12 May 2021
Our Ref: C1/21
To: All Branches
Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 009) – Use of Knives – Serious Cut Hand Injury:
Following a serious accident, caused by a knife and resulting in a severe cut injury to a worker’s hand (see attached photograph) whilst working in a Royal Mail Parcel Sort Centre, the attached urgent RMG SHE Flash FY21 009 ‘Use of Knives’ has been issued in order to raise the profile of the inappropriate use of knives in the workplace which was in breach of the ‘mandatory’ Safe System of Work and involved the use of the incorrect type of knife.
The Safety Flash links to a reviewed and updated ‘Safe Working Instruction’ (copy attached) which clearly details the requirements for using knives in the operation. There are only two types of knives which are officially approved by Royal Mail Group (RM & PFWW) and which should be issued to employees (other than for specialist tasks). Any other knives in use must be removed and disposed of. Office/Unit Managers and PiCs have been requested to communicate the details of the Safety Flash and Safe Working Instruction to their workforce and display the Safety Flash on the SHE Notice Board.
All Royal Mail Group workers who use knives during the course of their work (e.g. RM Processing, RM Distribution, RM Parcelforce Worldwide).
Overview and Background:
Royal Mail Group Safety Health and Environment Group have issued ‘Safety Flash’, number FY21 009, (copy attached), which gives a summary of the recent serious cut hand injury accident. On investigation it was found that unapproved, not officially supplied knives
were in use at the site concerned and the Safe System of Work was not being followed. The ‘Safety Flash’ is to form the basis of a Unit Briefing to provide safety information and instruction to all staff working in operations where knives are used in order to raise awareness of the potential risk of similar incidents which could cause a serious cut injury accident.
The use of knives is required for some operational tasks – e.g., for cutting shrink wrap, bag ties and cardboard. Royal Mail Group Assets provides approved safety knives for specific tasks. These knives have been risk assessed and meet safety standards. They are available as RMG catalogue stores items. Other knives must not be procured or used. In this case an unapproved knife which was not fit for purpose had been provided and was being used.
The ‘mandatory’ Safe Working Instruction was not being followed by the accident victim concerned.
Description of the Incident:
The incident occurred when a worker was cutting cardboard incorrectly with an unapproved knife and slashed his hand causing a serious, deep laceration which required hospital treatment, several stiches and medication.
Impact and Effect:
The misuse of knives can cause a significant injury, if the knives are not fit for purpose and are used incorrectly.
Key Learning Points.
Knives must only be used for authorised operational
Only RMG approved safety knives must be used and these are available from the RMG stores catalogue.
Always follow the Safe Working Instruction.
There is a serious risk of injury if this is not adhered to.
Key Management Activity and Messages to Staff:
Communicate and display the SHE Safety Flash on the SHE Notice board.
Brief staff on the ‘Operation and Use of Knives Safe Working Instruction (SWI)’ to all relevant staff and complete training based on the content.
Review all knives that are used on site and remove all of those that are not compliant with the Safe Working Instruction (SWI).
Only where the specific task requires it should compliant, authorised, knives be provided and used. These must be ordered from the RMG catalogue where required. These will either be a ‘Fish Knife’ or the ‘Auto-Retractable Knife’. No other types of knife are permitted unless specifically approved via a separate risk assessment.
Only use a knife for its designated purpose – as identified in the approved knives and usage section of the SWI.
Only trained individuals must use a knife for an operational task. This can be completed by a manager or a Workplace Coach.
The relevant SSOW for the task must be followed.
Use appropriate PPE.
Monitor the use of knives to ensure compliance to the SWI.
Copy of RMG SHE Safety Flash FY21 009 – ‘Use of Knives’.
Copy of RMG Safe Working Instruction – ‘Operation and Use of Knives’ (Fish Knife and Auto-Retractable Knife).
Photograph of the Knife Accident Victim’s Injury.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer