USPS steps up internal comms efforts in wake of anthrax deaths

Washington: With two postal workers confirmed dead of anthrax and

more than 2,000 being tested for exposure at press time, internal

communications at the US Postal Service (USPS) has gone into high

gear.



The public/private agency has 800,000 people on its payroll, making it

the second-largest US employer behind Wal-Mart.



David West, writer/editor of USPS publications, said the postal service

added breaking news updates as needed to its existing employee outreach

mechanisms. Internal media includes two electronic newsletters, intranet

and internet postings, broadcast fax, and a round-the-clock cafeteria

and break-room TV service.



A six-month-old toll-free phone service is now offering abbreviated

information from other publications. Supervisors have also been given

daily, mandatory stand-up talks to deliver to workers.



The message in all media is that the mail is generally safe.



"Statistically, the possibility of coming in contact with anthrax is

remote," said West. "It's all about repetitive, persuasive

communication."



West said employees are being told the USPS is protecting its workers

and the American public through education, investigation, intervention,

and prevention. He said more then 1,000 inspectors have been deployed in

postal plants to be highly visible, answer questions, and investigate

any illegal activity involving mail.



Employees are also being told of new operating procedures, such as

irradiation, stronger anti-bacterial chemical cleaners, masks and

gloves, and a change in equipment cleaning from blowers to vacuum

cleaners. Two weeks ago, field command centers were established for

employees to call if they are admitted or seek admission to a hospital.



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