While in summer we may find ourselves envying the role of the letter carriers who get to work outside. In the extreme cold, however, working indoors may lead us to take their work for granted, and we may not be aware of the dedication and survival skills required to work outdoors. When it's this cold, however, even our weather-hardy letter carriers have to use extreme caution.
Janis Colliness, Local Area Superintendent for Canada Post in Weyburn, Estevan and area, says there are times when delivery is suspended due to the cold.
“We absolutely can and will suspend delivery for part or full days if it's deemed unsafe conditions for our carriers," she said. "We go through the temperature, the windchill, the amount of snow, all those types of things, and we make a decision between the committee and ourselves. “We actually did suspend delivery one day last week. We held off on delivery, we kept them in for the first four hours of the day.”
She said to avoid frostbite, letter carriers can warm up in businesses and apartment buildings along their route.
“We encourage that routes that have business points of call or apartment buildings, that they use those to warm up and to take stock or to notice the possible symptoms that are happening in their body,” said Colliness. “As you warm up a little bit, if you're starting to experience frostbite, you'll feel it.”
She added the letter carriers know what symptoms to watch for as they are trained for extreme hot or cold temperatures.
“As the Supervisor and Superintendent of the depot, we continue to monitor the temperature, and all of our delivery agents and our letter carriers are trained for extreme cold and extreme heat temperatures,” she said. “So we do safety talks on frostbite and hypothermia and the symptoms to watch for and how to take action.”
She said the decision to suspend delivery is made between their depot’s health and safety committee and supervisors, but that's not all they do for the carriers.
"We do go out and we check on them throughout the day, we call their cell phones to make sure they're okay," said Colliness. "We monitor what time they're back in in the day, and on extreme days we stay until the last carrier's in, be it hot or cold. If our carriers feel that they can't perform their duties safely, then they are absolutely welcome to return to the depot. we very much encourage them to make safe choices out there, because we can't be with them on the street all the time."