OKLAHOMA — In 2018, an average of 51 mail carriers per day in the U.S. Postal Service were injured due to an unforeseen slip, trip or fall— and many of the incidents occurred as a result of unsafe or hazardous conditions on their mail routes. Slips, trips and falls often lead to carriers needing time off to heal, which can cause delays or interruptions in mail delivery. And they could have been prevented.

For example: Martha Walker, a letter carrier from Woodbridge, VA, was delivering mail on foot walking across a lawn on a stormy day when she fell into a hole hidden by tall grass on a customer’s property. “It happened so fast, I sunk all the way down to my knee,” she said. “As a result I missed work and my favorite hobby, kayaking, for a while.” 

Property owners could be liable if a carrier falls because of unsafe conditions on their properties. Costs include medical expenses and repayment of lost work hours, which can total thousands of dollars. The Postal Service makes the safety of its employees a top priority. The week of Oct. 26 through Nov. 1 is dedicated to fall prevention awareness.

Here are four simple tips to prevent slips, trips and falls by mail carriers and others on private property year round:

Inspect the path 

Walk the path your carrier takes along your property to identify hazards. This may be an entrance that you use less often. You may not realize that there is a hazard present.  Replace doormats that roll up along the edges, and use rubber-backed mats to prevent them from sliding. Ensure there is adequate lighting along the walking path.

 

Repair hazards

Cracks in steps and porches, loose railing, uneven sidewalk joints and loose bricks or blocks in the walkway can be caused by deterioration over time. Water is a main culprit. Check drainage slopes and look for pooling areas, as this will also prevent slippery ice spots in the winter. Make repairs as quickly as possible. If you are not able to make the repair, block off the area or add paint to an uneven surface to bring attention to it.

 

Control slippery surfaces 

Leaves, rain and ice can all pose serious fall hazards. Keep leaves off walking paths, use sand in paint for traction on porches, and clear the ice and snow from the path your carrier takes.

 

Be informed

Postal customers with access to postal notification features, such as Informed Delivery for letter mail and package tracking, are urged to use these features to determine if mail is expected that day, and to ensure a path has been adequately cleared for the carrier to make a safe delivery. Expecting a package delivery on a Sunday? Postal officials urge residents and business owners to clear delivery paths of hazards throughout the weekend.

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