Royal Mail Group – Re-Introduction of Driver In-Cab Training in All Vehicles and Update on The Road Map Out Of Lockdown: (Includes New Driver Induction Training & Post Accident Driver Training etc., – Managing Occupational Road Risk)
In February, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s four-step roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Each step is to be assessed before restrictions ease, with a review and decision at each stage, which will be based on the Covid-19 infection case data not dates. The Government states that it will move cautiously, aiming to keep infection rates under control. Infection rates and deaths in the UK are reducing and the numbers vaccinated are increasing rapidly with around 70% of the population now vaccinated.
As the country is now on the Government’s staged roadmap out of lockdown, Royal Mail indicated its need and intention to re-start the full programme of Driver Training because of it being essential and ‘legally required’. When lockdown commenced last year, Royal Mail Group suspended a range of tasks including vehicle in-cab training. As the country moves through the stages of the UK Government and devolved administrations’ roadmaps, a range of restrictions are being lifted. One of these restrictions is driving lessons and examinations which are now permitted across all nations. Collectively, Royal Mail and Parcelforce with the CWU and Unite/CMA believe that it is now safe to reintroduce in-cab driver training with Covid-Secure controls retained at this stage.
Royal Mail Group operates the largest commercial fleet in the UK and Europe. CWU fully acknowledges the importance of the business needing to meet its obligations in law requiring it to discharge its HSAW Act general duties and its specific MHSAW Regulations obligations in respect of occupational road risk and driver safety plus the need to provide information, instruction and training to drivers under S2 of the HSAW Act. The HSE sets out clear requirements in their legal guidance ‘Managing work-related road safety’ (INDG382) regarding their expectations in respect of effective management of work-related road safety in order to ensure driver competency and fewer injuries to drivers through a system of road risk controls to ensure drivers have the right skills, knowledge and experience.
Following discussions between RMHQ and CWUHQ regarding the changing and easing of Government lockdown restrictions and resultant Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, DfT, DVLA and HSE rules changes, the basis for a return to driver training was progressed, after a joint review of the ‘Covid-Secure’ – ‘Covid-Safe’ risk assessment and safe system of work control measures.
The CWU/HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department is in support of the resumption of driver training, including ‘in-cab’ training, based on Government announced new Covid-19 rules which are part of the well-publicised ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. A revised set of key risk assessed safety rules are summarised below and contained in the attached, updated Task Based Risk Assessment, Safe Working Instruction and RMG Communication issued by Global Director of Safety, Compliance and Sustainability Dr. Shaun Davis, the content of which was subject to consultation and agreement.
Driver in-cab training ceased when the country entered lockdown and as a result a considerable backlog has built up in the business. This involves circa 6,500 driver induction training sessions and circa 3,500 post-accident driver training sessions. Additionally, the business is in the process of recruiting circa 500 new drivers. The business, as a major fleet operator, has legal obligations under health and safety law to provide fit for purpose, ‘legally required’, driver training, information and instruction in order to be compliant and as such both Royal Mail and Parcelforce, as well as the Union are keen to see a resumption of this important and necessary safety training to ensure our driver members are well trained and competent, so as to ensure their safety on the UK roads as well as when they drive in and around Royal Mail and Parcelforce sites and property plus on customers’ premises.
Therefore, Royal Mail Group now wish to expedite the driver training programme in order to clear the backlog of this training, caused as a result of the impact of the Pandemic and suspension of training, and in doing so ensure that CWU members will benefit from this important road safety, driver tuition.
Following discussions with Royal Mail, the following ‘Covid-Secure, Covid-Safe’ key in-cab training safety controls were agreed:
Driver In-Cab Training Covid-Secure Safety Controls:
In-cab driver training will now recommence in all vehicle types imminently. To ensure the safety of both our drivers and instructors, RMG and CWU have agreed to follow instructions set out in a reviewed Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions. These include (key points):
- Drivers and instructors to take a Lateral Flow Device test within the two days prior to training.
- Both driver and instructor to wear a ‘new on the day’ Royal Mail branded, 3-ply face covering.
- The vehicle must always be ventilated.
- Touchpoints must be cleaned both before and after the session.
The dedicated Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions have been updated to reflect the change in the control measures. (Copies are attached).
Following conclusion of the health and safety consultation process, agreeing to put the above list of controls in place, it was concluded that those undertaking this training are at no greater risk than any other employees currently working for Royal Mail, undertaking other work and functions.
ASRs should take careful note of the above and should ensure that all ‘Covid-Secure’ health and safety controls are fully applied and complied with in relation to training taking place within or to/from their constituent area sites. ASRs should keep themselves informed and updated on training scheduled in their area.
‘Pertemps Driver Training’
‘Pertemps Driver Training’ who are the Royal Mail contracted driver training company have agreed that their trainers will undertake twice a week LFD testing to confirm they are Covid-19 negative prior to training Royal Mail employees.
DCPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) Classroom Training Re-Introduction
Following discussions between RMHQ and CWUHQ regarding DCPC classroom training, on the basis of the previously agreed ‘Covid-Secure’ – ‘Covid-Safe’ risk assessment and safe system of work control measures, DCPC classroom training has been re-started, following the Government announced new Covid-19 rules as part of the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. The re-start has been on condition of a list of controls contained in the Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions. Full details are published in CWU Letter To Branches LTB177/2021.
Other Work Tasks and Covid-Secure Restrictions
Against the Government Road-Map backdrop, Royal Mail Group has been working together with the CWU and Unite/CMA to review the protective measures that we have in place and to understand what risk controls can now be changed safely, as the country moves towards the end of ‘lockdown’. Royal Mail Group, in full consultation with the CWU and Unite/CMA, is considering how and when the lifting of some restrictions introduced in Royal Mail Group due to the social distancing requirements, can be changed. This will be considered in line with the Government Roadmap stages. The range of tasks which have impacted on operations include: shared vans, sorting at IPS frames, bullring sorting operations, working at incline conveyors, loading aircraft and ULDs (Pods), working at drop bag fittings and loose loading of trailers. In line with the UK Government’s Roadmap for the reduction of restrictions, Royal Mail Group will continue to work with the Unions, and in full consultation with them, towards the re-introduction of shared vans from 21 June. This date is of course subject to any changes in the UK Government Roadmap, any restrictions in devolved administrations and in infection rates.
The CWU has continually throughout the pandemic raised concerns around cleaning standards and resources. Royal Mail Group is currently working with RMPFS cleaning management to ensure cleanliness standards are improved and maintained. This will include the reopening of those facilities that were temporarily closed to achieve social distancing during the pandemic lockdown.
The Government’s current guidance on ‘staying safe’ is for workers to maintain “Covid-Secure” standards; keep washing hands, keep wearing a face covering, keep your distance, increase ventilation and fresh air and ‘get tested’.
Workforce Lateral Flow Testing
Royal Mail, CWU and the Government, through the DHSC and NHS are proud to have secured agreement to roll-out ‘Workforce Testing’ nationally, across the UK from 10 May – further supporting our membership in Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail, Parcelforce, RMSS, Fleet, RMP&FS, RM Engineering, MDECs, Admin etc.,) for the workforce in quickly identifying those infected but without symptoms (pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic) in order to protect them, their families and work colleagues and making our collective contribution to cutting infections. The Royal Mail Group National Workforce Testing Programme commences on 10 May. All members/employees will be encouraged to participate in Lateral Flow Testing, twice weekly and those opting to take part will be provided with the test kits at their workplace for their convenience and support, enabling them to test in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Alternatively, kits can be obtained through an on-line home ordering and delivery service, by ‘Pharmacy-Collect’, collection from test centre sites, by community testing offered by all local authorities and through testing on-site at schools and colleges. Full details are published in CWU Letter To Branches LTB183/2021.
Further updates and communications will follow.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer