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Health & Safety




It seems along time since last years report, Copperas Hill has closed we have two new sites at Sandhills and Brunswick Dock and we had to fight tooth and nail to obtain the facilities that are now in place on both sites, that should never have been the case these facilities/working conditions should have been in place as a matter of course, consequently the lessons we learnt from that experience should be noted by other Branches throughout the country when the next round of Mail Centre closures are negotiated.


Naturally the above leads me to the new site at Warrington which has been a mitigating disaster in fact I feel we have gone back ten years in respect of Health and Safety due to persistent failures by Senior Management to respond to requirements of Safety Law, thus I'm sorry to say we are still fighting to achieve the basic safety standards that we fought for and obtained in Copperas Hill over many years.


We hear from the Employer consistently that ‘Health and Safety is the number one priority', well in many instances that is not the case and in Warrington we have witnessed every SSOW being vandalised, lack of Management Controls and more disconcerting is the lack of concern for the health, safety and welfare of our Members.


Can you believe we had to argue over the introduction of WALKWAYS for the safe movement of Employees.


One concern I have is that we tried to engage the HSE in Warrington to assist in improving the Safety environment and their lack of response was quite enlightening!

However the failings of Management have never stopped us before and we have just elected new Health and Safety Reps for this site so a new year and a new fight that we will ultimately win.


Putting three offices into one hasn't worked and I believe this building is not large enough to accommodate the volumes of mail, safe working practices and equipment that is required for a modern Royal Mail site.


If you read this and think the CWU are not willing to assist and work with Royal Mail on grounds of safety then you could not be further from the truth so I will leave you to make your own minds up on the chain of events over the last six months.


In Delivery we are still awaiting revisions with new vans, trolleys etc and hopefully this will eradicate Private Cars on Delivery however there has been very little activity at present and consequently no details have emerged surrounding the success/failure of the Safety criteria that is sacrosanct to the National Agreement.


Regular meetings have been taking place with Safety Reps from the Wirral/Chester on a quarterly basis which coincided with WRAP training that was undertaken on my behalf by Johnny Heffernan and I thank him for his assistance and expert guidance.


In line with the above we will be extending the above to Liverpool Health and Safety Reps next year 2011.


We hope to have a program in place by April for Health and Safety 1 and 2 courses for all Safety Reps who are awaiting training these will be done in Seymour Terrace in the Spring.


In conclusion may I thank all the Safety Reps for their diligence and hard work over the year and with the Tories ‘hell bent ‘on Safety reform following Lord Young's report we will need these Safety Reps more than ever over the coming years.


Bob Freeman





Resources for Health & Safety Representatives


cwu H&S/Safety Inspector Site Visit.pdf

cwu H&S/What Makes H&S a Good Organising Tool.pdf

cwu H&S/Safety Report Form.pdf

cwu H&S/Safety Inspection Form.pdf

cwu H&S/Recording & Reporting Injuries & illnesses.pdf

cwu H&S/Organising for H & S.pdf

cwu H&S/Health & Safety Inspections.pdf

cwu H&S/H&S Working Feet & Footwear.pdf

cwu H&S/H & S Brown Book.pdf

cwu H&S/Being a H&S Rep.pdf

Introduction of a New Pouch Weight Standard Simplified
16k/11k Matrix & TerrainAdjustments:


This LTB is to confirm the national introduction of a new simplified pouch weight matrix, in line with CWU Conference Policy. The national introduction and roll out commenced as of Friday 21 May 2010.

Conference Policy

In line with Conference Policy the CWU's Health, Safety and Environment Department has continued to pursue an agreement with Royal Mail Letters that the matrix of weights for additional pouches should be simplified and reduced. The current 'Pouch Weight Matrix' set up as part of the Single Daily Delivery (SDD) agreement laid down a declining weight scale dependant on the number of additional pouches. The existing current sliding scale 'Pouch Weight Matrix' is 16k, 16k, 12k, 10k, 10k, 8k etc.


In past years HSE and Local Authority (EHO) Inspections have consistently found that maximum pouch weights were not being controlled effectively in Delivery Offices, supporting the view of the CWU and CWU Safety Representatives. The HSE Inspection Programme of Royal Mail Delivery Work, 2nd Report For 2005-2006 reported findings of :

"Manual Handling/Musculoskeletal accidents, injuries and ill health concerns centred upon excessive pouch weights and the failure to monitor their weight effectively" plus "Inspectors found that no checks on pouch weights were being undertaken in

some offices and in others where pouches were weighed and found to be excessive no action was taken. This was regularly putting Postmen and Women at risk of injury and ill health from the cumulative effects of lifting, carrying and handling excessive weights." 

Following the publication of the HSE report, meetings took place with Royal Mail and the HSE and in August 2006, t he Health, Safety and Environment Department  called for action be taken in relation to the need to tackle manual handling/musculoskeletal injuries connected to overweight pouches and bags through the better management of Pouch Weights and bags. We first proposed a move away from the existing current sliding scale Pouch Weight Matrix over to a simpler system of a straight 16k max first pouch followed by a standard 11k max for every other pouch plus terrain adjustments. This we argued was in order to assist with tackling manual handling/musculoskeletal injuries and slips, trips and falls accidents connected to overweight pouches and bags.  We argued that in theory the current sliding scale pouch weight matrix looks good on paper but in practice many Delivery Offices were not complying. Hence a number of HSE and LA Enforcement Notices had been served on Royal Mail Delivery Offices regarding a lack of pouch weight controls, unacceptable manual handling risks and accidents incurred by Postmen and Women on Delivery.  Although Royal Mail argued that ergonomically there is no issue with the existing matrix providing managers and frontline staff ensured they work within it, in reality it wasn't working or being managed effectively and it was agreed between CWU, Royal Mail and HSE that the new 16K - 11k standard is potentially easier to manage. T he theory being a simplified more easily manageable matrix would enable reduced weight and reduced risks through better weight control. It's important to emphasise the fact that everyone has an important role to play in the control of Pouch Weights, both management and delivery staff in not overloading pouches under any circumstances. 


A CWU/RML Joint Working Party with sub-groups was established to look at the subject and they subsequently reported back to the Royal Mail Letters National Joint Steering Group supporting the proposal to modify the Pouch Weight Matrix. The recommendation was endorsed and subsequently accepted by the Royal Mail Letters Operational Executive.

A position was reached where it is agreed by CWU, RML and HSE that a sensible and pragmatic way to improve the control of excess weight on delivery and to contribute towards overcoming the problem of excess weight being carried over the shoulder, causing unacceptable levels of Manual Handling MSD injury and ill health risks would be to alter the pouch weight matrix and to ensure compliance. The new standard would be based on a new arrangement that the maximum weight of the first pouch will remain at 16 Kg but the maximum pouch weight of the second and all subsequent pouches will be 11 Kg. This would form part of the strategy of removing the weight from the delivery person where ever possible via the introduction of a range of delivery aids and equipment to take the load within the 'New Delivery Methods' programme. 


Agreed trials were conducted in East and North London, South and West Wales and South Yorkshire which were designed primarily to test the proposed compliance process of pouch weigh sampling checks and follow-up approach.

Compliance Process  

In relation to 'compliance' - all parties HSE, CWU and Royal Mail wanted to be sure that we had a structure and matrix which could deliver compliance (this being a view and approach strongly expressed by the HSE) and a key part of the Trials was aimed at developing a system to ensure that the new Pouch Weights are fully complied with once introduced and would meet HSE and LA Inspectors requirements.

The HSE was concerned that sustainable compliance was achieved and the main change is that staff don't have to record 100% of their pouch weights daily on the old record sheets (where they were previously used), except for new starters. This was part of the trial programme and was based on the views of HSE. It was found that 100% self recording of delivery pouch weights wasn't a sustainable solution, and wasn't ensuring consistent compliance to pouch weight limits as staff in many Delivery Offices inspected were still taking out overweight pouches. HSE Inspectors found that no checks on pouch weights were being undertaken in some Delivery Offices and in others where pouches were weighed and found to be excessive no action was taken. Where record sheets were kept, Pouch Weights didn't always tally with record sheets or record sheets were incomplete or not used in some locations.

