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Postal Service crash problem: It's having a lot of accidents, and isn't reporting them

The USPS internal watchdog warns the failure to report accidents accurately could mean many unsafe vehicles are on the road.

Updated: September 4, 2021 - 11:20pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

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The U.S. Postal Service had more than 144,000 vehicle crashes and more than 300,000 industrial accidents over the last five years, but most were not properly reported in the required tracking systems, according to a new investigative report by the service's internal watchdog. 

The report last week by the inspector general laid bare the extent of accidents — there were nearly $130 million in repairs since 2016 — as well as a laissez faire culture inside the Postal Service for ensuring required documentation for crashes and workplace accidents in the Employee Health and Safety and Solution for Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM) systems. 
 
"Of the 147,192 nationwide accident repair-related work orders completed in SEAM, 108,126 (73 percent) did not have corresponding accident reports in EHS," the report said. "Also, there were 23,301 (14 percent) accidents not reported in EHS within 24 hours of notification of the accident/injury."
 
You can read the full report here: 
 
 
The Inspector General  raised the possibility that the lack of reporting meant some vehicles did not get repaired and could be unsafe on the roads.
 
"Unreported damage to vehicles could lead to unrepaired vehicles, drivers operating vehicles with undetected safety hazards, and a poor reflection on the Postal Service's brand and image to the public," the IG said.
 
"Furthermore, by not reconciling and tracking accident-related activity, it was impossible for management to accurately manage motor vehicle repair costs stemming from accidents."
 
The IG said the problems were "due to a variety of reasons, such as unclear or contradictory guidance; and limitations within systems used to track accident, injury, claim, maintenance, and repair information."
 
The Postal Service said it agreed with most of the IG's recommendations for improving the situation and noted it has a new reporting system that is coming into operation in October. It promised robust training and restatement of policies to ensure better reporting in the future.