National Roll Out of Coronavirus/Covid-19 – LFD Workforce Testing in Royal Mail Group:
Branches and Regions will be aware from reports published in LTBs 581/20, 54/21 and 102/21 that Royal Mail Group has been running a number of RMG/CWU Jointly supported Covid-19 Workforce LFD (Lateral Flow Device) Testing Pilots/Trials in Sheffield City DO, Birmingham Mail Centre and finally across 150 plus Royal Mail and Parcelforce Offices (including RMSS, RM Fleet, RM Engineering and RMP&FS) in CM, SS, CO, NR, IP, NN and AL postcode areas).
Since last year the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been pressing for the introduction of ‘Workforce Testing’ for Covid-19/Coronavirus as a positive, proactive way of improving ‘Covid-Secure’ workplace standards and ‘Covid-Safety’ by combatting the spread and transmission of the virus in the workplace by quickly identifying those infected but asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and getting them into self-isolation promptly, so as to firstly protect the individual and secondly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to others, bearing in mind that many people, estimated as one in three, may be infected but are either ‘pre-symptomatic’ or ‘asymptomatic’ and will not know they have the virus and are transmitting it to others.
A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to isolate themselves, reducing the chances that they will infect others and allows them to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing disease severity and the risk of long-term disability, or death.
Since it is recognised that a third of all Covid-19 infections are transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms, identifying infected individuals via testing while they are pre-symptomatic, as well as those who are asymptomatic, via workforce testing in Royal Mail Group, one of the UK’s largest employers, could therefore play a major role in helping stop the virus spread.
A ‘tripartite’ agreement was reached involving the CWU, Unite CMA, Royal Mail Group and the Department of Health and Social Care for Royal Mail to be involved in a wider Government initiative, running a number of pilots to test the concept of regular weekly Covid-19 testing in the workplace. The pilots formed part of the Government plan and subsequent decision, announced by the Prime Minister recently, to roll out mass testing technology across the UK.
Royal Mail and CWU nationally and locally in the Pilot/Trial areas, have jointly been working together to bring about the successful outcome from where Lateral Flow Device home self-testing of the workforce could be rolled out nationally. The role and full involvement of local managers, CWU Area and local Health and Safety Representatives, IR Representatives and the workforce has been, and will continue to be vital to the successful further deployment and roll out of testing which it is planned to run from next week until the end of June when the Government is scheduled to end lockdown restrictions, subject to the staged evaluation of current vaccinations progress, declining hospital admissions and falling infection and death rates. The situation in the UK is currently improving greatly but we must bear in mind the situation with virus variants plus the international picture across Europe and in India and other countries which could threaten progress.
Following initial discussions between the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department, Royal Mail Group and Government Agencies the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), agreement was reached and contracts signed with the DHSC (Department of Health & Social Care) and the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) in relation to securing participation in the Government’s Workforce Covid-19 Testing Programme Pilots.
Agreement has now been reached between Royal Mail Group, CWU and DHSC (Department of Health & Social Care) that National Workforce LFD Home Testing can be rolled out nationally across Royal Mail Group from Monday 10 May and a stock of 300,000 LFD Test Kits is now in Royal Mail Swindon Walk Bundling Centre ready for national distribution to workplaces.
Alongside the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, regular testing is at the heart of plans for easing lockdown restrictions. Hence the Government and the devolved nations announced that everyone will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus (Covid-19) test twice a week.
From 10th May, every member will be able to take part in home, twice weekly, self-testing by collecting test kit packs from their workplace until the 30th June as per the current Government guidelines. This is a simple, most convenient option now available to members, in addition to the Government’s other options of ordering test kits on-line, collecting test kits from a local testing site, community sites, participating pharmacies or at schools and colleges which some members may wish to opt for. The workplace option makes it easier and more accessible for members to collect test kits and participate in regular testing, helping to keep themselves, families, friends and co-workers safe.
