15 January 2024
Our Ref: V4/24
To: All Branches
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY24 001 – Royal Mail Van Roll Away Incident:
Introduction, Background and Description:
Royal Mail Group’s Safety Team have issued ‘RMG SHE Safety Flash FY24 001 on the subject of ‘Royal Mail Van Roll Away Incidents’ which can be avoided by following the ‘HIT’ acronym process (‘HIT’ – Handbrake on, In Gear, Turn The Wheels).
The incident occurred when a Royal Mail postman driver was carrying out his regular delivery duty. The delivery round normal route was disrupted by a road closure causing the driver to make a 25-minute detour, which the driver reported had caused him some distress, becoming agitated and anxious as he needed to finish his duty on time. When parking the van at the next delivery point address following the diversion, the 3 point ‘HIT’ process was not followed. The handbrake was applied, but the wheels were not turned and the van was not left in gear. The van’s handbrake was faulty and did not hold the vehicle in place.
The vehicle rolled backwards approximately 25 metres downhill, through road and street works, where it then collided with a parked BT Openreach van causing damage to both vehicles.
This SHE Flash has been issued to once again raise awareness of the need for drivers to follow ‘HIT’, highlight the risks of these types of incidents and to communicate the ‘HIT’ process to all Van drivers.
Two vehicles were damaged but fortunately the two BT engineers working in the roadworks area were not in the path of the runaway Royal Mail van and so were uninjured. The Royal Mail van postman driver has over 35 years of experience of driving for Royal Mail with no previous incidents or road traffic collisions. Due to the incident, the driver was suspended from driving duties pending an investigation. Had the runaway van struck someone, the consequences could have been much more serious.
Employers and Managers are required by the Health and Safety at Work Act (S2) to ensure the health and safety of the workforce and to put in place a safe system of work.
Employees/Drivers are required by the Health and Safety at Work Act (S7) to co-operate with the employer so far as is necessary to enable the employer’s health and safety duties and safe systems of work to be performed or complied with. These duties are mandatory by law. Secondly, the police can charge a driver whose van has rolled away with the offence of driving without due care and attention (careless driving) under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Key Messages, Learning Points, Advice and for PiCs, Managers and Workforce:
Ensure they undertake pre-use checks of their van, including checking that the handbrake engages fully and correctly.
Fully complete the ‘HIT’ process when parking their van – handbrake must be fully applied, vehicle to be left in gear, park the van with the wheels turned to/from the kerb or a point of safety.
Remember that a correctly functioning handbrake will hold the vehicle if correctly applied, but even without the handbrake functioning, the rollaway in this case would not have occurred if the vehicle had been left in gear/park. Whilst there was no kerb present, turning the wheels would have meant the vehicle came to rest safely.
Not allow external factors to influence or distract them from following driver safety procedures fully and correctly.
Complete the mandatory pre-use vehicle checks and report any defects using the PMT1 process.
Speak with their line manager if they feel unable to complete their duty in a safe manner.
PiCs and Managers Key Actions:
Ensure all drivers are shown and briefed on ‘RMG SHE Safety Flash FY24 001, Royal Mail Van Roll Away Incident.’ (Copy Attached).
Brief all van drivers on SHE Huddle FY23 022 ‘Roll Aways.’ (Copy Attached).
Promote and display the two ‘HIT’ safety posters. (Copies Attached).
Ensure all van drivers are shown the short video ‘Why Hit Works’ which is at this link: https://vimeo.com/900843076
CWU ASR/WSR Actions:
ASRs/WSRs please ensure that this Safety Flash is communicated and brought to the attention of all appropriate managers and van drivers, CWU members in Royal Mail and Parcelforce and that the SHE Flash actions are deployed by PiCs/Unit Managers. Additionally ensure all drivers are briefed on the SHE Flash, the SHE Huddle and that they watch the video on the above link.
ASRs to concentrate attention on this matter during Workplace Safety Inspections and ensure members are briefed.
Royal Mail has been averaging 150 van roll away incidents a year for the last decade. It is imperative for drivers to fully understand the correct procedures to protect themselves, the public and other road users. A van weighing several tons running away out of control can cause death, danger and significant damage to people and property – and we don’t want our members learning the hard way how important it is to park their vans safely on a hill, slope or even on the slightest of inclines or gradients. Several campaigns have been repeatedly promoted to raise awareness amongst drivers and ASRs/WSRs are asked to campaign locally on this important driver and road safety issue – REMEMBER the acronym ‘HIT’ to help avoid more ‘rollaway’ incidents:
H – Handbrake firmly on
I – In gear (first gear uphill – reverse gear downhill)
T – Turn the wheels (away from kerb up hill – towards kerb downhill).
See the HIT Video demonstrating the process at this link:
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY24 001- ‘Van Roll Away Incident’.
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Huddle FY23 022 – ‘Roll Aways’
Crashed Roll Away Royal Mail Van Images
Dave JoyceNational Health, Safety & Environment Officer