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USPS asks residents to shovel sidewalks, steps for mail carriers

By Jed Boal | Posted - Dec. 6, 2013 at 7:49 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — The United States Postal Service has a theme: "Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night stays these carriers." But, if they feel that the conditions are unsafe because sidewalks have not been shoveled, the mail may be delayed.

Letter carriers are advised to use good judgment when attempting to deliver to addresses where ice and snow are not cleared. They are instructed to refrain from delivering to locations they deem too hazardous.

"We're happy to do this job for you guys, but please help us out," said postal carrier Ana Bazan.

With more snow in the forecast for Saturday and frigid temperatures sticking around, slippery ice and snow have become a real hazard for mail carriers across the region.

Bazan said she can handle the bitter cold: she keeps moving and loves her job. However, if people don't clear the snow and ice from driveways and steps, it can be downright dangerous.

"We try to do it as safely as we can, but it's impossible. Look, they haven't cleaned this at all," Bazan said while stomping through ankle-deep snow on the sidewalk.

She said she understands that people can't clear the walks immediately, and we all run into delays. But, icy steps three days after a storm can lead to a bad fall. Among 36 carriers in Bazan's post office, 14 were injured in falls in 2012.

Safety protocol for having mail carriers deliver:
  • Customers are asked to clear snow from curbside boxes at least six feet on both sides of the mailbox so the carrier may approach and leave without backing up his or her vehicle.
  • Walkways need to be cleared so as to allow enough traction to avoid slips, trips and falls.
  • Steps — especially painted wood — must be kept clear of ice and snow and in good repair.
  • Overhangs must be clear and free of snow and ice to avoid injury.

She said they're eager to deliver holiday packages and cards, but with new protocol in 2013, if they can't get to your box safely, you may not receive mail that day. It's up to the carrier's discretion.

The postal services asks that the snow be cleared away from curbside boxes, and walkways. Steps must also be clear of ice, and in good repair. Overhangs must be free of snow and ice to avoid injury.

"There are customers who just don't do it," Bazan said. "So, we have to hold the delivery for them."

In Salt Lake County, property owners are supposed to clear snow within 12 hours of the end of a storm. In Salt Lake City, the procedure is to shovel within 24 hours of a storm.

"Shovel the snow," Bazan said. "Put some salt on it, so we can deliver your mail, your Christmas cards, your presents."

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Jed Boal

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