CWU Celebrates Landmark Low Level Letter Box Victory as Government Prepares to Change Building Regulations To Help Postal Workers:
The CWU is today celebrating a landmark victory for its postal worker members.
Branches and Regions will be aware of the re-launched, high-profile campaign which has gained huge publicity over recent months.
After years of campaigning to ban low level letter Boxes, the Union intensified its campaign earlier this year lobbying MPs, government ministers, local authorities, public advisory bodies, trade associations and developers etc.
The issue rose to prominence in January when a Private Member’s Ten Minute Rule Bill sponsored by the CWU and Royal Mail, with cross-party endorsement, was presented to a packed House of Commons by Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford and received the support of all political parties.
The campaign to prevent low level letter boxes is a top priority of the Communications Workers Union and the Health, Safety & Environment Department has been campaigning for changes to Building Regulations for some time, so that the fitting of low level letter boxes is prevented in new developments, refurbishments and door replacements.
The CWU knows that bending or stooping to deliver to clusters of low level letter boxes presents many potential problems to postmen and women with the risk of back, arm and joint injuries, repetitive strain injuries, trapped fingers, and dog bites as well as the risk of damage to packets and the risk of theft for customers. Back injury is the primary cause of sickness in Royal Mail which recorded nearly 17,000 back related absence spells last year. Dog bites through letter boxes is a common occurrence and in many cases results in finger and part finger amputations.
Having won the unanimous support of Members of Parliament, the good news that emerged today is that the ‘Building Regulations Advisory Committee’ has formally endorsed the Union’s call for change and has recommended to the Minister the inclusion in part ‘M’ of the revised, updated Building Regulations, a new minimum height for letter boxes within the upcoming formal review of UK Building Regulations later this year. This will mean that a minimum letter box height will at long last become Law and low level boxes will be outlawed on all new developments, refurbishments and replacements.
The Government has a target of one million new homes to be completed by the end on 2020 and large developments with low level letter boxes are an obvious concern and a nightmare for postal workers. The Union has had to tackle the problem by challenging builders piecemeal when they install low level letterboxes in big numbers and we’ve had to do that without the force of the law behind us. Today’s news from the House of Commons couldn’t have come at a better time.
Emma Clancy, Chairperson of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) has written to the minister supporting an amendment to the Building Regulations, acknowledging the Union’s campaign, stating that the BRAC recognises that there are potential occupational health and ergonomic issues with low level letter boxes and that they support an amendment to Regulations to include a minimum letter box height.
The housing Minister Kit Malthouse has subsequently indicated his support for the change and we now hope it can be pushed through quickly.
This is an extremely important development and positive change for the health and safety of postal workers out on deliverers six days a week, 52 weeks of the year and a huge step forward for sensible change.
This is great news for CWU delivery members. Further reports will be made when the regulatory changes are progressed over the coming months.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer