SAFETY - WEARING OF HIGH VISIBILITY GARMENTS AND CYCLE HELMETS BY
ROYAL MAIL CYCLE DELIVERY MEMBERS.
Report by Dave Joyce, National Health, Safety and Environment Officer.
This is an initial report on the above subject, following the 2001 Conference decision to significantly change the Union's policy on the question of Cycle Helmets.
Following 5 fatalities in a 3 year period up to October 2001, the issue of Cycle Helmets was thrust into the media lime light ,and this also led to an early day motion supported by 40 MPs being raised in the House Of Commons. The Motion called for the Government to urge Royal Mail to offer free Cycle Helmets to all staff. It also stated that two thirds of dead cyclists have head injuries, and two thirds of those deaths would have been avoided by the protection of energy absorbing Cycle Helmets.
Headway Welcomes Royal Mail Cycle Helmets Policy
Headway welcomes the new policy of the Royal Mail which states that from April 2003; all 37,000 employees who use a bicycle as part of their job will be issued with a cycle helmet and will be required to wear it. Staff will also receive high visibility protective clothing to further enhance their safety.
Headway commends the policy of the Royal Mail, which was developed in partnership with the Communication Works Union (CWU), as it will improve the safety of their staff at work.
A head injury is the most common cause of death and long-term disability following a cycling accident. The risk of a serious head injury can be reduced by as much as 85% if a cycle helmet is worn properly.
Headway - the brain injury association (registered charity in England. Charity No.1025852). 4 King Edward Court, King Edward Street, Nottingham. NG1 1EW (Tel 0115 924 0800 Fax 0115 958 4446 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cycle Safety - Cycle Helmets & High-Visibility Clothing Initiative in Royal Mail
Major steps are being taken to increase the safety of the Union's 35,000 Royal Mail delivery members who use bicycles as part of their job. Several postmen have lost their lives in cycling accidents in recent years and many others have been seriously injured. The whole question of improving Cycle safety is a joint initiative between Royal Mail and the CWU, working together to do everything they can to reduce the risks of injuries to employees. The announcement was made this month by the lead negotiators Adrian Warren, Royal Mail's National Safety Manager, and Dave Joyce, National Health, Safety and Environment Officer .
Cycle helmet trials which have been taking place at a number of Delivery Offices around the country including Gloucester North, Sutton Coldfield, Brackley (Northampton) and Prestwich (Manchester) have concluded with very positive feedback from the volunteer Delivery members and their Union Safety Representatives. The members involved tested a variety of helmets in the course of their job and assessed things such as fit, comfort, style, colour, usability and storage. The trials were conducted with full local CWU support and involvement under joint National Royal Mail/CWU control. The trials provided the opportunity to work with suppliers about providing solutions to problems such as weather proofing raised by members during the tests.
Dave Joyce, National Health, Safety and Environment Officer and the Union's national co-ordinator said, "Conscious of the fact that five members had died in cycle accidents from head injuries in a three year period, the Union and Royal Mail agreed that action was needed to improve Cycle safety standards in order to reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries amongst our delivery workforce. CWU Conference subsequently debated the issue and voted in favour of compulsory Cycle Helmet introduction. We entered negotiations with Royal Mail on the basis of our Conference Policy and have concluded a national agreement fully supporting the introduction of Cycle Helmets and Hi-Visibility protective Clothing."
Dave added, "The question of enforcement has obviously been raised, but this is about a radical approach to improving safety and a big cultural change. There is no place for heavy-handedness, and enforcement will be carried out in a measured and sensitive way, using counseling and persuasion wherever possible with the aim of ensuring that all cyclists understand the benefits of helmets. Our local CWU Representatives will be fully involved and consulted. Conduct Code action must be the managers last resort and they must establish that all reasonable steps applicable have been taken including the involvement of the union representative prior to any formal action. There will be no recourse to the conduct code at all initially, and this will remain until 3 months after the Area as a whole has been equipped with cycle helmets.
Royal Mail and the CWU have agreed the best available specification cycle helmet and following the rigorous trial and selection process, a one and a quarter million pounds contract to supply 35,000 helmets is currently under negotiation. The Cycle Helmets will be provided on a phased basis. Deployment is expected to begin from November 2002 and be complete by March 2003. Cycle Helmets will be provided to all those who undertake cycle deliveries and will be issued to members as soon as they are available. They must be worn at all times, with the aim of ensuring that all cyclists understand the benefits of helmets. Wearing the helmet will become compulsory as soon as it has been received. Individuals will receive a pack which consists of a top specification, adjustable, padded cycle helmet, a spare set of pads, a hat which can be worn inside the helmet in cold weather and a waterproof cover which fits over the Helmet to be worn in wet weather. Individuals can chose when they wish to use or not use the cold and wet weather additions as appropriate.
Royal Mail National Safety Manager Adrian Warren stressed that: "A sensitive and measured approach will be taken, using counselling, persuasion and Union involvement before resorting to the conduct code. However, the safety of employees is the most important thing, and that's why the Business intends to introduce compulsory cycle helmets and high visibility jackets nationally. Royal Mail and the CWU are working together with employees to ensure our cyclists do not add to the road traffic accident and injury statistics." Adrian added "I am pleased that we have, as a result of the adjudication, agreed on a product which meets the high standards we expect. The work will now proceed on procurement and roll out".
High Visibility Garments
The other key measure being introduced is the mandatory wearing of high visibility clothing for all cyclists, as the major cause of accidents involving motorists in collisions with cyclists is when drivers simply don't see the cyclist due to poor visibility of the cyclist. The wearing of high visibility clothing became mandatory in July, when members were briefed and issued with hi-visibility waistcoats and stormproofs, where they didn't already have them, and were given time to get used to wearing them. It was found that most people were already wearing the high visibility garments as a matter of course, but, because both Royal Mail and the Union agree that the matter of Cycle safety is a serious issue, following a three months introductory period, from 1 October, wearing the high visibility clothing will become compulsory. Failure to wear hi-visibility clothing may be enforced in the same as Cycle Helmets.
Dave Joyce, National Health, Safety and Environment Officer