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If there is one thing common among postal workers, it’s the potential for injury that comes with the job. Letter carriers, mail handlers, and mail processing clerks are required to carry loads that can weigh as much as 70 pounds. The lifting and bending, when not done right, can lead to strains, back pains, sprains, falls, and fractures. The possibility of dog bites is a real concern among mailmen and for those who drive and operate any of the more than 200,000 postal vehicles, meeting an accident on the road is another safety issue.
In the past, postal workers have injured themselves or gotten involved in accidents. And one of their concerns is always if they will be able to get back to work after an injury. First of all, one of the perks of being a career postal employee of the USPS is that he or she is covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act or FECA. In the event that a postal employee sustains injuries while in the performance of his or her duties then the FECA provides worker’s compensation benefits.
So technically, once you are already well, and can go back to your job then you should be able to get back to your post after you get injured. But what if you are already well and would like to get back to work but cannot fully do the duties of your old post? Will you be allowed to do so?
The Postal Service has a limited duty program which seeks to give work to employees who are temporarily not able to fulfill their regular functions. As far as this matter is concerned, the USPS always seeks to give gainful employment within the medically-defined work restrictions of a particular employee. This kind of arrangement is beneficial for the recovering postal worker as it gets him or her “back to the grind” which can even hasten the recovery process. It is also good for the Postal Service because they wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of finding a permanent replacement and training him or her again – a process which can be quite costly. The problem with this limited duty program, however, is that giving returning employees work is challenged by diminishing mail volumes and limited resources for managing the case proactively.
Prevention is always better than cure. While it is comforting for USPS workers to know that they won’t be totally waylaid by an injury, they should strive to avoid these whenever they can. Leading a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious food, and exercising regularly can help postal employees avoid harm and even accidents.