National Postal Mail Handlers Union - Unity · Democracy · Strength - Division of LIUNA - AFL-CIO

National Postal Mail Handlers Union A Division of LIUNA (AFL-CIO)

Media Center / News

Oct 25

Mail Handlers Should Beware of Dangerous Mail

With the ongoing threat of pipe-bombs in the mail, the National Office of the NPMHU has been coordinating with other stakeholders, including USPS Headquarters, to minimize the safety risk for all Mail Handlers and other postal employees and postal customers.  Recent reports about explosive devices understandably create anxiety, but following safety precautions should help to relieve some of the stress.  Meanwhile, law enforcement efforts, led by the FBI, are ongoing to the maximum extent.

The Postal Service has issued a stand-up talk for mail handlers and other postal employees, aimed at identifying suspicious packages:

Employees should always exercise caution when coming across a suspicious item.  It is important . . . to review our procedures concerning suspicious mail, unknown powders, liquids or substances, and emergency situations involving smoke, fumes or vapors.  It is very important that you know how to recognize suspicious mail.  Characteristics to pay special attention to include shape, look, address and packaging.  

  • Shape – Is it lopsided or uneven?  Is it rigid or bulky?
  • Look – Are there oily stains, discolorations, or crystals on the wrapper?  Does it have a strange odor?
  • Address – Is there a return address?  Are there restrictive markings?  Are there misspelled words?  Is it addressed to a title rather than to an individual?  Is it an incorrect title?  Is it poorly typed or written?
  • Packaging – Is it sealed with tape?  Is there excessive tape?  Is there excessive postage?  

If you see a suspicious item, whether or not you think there is an immediate danger to life or safety, move to a safe area and report the item to a supervisor and call the Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455. 

If you see a suspicious item and there is an immediate danger, e.g., if you see smoke or hear sounds such as hissing, etc.), then move to a safe area and call 911, contact supervisors, and contact Postal Inspectors.

In this environment, there is no reason to take any risks.  All Mail Handlers should take all precautions and follow all protocols, to keep yourself and everyone else out of danger.

Suspicious Packages Safety Talk (pdf)


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