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York Royal Mail workers say not enough being done to protect them

28 Mar 2020, 14:43 ... e-protect/

WORKERS at a York postal sorting office that employs about 250 staff say not enough is being done to protect them in the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic.

One worker, who works for Royal Mail in Leeman Road, said that because they are key workers and their job can’t be done from home, they have to go to work, but that they are terrified of catching the virus.

Another, who did not want to be named, said: “There are 250 people working in that building in close proximity and without proper protection. There's no PPE (personal protective equipment), nobody has got a mask on, there’s very little hand sanitizer to go round and people are not staying a safe distance apart. It’s just insanity.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said that they are taking the outbreak seriously and have introduced a range of measures to protect staff.

Shane O’Riordain, Royal Mail Managing Director of Regulation and Corporate Affairs said: “We introduced a new social distancing policy on Tuesday. It has been implemented in the vast majority of our sites. Where implementation is not perfect we are working hard to ensure that is it. Moving to one person per delivery van is a major logistical shift for the postal service. We are doing it.

“Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously. We have introduced a range of new social distancing measures aimed at offering further protection for our colleagues. Standard ways of working are being revised to ensure that, wherever possible, colleagues stay two metres apart. We are implementing a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time. Processes have been further reviewed to minimise the passing of work between colleagues. And we are calling for the washing of hands when colleagues enter and leave Royal Mail buildings, as well as at regular times during the day.

“In line with guidance from the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and public health authorities, we are advising colleagues that good hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence. We have taken a number of measures and provided preventative guidance to our colleagues. This includes promoting regular hand washing with soap and water. We have good supplies of soap and paper towels. We are also providing disposable latex gloves, available on request. We are keeping colleagues informed through notices, and internal TV updates.

“The hand soap that we provide is effective for hand washing and good hand hygiene in line with the guidance from public health authorities. It is also possible to use sanitiser or gel. However, there are long lead times for these products. We are trying to get it. But, so is everyone else. We continue to act on public health authority advice which is updated daily.”

“In the meantime we share regular updates and information with colleagues. We have also adopted enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas in all Royal Mail sites on a daily basis. We are monitoring the situation closely.

“Public health authorities have advised people receiving parcels are not at risk of contracting coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels. This complements the highly publicised guidance from public health authorities for people to wash their hands more often than usual using soap and hot water.

“These actions form part of a package of measures being taken by Royal Mail to protect both its customers and its colleagues. We would like to thank all our colleagues across the UK for helping to keep the nation connected in such difficult circumstances. The Universal Postal Service provides a lifeline to businesses and communities everywhere. The delivery of parcels and letters is a key way of keeping the country together and helping many people who may not have the option to leave their homes. Their work at this time is hugely appreciated.”

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