Nothing is 100%. A negative result means it is likely that the individual is not infectious at the time the test was taken, however it is not a 100% guarantee that the person does not have the Covid-19 virus. People are still susceptible to catching and spreading the virus and so respecting social distancing and other rules (i.e., regular hand washing and sanitising, cleaning touch points plus wearing a face mask/covering, cleaning and ventilation/fresh air) are the most powerful ways of stopping the spread of the virus.
- On 10 May – National Roll-Out of Covid-19 LFD (Lateral Flow Device) Workforce Testing across Royal Mail Group (RM, PFWW, RMSS, RMP&FS, RM Fleet, RM Eng, RMCE etc.,) will be launched.
- In preparation for national roll out the RM Project Team have set up and put in place a new ‘Share Point Site’ and LFD Test Kit ordering and recording process. Managers are being briefed on the Share Point Site plus the Test Kit ordering and recording process.
- The participating CWU members will be provided with their test kit packs at work to take home and self-test at their convenience, in the privacy of their own homes and the ‘rapid’ Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits give a result in 30 minutes. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and University of Oxford show Lateral Flow Tests are sensitive and accurate enough to be used for identifying ‘asymptomatic’ and ‘pre-symptomatic’ people – those infected with the virus but showing no symptoms and who can spread the virus. To reiterate the important point, the Government’s chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor estimate 1 in 3 people who are infected with Covid-19 do not have symptoms.
- There is an instruction video that’s available in workplaces and via ‘myroyalmail’ for members to watch on how the test is done and instructions showing the simple test process which is very easy to perform.
- All staff will see a joint letter signed by myself (Dave Joyce CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer) on behalf of CWU and signed by Shaun Davis Royal Mail Global Director Safety, Health, Environment, Compliance & Sustainability (see copy attached).
- There is also a Poster to be displayed (see copy attached). A joint RMTV Interview has been recorded featuring myself (Dave Joyce CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer), Gary Sassoon- Hales, Unite/CMA National Committee and RMG Global Safety, Health, Environment, Compliance and Sustainability Director Shaun Davis. This will be launched Friday 7 May.
- Attached are the two WTLL/Staff Briefs that will be delivered in all workplace units and offices, and this week a Royal Mail ‘In Ops’ article (TWIO) has gone out on 5 May to all managers with the same article appearing in the Parcelforce weekly newsletter. The WTLL/Staff Briefings will be delivered to front line employees next week, and the second will be briefed once the Unit Manager has completed their training which should be completed this week.
The workforce home testing scheme is in addition to the Covid-Secure controls of following the basic ‘Hands – Face – Space’ rules, e.g., washing and sanitising hands regularly, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing and ensuring high levels of cleaning in the workplace, vehicles and equipment, good ventilation and fresh air wherever and whenever possible.
The CWU is very strongly supporting Covid-19 Workforce Testing and we need the help and support of every CWU Rep at all levels to encourage our members to participate and take up the testing option which is a positive benefit to all our members. Participation is voluntary.
The CWU also encourages all our members to get vaccinated when the opportunity and offer arises. Again however, participation is voluntary and we must recognise that some individuals do have valid genuine medical reasons why they cannot take the vaccine.
Royal Mail and CWU are pleased to be working with the Government to deliver a workforce home testing programme. Participation in this is voluntary and is fully supported by Royal Mail, Parcelforce, CWU/HQ and Unite/CMA HQ. We want every member to take part in regular Lateral Flow Testing to help prevent the spread of Covid-19
- Copy of the Royal Mail/CWU/Unite CMA Joint Letter to All Employees – ‘Coronavirus/ Covid-19 – Rapid Workforce Testing – We Need Your Support!’
- Copy of the Royal Mail/CWU/Unite CMA Joint Coronavirus/Covid-19 – Workforce Lateral Flow Testing Poster
- Copy of two RMG/CWU/Unite CMA Covid-19 WTLL/Briefings on the Lateral Flow Device Home Self Testing Scheme
- Copy of the Royal Mail ‘In Ops’/Parcelforce Newsletter Management Article (TWIO) on the Employees LFD Home Testing Scheme
All enquiries should be directed to either Dave Joyce CWU/HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department.
Can I thank you all in anticipation for your important support.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer