Royal Mail Delivery Office Recruits – New Starters Interim Weatherproof Protective Coat/Jacket Trial:
To: All Branches
This is an update to Branches, Regional Health and Safety Forums and Area Health and Safety Reps further to my 4 June communication to Area Health & Safety Reps and Regional Health and Safety Forums.
As you will know, getting new starters their appropriate protective cold and wet weather clothing before going out on delivery in severe inclement weather has always been an issue for ASRs. The Health, Safety & Environment Department has been challenging this continually for a number of years with the Royal Mail Safety, Health and Environment Team, Occupational Health and Assets teams as well as raising the matter with the HSE.
The current business standard for new starters is that they are entitled to a basic uniform (which does not include a weatherproof, storm-proof jacket). Once they have been employed for 6 weeks and providing they’re going to be employed for 13+ weeks they get their job title changed from new starter to walking delivery for example and a weatherproof, storm-proof jacket is provided as part of their full allocation. (Note: The Postal Outdoor Department is currently reviewing the Uniform Agreement with Royal Mail, covering all standard clothing).
The Health, Safety & Environment Department’s position is that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations 1992 requires the provision of protective clothing, free of charge, and that PPE is “All equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety”. We have further argued that Royal Mail is not compliant with the regulations in respect of new recruits during their initial period of employment.
As notified to Branches earlier this year and as displayed at CWU Annual Conference, I’m pleased to say that Royal Mail Assets has proposed a New Starter ‘interim weatherproof coat/jacket’ which the RM Assets and the Dimensions (Royal Mail Group Clothing and Footwear Supplier) team had at CWU Conference for delegates to view this year.
It has been agreed that it’s now time to trial and test the coat/jacket. The idea is that if successful, new starters would get the jacket on day one and receive their standard normal full clothing allocation after 6 weeks in the job as is standard practice now.
In my 4 June communication, I invited ASRs to nominate Delivery Offices in their areas as trial sites. Both Royal Mail and the CWU Health, Safety and Environment Department were particularly keen to include offices in parts of the country that experience high levels of rain and inclement weather. Having said that, in recent years various parts of the country have been hit with localised heavy rain storms and resultant flash floods.
Incidentally, the Met Office recently reported that the wettest place in the UK is Snowdonia in Wales (average annual totals exceeding 3,000mm of rain a year), followed by the Highlands of Scotland, the Lake District, the Pennines and the moors of South West England.
We’ve had a great response from ASRs to the proposed New Recruits Interim Weatherproof Coat/Jacket trial. I’ve spoken to many Reps since Conference around all the regions and have received well over 100 Delivery Offices nominations to participate in trials of the coat where new recruits have recently been employed or are due to start. I would like to thank all ASRs for the great response. The National Royal Mail Uniform Manager and Head of Assets have also asked me to convey their thanks to ASRs for the great response and support. However Royal Mail only have 25 trial coats to test at this stage and so selection of trial sites has been made by geographical location.
Following consideration of the Delivery Office sites nominated by CWU Area Health and Safety Reps, Royal Mail Assets has confirmed the selected sites and individuals for the 25 New Starter Interim Weatherproof Coats to be trialed.
The jackets are class 3 for waterproof and breathability and class 2 for high viz. The trial will need to test design, comfort, wearability and breathability qualities as well as waterproofness and insulation.
The jackets should arrive from the manufacturer in the next 2/3 weeks and confirmation will be sent to the relevant Delivery Office Managers just before the trial coats are delivered to the units in order to confirm those selected are still employed with Royal Mail at the same site.
The fact is that the weather has been far too hot recently to realistically expect staff to wear a weatherproof, storm proof jacket and it may seem to some a bit of a joke that this trial is being announced just now, however intermittent rainstorms have hit various parts of the country of late and we have agreed to trial the coats for 3 months which will take the trial into the winter months and a trial extension can be considered at the review point if agreed its needed all round.
It’s really important that feedback is obtained from all 25 members trialing the coats and Area Health and Safety Reps covering trial sites are asked to monitor the trial garments with those individuals concerned to ensure feedback is received from the individuals and indeed the Reps if they wish to input. All feedback and input is very welcome. The feedback will enable Royal Mail and the CWU to make an informed decision as to whether Royal Mail provides this coat from day 1 for all new starters and also the comfort, design, suitability, robustness and longevity of the garment all need to be tested.
Further information as to when the coats arrive and when they will be dispatched to the trial sites will be provided by Royal Mail Assets in due course and this will be passed to ASRs.
List of final Trial Delivery Offices:-
• Skye SPDO
• Dundee DO x 3
• Stornaway DO
• Barvas SPDO
• Forres DO
• Portsmouth MPU x 4
• Bognor DO
• Gosport DO x 2
• Newport (IOW) x 2
• Barnstable DO
• Exeter DO x 4
• Dungannon DO x 3
• West London DC
The current Stormproof/Weatherproof Coat is part of the RMG PPE Matrix. The ‘interim’ coat will be treated the same, should it be retained, and will be included in the PPE Matrix review and update which the Health, Safety and Environment Department will be undertaking with the RMG SHE team at the appropriate time taking account of the trial outcome.
LTB720/15, dated 16 November 2015, entitled ‘Royal Mail Group/CWU Joint Statement and New Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Safety Standard’ refers.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer