Shorter routes sought as rate of postal worker injuries rises
More than 7% of full-time postal contractors have suffered disabling injuries, according to report
UPDATE: Aug. 4, 2017 — For Canada Post's response to this story, click here.
Statistics on federal employees indicate the rate of disabling injuries to postal workers is rising, and some carriers are blaming it on expanded routes and heavier mail loads.
"I'm seeing back injuries, I'm seeing shoulders. A lot of knees and feet from pounding on the pavement all the time, lifting the heavy parcels and stuff," said Suzie Moore, health and safety officer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).
As part of Canada Post's postal transformation project, mail carriers are lugging more parcels for home delivery.
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Canada Post's shift from door-to-door delivery to community mailboxes has left mail carriers physically taxed, Moore said.
"Our routes have doubled if not tripled in size," she said.
93% jump in disabling injuries
Disabling injuries among postal workers have jumped 93 per cent in three years, a report on occupational injuries among federal employers shows.
In 2013, before door-to-door delivery ended, fewer than four out of every 100 full-time postal contractors received a disabling injury on the job.
By 2015, that number had shot up to 7.21 disabling injuries for every 100 workers. That was the highest disabling injury rate of any federal sector in that year, the report found.
CBC News requested comment from Canada Post but has not heard back.
Calls for changes
The union says it has also identified repetitive strain injuries as a problem, with more carriers slotting mail and flyers into community mailboxes.
Moore said injuries have also become more common since parcel delivery was added to the list of postal delivery responsibilities.
She said routes need to be shorter to allow carriers to work safely and efficiently.
"We need to give the workers the time they need to safely do the job, pay attention to their surroundings — and injury rates will drop," she said.
Nikki Markowsky, a mail carrier in Calgary, said she delivers everything from letters to car tires and machinery along her route, primarily involving businesses and apartments.
"It's just not the job it used to be. It's incredible," Markowsky said. "I actually had to ask for help today on a light day because my back is sore."
"If there was enough time, I could probably consider doing it a bit more safely… but there isn't enough time in the day."
CUPW, which heads back to the bargaining table this fall, said teams in every region are working to address the issue.
- This story has been updated to clarify the figures from the federal occupational injury report.Jul 27, 2017 10:50 AM MT
With files from Jennifer Lee and Andrew Brown