PS Form 1767 and have your shop steward filed a grievance. One order you may refuse is one that is given that places you in a position to perform an unsafe act. Safety Depends on You. You are your most important delivery.

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