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Postal workers really do not feel safe

Nguyen "Jimmy" Minh, staff of the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years, poses for a portrait in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2020.
Reuters/Leah Millis
Risky business.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City


It’s only two weeks until Election Day in the US. Many deadlines for requesting absentee ballots are approaching, and voters in states that won’t accept mail-in ballots after Nov. 3 have to rush to send in their vote. The work of the Postal Service and its employees are absolutely essential to ensure the smooth functioning of this election.

As an essential service, post offices have stayed open since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and deliveries have continued. However, according to postal workers, the safety measures to protect postal workers haven’t been adequate: Out of a workforce of about half a million, more than 50,000 have taken time off because of Covid-19, and the alarm over unsafe work conditions has been ringing since the beginning of the crisis.

In fact, it’s only gotten worse: Complaints by postal workers registered by the Occupation Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) have climbed since April, when there were less than 150 a day, to more than 500 a day earlier this month. Only hospital workers, who are registering nearly 700 complaints a day (out of a workforce of more than 5 million) feel more unsafe.

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