As such a pouch weight sampling strategy and checking system was developed which went away from individuals weighing and recording their own pouch weights on record sheets and instead introduced a random sampling process whereby typically, sampling will be carried out by management on a daily basis with in the range of 5 -15% of all the walks at each Delivery Office. Under the process, as a minimum, the DOM will ensure that a sample of 5 -15% of all Delivery Rounds or a minimum 2 - 4 full delivery walks per day will have all pouches weighed, checked and recorded on the new pro-forma provided by the Delivery Office Manager or the delivery person's immediate supervisor. All pouch weights on the randomly selected delivery rounds will be recorded on a new pro-forma (copy attached). This process will take place in each Delivery Office and non-compliance with the weight limits can lead to a 1 to 1 meeting between the DOM and individual in order to find solutions or alternatively a general talk to the Delivery Office staff at a 'Work Time Listening and Learning Session' (WTLL) which can take place to discuss compliance. This will in turn be subject to audit check by the Regional Safety Director's team and will also be subject to scrutiny by LA and HSE Inspectors, should an Inspection be carried out.

'Daily Pouch Weigh Checks' pro-forma

The 'Daily Pouch Weigh Checks' pro-forma was developed and used in trial Offices, with CWU ASR input. The process described above uses the attached Weighing Sheets to record the Pouch Weights and HCT Weights of the randomly selected sample delivery rounds and the records which will be kept for a year will be subject to audit. Different templates were tried in the Trials before a preferred version was determined. The daily weight check sheet pro-forma also provides for a clear record follow-up action to any non-compliance.

  Walk Risk Assessment. Where extreme terrain conditions

Each Delivery Round must be subjected to a Walk Risk Assessment. Where extreme terrain conditions are encountered on a particular walk, e.g. steep slopes or many stairs, pouch weights can be reduced to manage the musculoskeletal injury risks further. Ergonomic studies have provided guidance of 8 kg for greater than 1:12 slopes and 5 kg for greater than 1:8 slopes or predominantly going up stairs. There are several factors in setting appropriate values, such as the number of slopes or stairs encountered and the time period over which the pouch is emptied in delivering the mail. This should be determined through local walk risk assessment, working to the guidance provided in the new Royal Mail Letters Safety Standard SMS2.A2 and the associated WTL&L 'WRAP' Guidance, in consultation with the workforce and CWU Safety Representative. Note: Due to Risk Assessment the 16Kg Pouch doesn't have to be the first pouch on the walk and the 16kg/11kg weights can be reduced to for example 8kg/5kg on lots of stairs, steep incolines or due to individual capability following risk assessment.

The new Pouch Weight Standard summary  

•  The new Standard applies to all Royal Mail Letters delivery operations. The principle adopted by Letters is, where feasible, to remove the need to carry weight on the shoulder by deploying other delivery techniques.

•  Based on ergonomic assessment, a clear limit of 16kg maximum has been established for pouch handling. Beyond this restriction, there are two other aspects that must be considered in making up pouches: fatigue from carrying a series of pouches, and terrain (particularly stairs and hills) encountered during the walk.

•  The first pouch on any walk will be up to the maximum 16kg, and, to accommodate the risks of fatigue, a guideline limit of 11kg will be set for subsequent pouches. 

•  Where terrain necessitates further adjustment to pouch weights on a given walk, a local walk risk assessment will be carried out involving the Delivery Office Manager and the relevant delivery person. 

•  Adjustments will be recorded in the walk log, with the delivery person making the actual adjustment to the appropriate pouch dependent on the volumes to be delivered on a given day.

•  For the purposes of accommodating terrain issues, it may be appropriate that rather than use a 16kg pouch on the first leg of the walk, an 11kg pouch is used and a 16kg pouch used second or third pouch in the walk over more suitable terrain. However, only one 16kg pouch will be used on any given walk. (guidance is provided).

•  As part of the walk assessment process, mechanisms (such as the use of High-Capacity Trolleys and pouch drops) will be identified and deployed accordingly. •  Where the walk is being covered by a different individual, that individual is required, as part of familiarisation with the walk hazards, to review the pouch weight arrangements for the walk, and raise any potential issues with their immediate supervisor.

•  Vulnerable individuals (young person, pregnant woman etc.), will have their pouch weight arrangements reviewed and related manual handling assessments, to ensure that appropriate temporary arrangements are introduced. The maximum pouch weight for a young person will be limited to 10kg.

•  The Delivery Office Manager will ensure that weighing facilities are maintained at the Delivery Unit, so that delivery staff can check the weight of their pouches where they have any concerns. 

•  The Delivery Office Manager will ensure that sampling of pouch weights is undertaken on an ongoing basis of 5 -15% of all Delivery Rounds or a minimum 2 - 4 full delivery walks per day will have all pouches weighed, checked and recorded on the new pro-forma. Where pouch weights are being exceeded, frequency of sampling will be increased and take action to ensurethat the pouch weights are brought back into compliance with follow-up action which could include amendment of the delivery support arrangements, team briefings, 1-2-1 coaching, and/or other appropriate measures to promote and ensure compliance. 

•  Follow-up action resulting from non-compliance, will be recorded on the pro-forma provided.

•  Appropriate, necessary training for compliance with the Pouch Weight Standard will be provided.

•  The Head of Safety Management will maintain audit programmes to monitor compliance with the Pouch Weight Standard. 

•  Terrain Adjustment Guidance is provided in WRAP and t he weights carried on stairs and on hills should be minimised.

It has been agreed to implement and roll out the new 16kg/11kg pouch weight arrangements across the UK with a the RML/CWU/UniteCMA joint statement on "WRAP". (see attached).

Local discussions should take place between management and the CWU ASR involvement prior to the new arrangements being implemented ensuring that the key objective of the arrangements for weighing of pouches and checking that maximum weights are adhered to on all occasions are maintained. 

New Pouch Weight Standard

The 'New Pouch Weight Health and Safety Standard' and 'Daily Pouch and HCT Weight Checks' pro-forma are contained within the WRAP system and WRAP Manual.

Pouch Weigh Cards/Labels:

A suggestion was raised with Royal Mail as part of the above whereby  small cards or labels are attached to each delivery pouch, identifying what number pouch it is and what weight it should be in line with the matrix. The aim is for this to assist weight control and to assist replenishment operations in order to ensure second and subsequent pouches are taken out to pouch boxes and drop points in the right order. Royal Mail are currently developing this idea and again we hope to see it's national introduction in the near future.

Yours Sincerely

Dave Joyce

National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

Health, Safety and Welfare

There are many considerations regarding doing the job safely, it is the primary duty of the CWU to ensure all our member's have a safe environment in which to work, the right equipment to do the job and more importantly know and comply with all the rules regarding health and safety, not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of those around them.

"Walk Safe!" - Anti-Violence and Assaults Policy:

A CWU campaign for better protection of Postal Delivery staff has resulted in the agreed introduction of a new "Walk Safe" Policy and procedures to deal with the growing problem of violence and assaults on Mail delivery staff.

Assaults, threats and abuse of Postmen and Women is totally unacceptable and the message must go out to our members, managers and the public that it is not part of a Postal worker's job to be physically or verbally abused at work and violence against Postal staff will not be tolerated. We want to see an increased level of awareness among staff and promote the reporting of all incidents - the message is "Report it – Don't ignore it”. This helps local management and Royal Mail Security Officers to evaluate and monitor the true scale and nature of violence and abuse incidents and so help to develop an effective policy to deal with the problem.

The bottom line is to communicate to all members that - If you feel threatened or feel at risk, do not go into an area or situation - leave if you feel you have to and report it. In known "high risk - high crime" areas, the risk of verbal and physical assault must be taken very seriously and risk assessed by managers in consultation with Area Safety Reps. Risk assessments should be kept under review and monitored.

We have agreed nationally that it is important now for local managers to work with CWU Area Health & Safety Representatives to deploy the policy and threat risk assessments. Local measures should be promoted and developed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our delivery staff.

The new agreed Policy makes the following clear: - postmen and women have the right to carry out their duties without the threat of either physical or verbal violence. Further steps are now being taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our people as there are still far too many assaults and that is the reason why Royal Mail has beefed up its policy on dealing with such incidents. From now on a dedicated Royal Mail Security Officers team will monitor individual areas and the type of mail that is carried to assess risk factors, while unit managers will have to ensure walk risk assessments are carried out - and potential threats identified in consultation with the Trade Union Safety Reps.

The advice below is for guidance and information only and is intended to give a basic level of understanding of the risk assessment process. It must be emphasised that any specific health and safety advice is available from the CWU Workplace and Area safety representative. This source of advice, guidance and information on health, safety and welfare issues should be fully utilised to ensure the best protection of our members.

Risk Assessment is the principal that underpins all UK health and safety legislation and practice. To best understand risk assessment is first necessary to be clear on the difference between Hazard and a Risk.

Key terms

  • Hazard

  • Risk

  • Significant Risk

A Hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm, such as the presence of a dog, uneven path, low letter box – What can it do to you or a colleague?

The Risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be - What are the chances of it happening to you or someone else?

A Significant Risk means high probability of an incident occurring and a high score for the consequences in terms of harm done such as injury or damage to equipment.

All the tasks that your member's undertake must be assessed to ensure that any significant risk that they are exposed to is either eliminated or controlled to the lowest ‘reasonably practicable' level.

To achieve this task Royal Mail has a compendium of pro-forma that collectively makes up the Risk Assessment Manual. It is the duty of every Person in Charge (PIC) to make sure that these assessments have taken place and the measures identified as being necessary to control the significant risk have been implemented.

Safe Systems of Work

These are the practical ways of implementing the risk control measures and effectively become the safe operating procedures for the various tasks that our members perform during their employment. In a similar way to the risk assessments being contained in a manual so the Safe Systems of Work (SSOW) are written down and should be communicated to any person undertaking the work covered by a particular SSOW.

The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires at Section 2;

General duties of employers to their employees

(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of an employer's duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular-

(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

(b) arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;

Health and Safety for Disabled Workers and their Employers

In 2007 the HSE, the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) and HSE Northern Ireland have jointly developed a new Health and Safety Web Site for Disabled Workers and their Employers and produced an "Easy Read Guide" entitled "Health and Safety for disabled workers and people who work with them".

The Web Site promotes good practice in disability equality at work and health and safety risk assessment.

It provides:

  • An introduction to disability discrimination and health and safety law;

  • Advice for people doing health and safety risk assessments;

  • Advice for disabled people;

  • Links to further sources of information, including grants.

It states that Employers should:

  • Make sure they manage work risks for everyone;

  • Take account of disability, avoiding assumptions;

  • Involve disabled workers and their Safety Representatives in doing risk assessments and making ‘reasonable adjustments';

  • Consult others with appropriate expertise where necessary;

  • Review the situation if necessary, working with the disabled person and/or their safety representative.

The Web Site can be accessed on the following link:

The principles of health and safety management and disability were set out in a "Joint Statement" with acknowledge the support of the disabled people who assisted with the project reproduced below:-

Joint DRC HSC statement on overarching principles of health and safety management and disability

We believe that health and safety law and its implementation is in the interests of all employees, whether disabled or non-disabled, and of the employer. Disabled people should expect effective and enabling risk management in the workplace.

Health and Safety law and the Disability Discrimination Act when used appropriately will work together to increase the employability and retention of disabled people. A positive and sensible approach to risk management can and should in most circumstances encourage the inclusion of disabled people in the workplace.

Risk assessment should not focus unduly on an individual's disability. It should look more broadly at the overall demands of the work and how best to manage associated risk.

We want:

  • Employers to develop a working environment in which employees feel safe and supported to disclose and discuss its impact (including potential barriers to engagement, development and advancement within the workplace) on the management of their disability or long term health condition;

  • Employees to work collaboratively with employers to help manage risk and to discuss positively with their employer approaches to making reasonable adjustments;

  • The findings of risk assessments to provide clear recommendations wherever appropriate on how reasonable adjustments and timescales for implementing them are to be built into successful risk management.

Health and safety should never be used as a false excuse to justify discriminatory treatment. It will be the exception rather than the rule to exclude disabled people from particular jobs and tasks.

Lighten the Load Campaign

  CWU Merseyside Amalgamated Branch
Branch: 0151 709 1243
Fax: 0151 709 8269
Contact: Web Editor
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