Fedweek

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Post office lobbies suffer from a range of problems involving safety and security issues both for USPS employees and for members of the public, the IG at the Postal Service has said in a summary of the findings of more than a dozen reports on facility reviews over 2020-2021.

Those reviews identified a total of 728 issues across the 46 facilities visited including 416 involving maintenance and appearance, 284 health and safety, and 28 security issues, it said.

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Health and safety issues included: “possible mold on walls or floors; tripping hazards, including cluttered workroom floors, cracked concrete, extension cords across the workroom floors, holes in the ground, missing cement segments, and potholes in the parking lots; blocked exit doors and electrical panels; plumbing issues, such as exposed pipes, leaking water from toilets and sinks, and clogged drains; numerous uninspected fire extinguishers; electrical system-related problems, including damaged and non-functioning electrical switches.”

Security issues included: “unlocked postal vehicles; unlocked or propped open facility doors; broken doors or latches, or missing locks on window grates; inoperable security cameras or non-functional closed-circuit television monitors; electronic gates that did not fully close.”

Maintenance and appearance issues included: “unclean lobbies with dirty floors, dirty or damaged counters, and dead insects on floors and in light fixtures; damaged ceilings with stained, missing, or misaligned ceiling tiles; walls that needed repair or paint; damaged floors; lighting issues that included damaged light fixtures and bulbs needing replacement or which had missing covers; roofing issues, including debris and loose, missing, or damaged shingles.”

Such issues also can damage the Postal Service’s image with members of the public, since the lobby is often the only part of postal operations they see, it added.

The report said that while some steps have been taken to address recommendations following those reviews, “these actions were not effective at ensuring that employees followed policies and procedures to maintain the appearance, health and safety, and security standards at retail and delivery facilities.” Further, during selected follow-up visits, “we found new deficiencies as well as some previously identified deficiencies that management reported as corrected but were not remedied.”

“These issues occurred because the Postal Service does not have a formal and consistent process to assess if building maintenance and appearance, health and safety, and security standards are followed at retail and delivery facilities,” it said. It said that Postal Service management agreed with its recommendation that it put such a system in place, while noting that the management response also asserted that the report did not sufficiently distinguish between major and minor issues.

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