8 December 2023
Our Ref: C11/23
To: All Branches
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY23 024 (V2) – Powered Conveyor Finger Amputation Accidents Caused By Wearing Gloves:
Introduction, Background and Description:
Royal Mail Group’s Safety Team have issued ‘RMG SHE Safety Flash FY23 024’ (Version 2) on the subject of ‘Powered Conveyor Finger Amputation Accidents, Caused By Wearing Gloves. As a result of these accidents, the wearing of gloves whilst working on powered conveyors has now been prohibited and banned. This follows a series of similar accidents with one recent case in particular highlighting the danger when a worker had their glove trapped and drawn into the conveyor, causing the victim to suffer the part amputation of a finger. Following a review risk assessment by RMG’s SHE Team the RMG Processing Safe System of Work has been updated, to prohibit the routine wearing of gloves when interacting with any powered conveyor.
This SHE Flash has been issued to raise awareness, highlight the risks of these types of accidents and to communicate the new safety, risk control measure which is ‘Mandatory’.
Serious, life changing hand injuries including finger amputation.
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 provide a workplace that is a safe place and has a safe system with safe plant and equipment.
Employees 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.
Key Messages, Learning Points, Advice for PiCs, Managers and Workforce:
In the recent and other similar accidents, the employee was wearing gloves, and a glove finger was caught and drawn into the conveyor. The employee’s glove then pulled in the fingers and whole hand before the conveyor was emergency stopped. Severe injury was caused by the hand being crushed and a part finger amputation.
Belt conveyors present similar risks to glove wearers, as do the risks from roller conveyors.
Wearing gloves is now therefore ‘prohibited’ when working on powered conveyors with the following exceptions as these specific tasks present no risk of hands being in contact and being drawn in to conveyors:
Working on an extending boom conveyor to unload vehicles
Tipping/Loading into a machine (hands are not near the powered conveyor)
Taking items off a machine outfeed where that section of the machine – rollers/chute – is non-powered
PiCs and Managers’ Key Actions:
RMG has safety controls in place within the Processing SSoW prohibiting loose clothing. Gloves must not now be worn when working on/interacting with any powered part of a conveyor. Powered belt or roller bed conveyors can all trap and draw in gloves then fingers and hands, causing serious injury.
Gloves and loose clothing can be pulled into conveyors easily in an instant. All gloves grip a hand tight when caught in a machine and can draw the whole hand in.
Some gloves are permitted and can continue to be used i.e., Needlestick protective gloves in areas where these are required.
Correctly sized gloves (see manufacturers hand charts) can be worn ONLY when using extending boom conveyors or when tipping/loading into hoppers/infeeds and whilst taking an outfeed on a non-powered conveyor part of the machine which is safe.
Managers are to communicate the Safety Flash (V2) and revised Safe System of Work to all those who use and work on automation equipment/powered conveyors as per the business unit, ensuring employees understand gloves on powered conveyors is prohibited – this includes all Royal Mail and Parcelforce operational sites.
Managers are to undertake increased monitoring in automation/powered conveyor work areas with focused Safety Conversations taking place.
Provide Barrier Cream to colleagues via pumped dispensers to provide hand protection against dirt/loss of skin oils etc.
Prohibit employees under the age of 18 from using automation equipment.
CWU ASR/WSR Actions:
ASRs/WSRs please ensure that this Safety Flash is communicated and brought to the attention of all appropriate managers and CWU members in Royal Mail and Parcelforce and that the SHE Flash actions are deployed by PiCs/Unit Managers and their teams.
ASRs to concentrate attention on this matter during Workplace Safety Inspections and ensure members are briefed.
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY23 024- Powered Conveyor Finger Amputation Accidents (V2).
Dave JoyceNational Health, Safety & Environment Officer