The USPS Begins Initiatives For Protecting Its Workers From The CoronavirusawsDONOTREMOVE
The USPS has began starting initiatives for protecting its workers from being infected by coronavirus, including the use of widespread testing and temperature readings at pivotal postal facilities.
The agency has taken a huge blow due to the pandemic, with over 2400 workers presumed or testing positive for the infection. Over 17,000 employees have also had to be quarantined due to potential exposure, which is around 3% of the organization’s 630,000-strong workforce. Over 70% of these workers are now fit to resume work. 60 postal workers have died so far due to coronavirus-related symptoms.
The USPS is currently working alongside employee unions to record the temperatures of workers when they show up for work, either when they enter the building, or before they enter their cars, or after they’re seated in them. The temperature readings will be completely voluntary, and workers will be allowed to go home if their temperature exceeds 100.4 degree Fahrenheit. This initiative will be launched in 1 facility in Oklahoma City and 3 facilities in Virginia.
The administration is checking the potential feasibility of scaling up this program and are currently testing whether their equipment would be enough to take on this challenge. Multiple unions have announced that they’re working along with the USPS for determining the right safety procedures.
National Postal Mail Handlers Union president Paul Hogrogian stated that more protections will have to be placed in effect as formerly sick and quarantined workers come back to work.
The USPS has assured emergency administrative leave or paid sick leave to all employees who are sent home as a result of high temperature readings. Some supervisors have been giving mixed signals regarding sick leave eligibility for employees who need to look after dependent children, or those who have had contact with a coronavirus-positive person, or those who are in a vulnerable segment of the population. USPS has agreed to allow a liberal leave policy, which provides workers with access to free annual leave to make use of, in case they don’t feel comfortable coming in to work. They can also use administrative leave for compulsory quarantine and sick leave in case they need to care for their children.
With these agreements set to expire soon, the unions are now negotiating with the management for another extension of these terms.
The USPS has started testing different face covering types at Southern postal outposts, which can help employees remain safe as temperatures rise during the summer. These face coverings include cooling masks, bandanas, and neck gaiters. Letter carriers were found to prefer the bandana and gaiter-type masks, leading USPS officials to place more orders for face coverings of these styles. While the USPS had initially faced major challenges in distributing and procuring protective supplies and equipment to its employees, these concerns have now been alleviated, it said.
Hogrogian stated that the US postal management had been extremely cooperative in their negotiations with the union to solve the problems plaguing their members due to the current pandemic.