Postmaster: Safety concerns behind switch to centralized mailbox locations
LEAD — The U.S. Postal Service will discontinue home delivery service to 533 addresses in Lead and 218 in Deadwood next month in favor of delivering to multiple centralized locations due to employee safety concerns.
Laura Uhrig, postmaster of the combined Lead-Deadwood Post Office, made the announcement at a Lead City Commission meeting Monday night. She said the decision to discontinue home delivery service to 25 percent of Lead’s 1,739 total possible delivery addresses and 20 percent of Deadwood’s 971 total possible delivery addresses was motivated by the occurrence of seven reportable injuries to postal delivery workers in specific sections of the communities since August 2011.
Uhrig specified that one of those seven carriers was on medical leave for 11 months to recover from a fall on his route. The latest injury occurred last week when another carrier fell and sustained a mild concussion.
“The sidewalks in these areas — if there are sidewalks — are crumbling and uneven. In some of these areas we’re walking in the middle of dirt roads. And in other places the streets aren’t a one way but they are one lane,” Uhrig explained.
This shift in mail delivery has been on the table since December 2012, and city officials in both Lead and Deadwood were informed of the pending change at that time.
This isn’t the first time the postal service discontinued home delivery service in sections of the two Northern Hills communities. Fifty-seven addresses in Lead and 66 in Deadwood currently receive mail in centralized mail collection box units. Uhrig said she wasn’t certain exactly when those addresses switched from home to centralized delivery, as those changes occurred before she came on as postmaster in the summer of 2011.
The new centralized mail delivery/pickup locations will be placed on level, paved locations on city-owned property and will feature metal collection box units comprised of multiple locked mailboxes and one outgoing mailbox, akin to those utilized at some apartment complexes.
Customers at the addresses in question will receive three keys for their individual mailbox. Uhrig said the postal service will not keep any additional keys for these individual mailboxes, but residents are free to make duplicate keys themselves.
The units will also have one or two parcel lockers for packages, depending on the size of unit. If a resident receives a package, the mail carrier will deposit it in the parcel locker and place a key to the locker in the resident’s mailbox. Packages that won’t fit in the locker will be delivered to the resident’s home. If the resident isn’t home at the time of delivery, the carrier will leave a notice that another attempt to deliver the package will be made on the next business day. Residents also have the option of arranging pick up of the package(s) at the post office.
There is a hardship mail delivery program the elderly, disabled, or temporarily handicapped may apply for, Uhrig said. But acceptance into this program is not guaranteed upon receipt of application.
“Delivery to the address will be considered if it will impose extreme physical hardship to the individual customer,” Uhrig said, reading from an official U.S. Postal Service document.
Applications for the hardship mail delivery program must be submitted in writing, and the postal service may request a physician’s statement or similar documentation to explain the situation before, Uhrig added.
The new collection box units will be posted on city property in spots selected for optimal mail carrier safety and convenience of access for customers.
This switch of delivery services will not cost the cities of Lead or Deadwood any money. The postal service will be responsible for snow removal at the sites in the winter months.
“The number one reason we’re doing this is the safety, and it’s for the safety of the postal employees,” Uhrig said. “As the postmaster, it’s my responsibility that my employees go home the same way they came to work.”
Uhrig stated that every year, the U.S. Postal Service pays out more than $2 million in worker’s compensation claims. She also pointed out that if a mail carrier were to fall and sustain an injury on a customer’s property that the customer is legally responsible for the carrier’s medical expenses. Switching from door-to-door mail delivery to centralized location delivery eliminates the possibility that such a situation might occur in Lead.
This change in delivery service will take effect sometime in October, Uhrig said. She also specified that no postal service employees will lose their jobs as a result of this change in service.
Residents at addresses scheduled to switch to centralized delivery will receive notices from the post office later this month that include details on the new system and the location of the new centralized collection box units.
The specific locations of Deadwood’s new centralized mailbox units have not yet been released. The Lead-Deadwood Post Office supplied the following location descriptions for Lead’s new centralized mailbox units:
- Miner’s Avenue — Parking lot across from Handley Center
- Prospect Avenue — Near fire hydrant on west side of the street
- Deer Path — “Wide area”
- Hearst Avenue — Across from cemetery
- Intersection of Hearst Avenue and Mountain View Drive — Uhrig property
- Intersection of Alert and Julius streets — Southeast corner
- City Hall
- Intersection of Siever and Julius Streets — Near fire hydrant in parking lot
- Top of May Street
- McClellan Street — McClellan pump house
- Hill Street — North of Becker’s property
- Corner of 524 W. Summit St. or 508 Grand St.
- Intersection of Spark and Summit streets — South along guardrail
- Lot between 216 E. Sawyer St. and Summit St.
- Paved pad on East Hill Street near 402 Sawyer St.
- Intersection of High and Gold Streets — Old railroad tracks across from 501 Gold St.
- Intersection of Bleeker and East McClellan streets — Sidewalk besides utility pole
- Intersection of White and Washington streets — Beside street sign on southeast corner
- Enos Street — Beside stop sign on southeast corner
- Intersection of Fox and Washington streets — Near utility pole on southeast corner
- Intersection of Grandview and Washington streets — Near sign on Grandview Street