Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY22 013 – Serious Dog Attack in Garden:
Background and Description – What Happened
Royal Mail Group’s Safety Team have issued RMG SHE Safety Flash FY22 013 following yet another recent serious dog attack, this time the victim was a postwoman/OPG member in Goole (East Yorkshire) who earlier this month received horrific injuries to her legs, arm, wrist and a fractured bone in the right hand during the savage attack.
In this case, the victim was a fairly new member of staff who had joined Royal Mail quite recently. The employee arrived at what is a large house in large surrounding gardens. On the front gates was a sign – “Warning Beware of The Dogs”. The postwoman saw and heard no dogs present. She rattled the gate and got no response. She then entered the garden and approached the house which was a little distance from the gate. As she neared the house, a very aggressive, large German Shepherd dog came from behind the house with a second dog and immediately launched a ferocious, violent attack on the member, knocking her to the ground and inflicting several serious bite wound and laceration injuries to the victim’s legs, arms, a wrist and a hand including a bone fracture. The dog was eventually pulled off and dragged away by the owner and returned to the property.
The Safety Flash has been released to once again raise awareness and raise the profile of the need for the delivery workforce to be vigilant and follow dog risk controls and safe systems of work in order to reduce the risk of dog attacks.
Delivery members should adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approach, taking no risks and following the ‘AVOID’ acronym message. If a suspected dog risk exists at a premises, then the approach should be to ‘err on the side of caution’ as ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry.’
A Police investigation and an internal Royal Mail/CWU joint investigation are both underway. The CWU Area Health and Safety Representative is fully involved locally in the investigation and the CWU/HQ Health, Safety and Environment Department is involved nationally. We are in close contact with our Branch ASR and in regular contact also with the Royal Mail Security Investigation Team and Royal Mail Group Senior Lawyer and Legal Department, receiving regular updates.
The injured postwoman was taken to hospital via ambulance and received emergency surgery on the injuries resulting in multiple stitches plus medication to prevent serious infection. Hospital treatment continues.
As indicated in LTBs 134/22 and 150/22, a detailed staff WTLL Briefing on dog awareness was produced in consultation with the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department to be delivered to the Delivery Office workforce in preparation for the reinstatement of PDA ‘Signed-For’ deliveries, reminding and raising awareness of all delivery staff to be vigilant at all times and to always take the safe course of action regarding dogs. Take no risks and take no assurances from dog owners either!
There are 3000 dog attacks on postmen and women every year. 1000 postmen and women have had a finger or part finger bitten off in the last 5 years through letterboxes. Members need to be vigilant and aware of the risks that dogs pose and take no chances. Royal Mail and CWU agree that the safety of our delivery workforce is paramount, and dog awareness must be taken seriously.
- 3000 dog attacks on postmen and women every year!
- 1000 postmen and women have had a finger bitten off in the last 5 years – don’t put your fingers through the letter box!
- 5 people have been killed in dog attacks this year in the UK, averaging one a month, 4 of them children.
- 5 million households in the UK have acquired a pet during the 2-year pandemic according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association. That means the UK now has 17 million pet-owning homes – mostly dogs.
Raise Awareness – Be Vigilant
The aim of this LTB and the attachments is to raise awareness of the dog risk and to urge members on delivery to always stay vigilant in order to do what we can jointly to minimise the risk of dog attacks on members and to promote the staff dog awareness ‘AVOID’ acronym message. The ‘AVOID’ message, outlined in the attached briefing is crucially important at this time – the message is:- ‘AVOID and Stay Safe’ – Managers and Workplace Coaches have been requested to ensure that staff are thoroughly briefed on the importance of using ‘AVOID’ and being dog aware. All CWU Reps should support getting the message across to all members.
Key Messages, Learning Points and Activities – DOMs to take appropriate remedial action, brief and remind all delivery staff as follows:
- Ensure staff are being vigilant and aware that they should report all unsecure gates or properties where a dog resides to their manager, so that they can agree the necessary controls with customers to ensure the safety of delivery staff.
- Remind staff that they may need to be prepared to use their delivery equipment (pouch or trolley) to form a barrier to defend themselves if necessary.
- Remind staff to report all dog hazards to their manager, so that they can be assessed using the dog attack control matrix and appropriate action taken to reduce the risk.
- Postmen and women/OPGs unfamiliar with delivery walks need to be made aware and informed of any hazards such as dangerous dogs or hazardous delivery points and the temporary controls that are in place and addresses where there are delivery suspensions.
- Ensure that all USO delivery exceptions and suspensions, along with alternative delivery arrangements are identified on the delivery frame through the use of the special instruction card.
- Significant dog hazards must be recorded on the ‘Outdoor Risk Assessment/(WRAP replacement) and must be identified by a yellow dot on the frame.
- The USO Sharepoint should be used to request letters to be sent to notify customers of any concerns that need addressing.
- 1 in 3 properties in the UK now have a dog. Approximately 2.5 million dogs were purchased during the pandemic. So therefore the risk of attack has increased significantly.
- Brief the Safety Flash to all staff as part of your next staff WTLL/huddle and display it on the SHE Safety Notice Board.
- PiC to ensure that all staff have received training on avoiding dog attacks via Content on Demand.
- Ensure all delivery postman/women employees have had the Delivery SSOW communicated to them in the last 12 months.
- Ensure walk logs are reviewed, printed off [this will support the transfer of hazards into Outdoor Risk Assessment (ORA)], and yellow dots are in place on frames for all known dog hazards.
- Visit the dog attack hazard intranet pages for ideas and material to reduce dog attacks. Units can order proactive dog attack postcards by contacting their local ALTS (Area Leadership Team Support).
- Focus safety conversations on dog attacks, check that customer gates are in good condition and secure.
- Managers to carry out offsite safety observations to ensure employees are working in line with this training.
- Following Risk Assessment, suitable controls must be identified where loose dogs are known to be present on a property and the customer told to fit an external letterbox in order to maintain safe deliveries.
CWU ASR/WSR Actions
- Please ensure that this LTB, training, Safety Flash, briefing materials and images are communicated to all members.
- Carry out safety inspections.
- Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY22 013 – Serious Dog Attack in Garden
- WTLL Dog Awareness Delivery Staff Briefing as RM re-instate ‘Signature Capture’ and embeds ‘Photo Capture on Delivery’
- Goole Postwoman Dog Attack Injury Images
- Scene of the Goole Dog Attack Image
- German Shepherd Images
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer