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Solystic PSM Accident – Operator’s Loose Clothing Trapped in Conveyor

No. 364/2022

12 September 2022

Our Ref: C38/22

To: All Branches

Dear Colleagues,

Solystic PSM Accident – Operator’s Loose Clothing Trapped in Conveyor – ‘Precautionary Safety Measure Briefing Instruction’ Issued By Royal Mail:

Following an accident which occurred last month and reported to the Health, Safety and Environment Department by our local ASR, the incident was drawn to the attention of the Royal Mail National Safety Director, Royal Mail Engineering Director plus it was referred to the Head of RMG Safety Programmes and the PSM Programme Safety Sub-Committee.

An immediate national investigation was requested along with a request for an urgent ‘National Level Safety Flash’ to be issued across the UK to all PSM offices with similar machines and other processing units, a joint investigation and a review of the SSoW/SWI (Safe Working Instructions) and operator training and information.

Briefly, the CWU ASR reported that the accident occurred as follows; there was a build-up of work on one of the conveyors and the operative who was manning the PSM station leaned over to free up the sensor beam which stops the induct conveyor when there is a build-up of work.

As he did so, the conveyor started moving and pulled his sleeve into the inductor conveyor. The OPG operative couldn’t reach the emergency stop button to stop the machine as his movement was limited by the fact his sleeve was being pulled into the machine, trapping him. Fortunately, a nearby manager heard his calls for help and pressed an emergency stop button on the PSM machine somewhere else. The emergency stop intervention possibly prevented a more severe injury to the OPG involved. The Mail Centre Management issued a local Safety Alert (copy attached).

The SSoW instructs operators not to lean across the conveyor belts whilst they are ‘moving’ – the anomaly here is the fact that the conveyor belt wasn’t moving but once the blockage had been cleared the sensor beam allowed the conveyor belt to re-stat whilst the operator was leaning across the conveyor belt. This led to lose clothing being pulled into the conveyor between the dispatch conveyor belt and the ‘Induct Station’.

Following discussions with the Royal Mail Group Head of Engineering and Fleet Safety, a full investigation has been launched and a ‘Precautionary Safety Measure Briefing Instruction’ has been issued for Solystic PSMs to Mail Centres concerned which has instructed those Mail Centres to “Remove Induct Operators’ Chairs” as an interim safety measure.

  • The Briefing Instruction was cascaded to all Plant Managers last week (copy attached).

  • A review of the incident is taking place with PSM manufacturers Solystics to jointly examine options for mitigating the ‘nip’ risk which occurs if staff reach across the conveyor or lean into the conveyor belt area.

  • In the interim, Royal Mail Safety are highlighting the required controls around no glove wearing, avoiding reaching/leaning onto the belt and avoiding loose clothing etc., which all contribute to the nip risk.

  • Induct Operators’ Seats have been removed as an ‘interim measure’ and will be locally stored whilst the investigation with the PSM manufacturer into the incident and ‘nip’ mitigation continues.

The ‘Precautionary Safety Measure Briefing Instruction’ (copy attached) covers the following:


  • In light of several safety incidents, Royal Mail will be removing the chairs at the induct stations as a precautionary measure, to ensure operator safety.

  • During safety investigations, the use of chairs at the induct station was identified as a contributory factor to the safety incidents, when operators rested their arm against the gap at the end of the dispatch conveyor.

  • The removal of chairs is a temporary measure until a permanent solution is established with the machine manufacturer (Solystic).

  • All operators should be aware of the safety standards which need to be followed when working on the induct station.

  • The Safe Working Instruction has been updated to conform to the new Standard Operating Practice.

Key Messages:

  • The use of chairs at all induct stations must cease immediately to reduce the risk of further safety incidents in the gap between the end of the dispatch belt and the induct station.

  • Managers must remind operators that they should not lean on, or touch the induct belt whilst it is stationary or moving, as this may result in a nip incident.

  • As this is a temporary measure, the induct chairs will be removed from the work area and stored securely until we have a permanent solution from Solystic.

  • The induct chairs must not be used in a different work area as they were specifically designed for use with the Solystic PSM.


Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

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