The Postal Service “has not implemented specific measures to prepare its entire workforce for risks posed by synthetic opioids shipped through the mail,” an IG report has said.
The USPS considers its standard practices for handling potentially dangerous packages to be sufficient, but “different types of substances, such as synthetic opioids, can pose differing levels of risk,” it said. “Any mailpiece containing synthetic opioids is a potential danger to those who are involved in the acceptance, processing, and delivery of mail.”
It said that while the agency has taken steps to educate and protect Postal Inspection Service inspectors regarding synthetic opioid exposure, it has not done the same for other employees–and they are not always adhering to standard protocols, it said, finding 18 instances of deviation from those procedures out of 97 incidents it reviewed. In one, a supervisor reportedly instructed employees to continue running mail processing equipment without properly responding to suspicious white powder that had leaked from the mail onto the equipment.
“Further, there was no formal guidance communicating mandatory requirements to conduct suspicious mail stand-up talks at a prescribed frequency, no method for identifying who should receive the stand-up talk, and no formal procedure for certifying completion of stand-up talks. Without a strategic approach to addressing the risks of exposure to opioids in the mail –including clear, specific communication, education, and training — the Postal Service is not taking every precaution to ensure the safety and health of its employees,” it said.