Fedweek

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Non-career employees at USPS suffer more injuries than career employees, GAO has said, recommending that the agency delve into the causes of the difference and seek ways to reduce injury rates.

GAO said that after controlling for other factors such as length of service, injury rates have been higher over the last five years as measured either by reported on-the-job injuries or by claims for workers’ compensation under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. For the former measure, the difference was between about 12 percent for non-career employees vs. 8 percent for career employees annually; for the latter measure, it was between about 10 and 7 percent.

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Non-career employees receive lower pay and fewer benefits and are often hired on renewable contracts, some of which offer a pathway to a career position.

“Representatives of postal unions and management associations, as well as USPS, told us that these higher injury rates, at least in part, can be attributed to the fact that non-career employees are often new” and more likely to make mistakes that lead to injury, it said. “They also told us that newer employees are more likely to report injuries—even minor injuries—because reporting all accidents and injuries is highly emphasized in training for new employees.”

“USPS regularly collects and analyzes workplace accident and injury data across its workforce and has taken steps in recent years to improve safety through training and other actions. However, USPS does not identify key differences between career and non-career employees in its analyses. Without conducting analyses by career status, USPS may be unable to identify some causes of non-career employee injuries and miss opportunities to reduce them,” a report said.

It said that Postal Service accepted its recommendation “and noted that future analysis of injuries by career status can enhance accident analysis and the development of training initiatives.”

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