According to recent data, the United States Postal Service (USPS) processes 20.2 million mail pieces each hour. In other words, the USPS is responsible for processing 336,649 mail pieces each minute, and 5,611 each second. And during peak season, like Christmas, the number can double or even triple! Last year, the post office delivered nearly 16 billion packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Consequently, a USPS worker does a lot of envelope and package touching. In fact, the average postal worker delivers hundreds of mail pieces daily. Thus, it is only reasonable for some mail carriers to wear latex, rubber, or any other type of gloves.
USPS does not require postal workers to wear gloves as part of their uniform. Nonetheless, it has become increasingly common for mail carriers to choose to wear them. And although there is no definitive reason, there are many factors that play an essential role in this decision, including:
- Personal reasons
Below we will go over each one of these reasons for you to better understand why letter carriers use gloves.
Although it is unusual, a few mail carriers decide to wear gloves to work for practical purposes. Handling envelopes and packages might seem like an easy task, but the truth is, there is some science to it!
Packages can be heavy or hard to transport. The maximum mailable weight of any mail piece is 70 pounds (31 Kgs.), and boxes can measure up to 130 inches (3.30 meters). Hence, gloves are an easy fix when trying to get a better grip on these kinds of packages.
Moreover, handling all sorts of paper types and cartons can take a toll on your hands. Mail carriers have to wash the ink off their palms every few hours due to runny envelopes and newsprint. Additionally, handling paper all day long causes the skin to dry out excessively. Hence, wearing gloves while on the job keeps the hands clean and avoids overworked or sored hands.
Weather also plays an essential part in whether or not a mail carrier decides to wear gloves. In many states such as New York, Massachusetts, Washington, and Colorado, the inclement winter weather conditions may require postal workers to wear gloves for their comfort and protection. It is hard for them to do their job if they are dealing with frostbite.
Health is another factor that might motivate a mail carrier to use gloves. Why? Simple. It is no secret that a piece of mail can touch many hands and a significant number of surfaces before making its way to their satchel. Plus, when you add to the equation that people sometimes lick envelopes and that it is very easy to get infected by germs and bacteria (especially if its ‘flu season.’) the need for gloves becomes more evident!
Furthermore, gloves are the best deterrent for paper cuts. They can also help prevent tunnel carpal syndrome — a common problem resulting from exerting extra pressure to grip flat surfaces such as paper.
Last, but not least, mailboxes are home to a high number of hidden menaces. For instance, many mail carriers have reported that wasps and bees can sometimes get into mailboxes and build nests, making it dangerous for them to place their bare hands inside slots. Additionally, it is not common for mail carriers to encounter glass, liquids, or other types of trash inside public mail collectors. So, using gloves can protect them from injuring or dirtying their hands.
Another triggering factor that is closely related to health issues is safety. Many mail carriers started to wear gloves on the job after the Anthrax attacks that took place over a decade ago. And even though the security measures have evolved ever since, there still exists a rare possibility that one could get infected by malicious mail containing bacteria.
Plus, in some borderline States, there have been many incidents reported were ‘Burundanga’ or ‘Jimson weed’ (the popular name for Scopolamine) was used on letters. As a result, whoever came in contact with the infected envelope/package can suffer from memory lapses and loss of willpower.
Up until this day, it remains uncertain if this was done on purpose as a part of well-orchestrated plans to rob houses or if it was part of a trafficking scheme.
Want to know if postal workers can smoke in their trucks? Learn more here: https://civilservicehq.com/can-postal-workers-smoke-in-their-trucks/
The Anthrax Attacks
The Anthrax attacks, commonly known as Amerithrax, from its FBI case name, took place in the United States in 2001. Starting in September and throughout several weeks, letters containing Anthrax (an infection caused by a bacterium named Bacillus anthracis) were mailed. It was labeled a terrorist attack as the recipients included different media outlets and two Democratic Senators (Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy).
The Amerithrax killed five people and infected seventeen others. Unfortunately, two of the five fatal victims were postal workers who inhaled the bacteria.
Furthermore, dozens of buildings nationwide were infected, including ABC headquarters and a Manhattan building that was home to the New York Post and Fox News, thanks to the malicious mail. Nonetheless, the most affected offices were the postal facilities.
According to the FBI, the attacks not only impacted the lives of dozens of citizens but also accounted for almost $1 billion in damages.
A mail carrier may simply decide to wear gloves for personal reasons. For instance, the postal officer might:
– Suffer from skin allergies that could be triggered by the touch of certain materials.
– Have a skin disorder such as psoriasis that is characterized by the appearance of bumpy red patches covered with white scales and is not comfortable showing off his/her hands.
– Want to preserve their manicure (especially in case of female mail carriers)
As we mentioned before, health, safety, comfort, or personal reasons are the most common reasons as to why a postal worker might decide to wear gloves. Nonetheless, there are many other possible reasons and possibilities! After all, each person is unique and has their own needs, desires, and reasoning.
Gloves for Mail Carriers
A pair of gloves that do not get in the way of a postman/postwoman is sometimes hard to find. There are many things to consider when deciding on which gloves to buy or use. For example, the adequate gloves must:
– Allow dexterity for handling mail
– Have a great grip
– Be easy to take off/put on
– Stand the test of time
– Keep the hands warm/fresh depending on the weather
Hence, if you are looking to invest in a pair of gloves, look for a neoprene or insulated all-weather gloves. If you do not have a lot of money to spare, try buying fishing gloves or biker gloves. Online you will find a wide variety of brands with different prices.
Below some other frequently asked questions that might be of your interest: https://civilservicehq.com/can-postal-workers-smoke-in-their-trucks/
What is the exam for the post office?
If you are thinking of applying for a job at the United States Postal Service (e.g., postal carrier, mail handler, sorter machine operator, mail processor), you will need to pass the 473 Postal Exam.
The test is designed to asses a candidate’s abilities for performing tasks such as filling in forms, checking addresses, coding, memory, speed, reading comprehension, and accuracy. It is divided into four sections, and it usually takes two hours to complete.
Note that the minimum passing score is 70 (or above), but if you want to land the job, you should aim for a higher score. Additionally, keep in mind that the test is free of charge and that you can only take it once every six months.
How much does a postal worker make?
According to recent data, the salary of a postal worker heavily depends on their service grade and responsibilities. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in the United States, the average postal mail carrier earns $53,848 (or approximately $25.41 an hour.)
The highest paying job within the USPS is ‘Financial Analyst,’ with a yearly income of $84,000.
Can postal workers refuse to deliver your mail?
Most people may not know this, but postal workers can refuse to deliver mail to a specific address if it puts them at risk. In other words, if the mail carrier cannot safely get to the mail box or mail slot, he/she can decide to take the mail back to the post office and request you pick it up there. Although this is very unlikely, there are times where a dog might prevent the person from walking towards the mail, or it is unsafe to drive into the property due to weather conditions.
Additionally, in extreme circumstances, the post office can request a person to get a post office box and pick-up the mail themselves. Usually, these cases are related to harassment or inadequate conduct from clients. So, the postal officer has the right to refuse to deliver the mail to that particular person or property.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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