USPS OIG Report: Facility Condition Reviews ― Pacific Area

Background

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has more than 30,000 leased and owned retail facilities nationwide. Over 1,600 of these facilities are in the Pacific Area. The post office lobby is the principal business office of the USPS. The lobby’s appearance directly affects the USPS’ image because it is the only close-up view of postal operations for many customers. The USPS must maintain a safe environment for employees and customers and follow safety laws set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Our objective was to determine if USPS management adhered to building maintenance, safety and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at retail facilities. We reviewed 56 facilities in the Pacific Area and assessed items related to building safety, security, maintenance, customer complaints, workplace environment, and workplace violence. We also assessed whether each facility was handicap accessible.

This is the sixth in a series of audits assessing retail facility conditions nationwide.

What the OIG Found

The USPS must improve adherence to building maintenance, safety and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at its its retail facilities. We reviewed 56 facilities and found:

  • Twenty-five (45 percent) had building safety and security issues;
  • Twenty-five (45 percent) had potential fineable OSHA violations;
  • Thirty-six (64 percent) had cleanliness and maintenance issues;
  • Thirty-four (61 percent) did not maintain a customer complaint log or monitor how promptly complaints are resolved;
  • Fifty-two (93 percent) did not display workplace environment posters such as those that inform employees what to do when injured at work;
  • Twenty (36 percent) did not display workplace violence posters, such as Zero Tolerance Policy and Reporting Procedures; and
  • Three (5 percent) handicap areas needed maintenance or repairs.

Issues related to building safety, security, and maintenance occurred because of competing priorities and local management’s failure to focus on cleaning, general maintenance and repairs, and housekeeping inspections. In addition, management did not provide sufficient oversight of, communicate with, or train employees effectively regarding requirements for reporting deficiencies; completing inspections and facility maintenance; the need to maintain a customer complaint log; or the need to display required posters.

Attention to these areas could reduce the risk of injuries to customers and employees and related costs, such as workers’ compensation claims, loss of work and productivity, lawsuits, and OSHA fines and penalties. It could also improve employee morale and reduce employee turnover. Poorly maintained and unappealing lobbies can also reduce brand loyalty, which impacts revenue.

Local management took corrective action by immediately addressing certain deficiencies brought to their attention during our site visits, such as displaying missing posters and providing unrestricted access to fire extinguishers and electrical panels.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management develop and implement an action plan to address all issues identified during our audit and direct retail facilities personnel and district management to timely input all applicable issues into the electronic Facilities Management System and monitor the repair status of all reported issues, respectively. We also recommended management provide oversight to ensure compliance with policies and procedures relating to maintenance, security and safety standards, and customer complaint resolution. We further recommended management provide safety inspection training.

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