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US Postal Service Workers: Working Environment

With half a million jobs held by the United States Postal Service employees, the USPS holds the distinction of being the third-largest civilian employer in the United States after the federal government and Wal-Mart. And who wouldn’t want to work with the USPS? Despite the reported problems it is facing these past few years (closing of certain post offices and cutting down of employees), it is no secret that postal workers get competitive pay and a generous benefits package. Retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, health insurance, life insurance, and paid leaves—these are just some of the perks that regular full time career-track postal employees receive for their services.

Anyone who wishes to be postal worker must consider if he or she can hack the working environment. Contrary to popular belief, letter carriers—the friendly postman that delivers your mail—only make up one segment of the USPS workforce. Obviously, they perform their job outdoors—and they do it in any type of weather. Some of the hazards of the job include being bitten by dogs and driving in extreme temperatures like wet and icy roads. In the summer, they deliver mail under the scorching heat of the sun and risk heat stroke and, if they’re not mindful of their water intake, dehydration.

If you’re a clerk, mail sorter, processor, or mail processing machine operator, however, you generally work indoors. You will be surrounded by equipment and conveyors and will perform repetitive lifting and bending duties. Those assigned in post office windows can expect a lot of first-hand interaction with postal customers, selling them stamps and assisting them with other services offered by the USPS. Unlike other positions which require long hours of standing and walking, clerks can sit for hours at a time—provided that other postal workers perform other functions. In some smaller post offices, the responsibilities of postal workers can and do overlap.

Those assigned to be garagemen or truck- trailer operators can expect to do their work around vehicles. Garagemen maintain and repair the vehicles used by the USPS while truck-trailer operators handle heavy duty truck-trailers to transport and deliver bulk mail to various postal facilities.

Those who are assigned in management and leadership positions, such as that of a postmaster, see to it that the post office is functioning smoothly and that they are doing their original mission of delivering mail on time. These positions require a lot of paper work as they have to send various reports to the USPS.

But no matter what their working environment is, postal employees must have customer-service skills as they are apt to meet USPS clients in the performance of their jobs. They should also be physically fit as standing for long periods, walking, lifting, and bending are part of their everyday routine.