Health & Safety

19 June

Can you provide me with health and safety guidance now lockdown is being relaxed?
The NFSP has put together a guidance document to support branches with health and safety as lockdown eases. The document provides advice on several key areas, including your responsibility as an employer, social distancing among customers and employees, social distancing where employees are not able to be 2 metres apart and information on sourcing PPE and other materials such as signage for your retail. The guidance has been emailed to NFSP members and is available here.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is also regularly updating their resources for retailers, so please do read their best practice and see what measures can be applied to your branch. You can read more here.

How can I maintain social distancing outside my branch?
To help support you in maintaining effective social distancing outside your branch, this week branches will be able to order new exterior self-adhesive floor markers if required. Please look out for details of how to order these in Branchfocus. In addition, from the start of July, we’ll be sending out a roll of exterior hazard tape together with a tape measure to all but our smallest branches across the network.


 

11 June

What other PPE can you provide for branches? (Updated 28 May and 11 June, originally published 15 May)
The PPE items listed below are still available and we expect stocks to last until early August, but moving forward we will not provide PPE on an ongoing basis:

  • Order PPE gloves through Branch Hub – we have supplies available. Based on current order levels we expect stocks to be available for at least 6-8 weeks and we will continue to control order levels to ensure everyone can benefit from this for as long as possible.
  • Hand sanitiser and soap will continue to be sent out through usual Non-Value Stock deliveries in June, and again in July.
  • By the end of next week, you and your team members should have received a face visor each. These are wipeable and come with a storage bag so should last a long time. We have worked with Postmasters on a range of options before selecting the final version – you can see a picture of the visor here.
  • In August, we will distribute the remaining stocks of hand soap.
  • If you are looking for additional screens, for example customer panels, we can give you details of our supplier who supports with our in branch design if you wish to purchase these yourself. Details are available through your Area Manager.

We want to develop best practice examples of what you are doing in your branch from a health and safety perspective, so please share these with your Area Manager and we can cascade more widely.

Will you be supplying me with PPE after August?
At the start of the pandemic, you told us stocks of PPE were low and difficult to obtain and we believed it was right, during the height of the crisis, to supply PPE to independent Postmasters to support your health and safety.

We expect our stocks of PPE to last until early August, but moving forward we will not provide PPE on an ongoing basis. Sourcing PPE items such as gloves and sanitiser are becoming easier to find as stocks are returning to normal, so please plan ahead and purchase what you need to keep your employees and customers safe. As we all now adjust to living as normally as possible while the virus is still around, PPE will become a usual part of running any business.

Do you have any further health and safety advice following the Prime Minister’s briefing about the next stage of lockdown measures? (Updated, originally published 15 May)
PPE is just one part of the answers to health and safety risks that may exist in your own branch. You will need to conduct your own risk assessment, so that you are fulfilling your health and safety obligations towards your employees and others. PPE may be part of that picture. Other aspects such as space within branch, ability to queue outside, will also be factors.

Businesses with five or more employees are required to carry out a risk assessment to ensure their business is Covid-19 secure. Please check the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website for latest guidance and templates – but please note that risk assessment templates change on a regular basis based on Government guidance and there are also country specific requirements that all employers and business owners must follow:

There is also a useful guide you can use with your employees on how to reduce the risk of coronavirus in the branch and we have provided a checklist for your daily branch checks.


 

28 May

What does Track and Trace mean for me and my branch?
This morning, the NHS Track and Trace service has launched. Through this, people who've been in close contact with someone found to have Covid-19 in England and Scotland are now being traced by health workers. The contact tracers will ask people they get in touch with to self-isolate for 14 days. Please follow government guidelines for this. If you have to close your branch or reduce your hours, please let your Area Manager know and report any changes to trading hours through Branch Hub.

What about social distancing measures outside my branch? (Updated, originally published 21 May)
Over the weekend, the Prime Minister announced further plans on easing lockdown measures. Non-essential retail shops can start to reopen from 15 June. The expected increase in customer numbers, could lead to queues so we'll also support your business with external marker tape, a tape measure and extra social distancing posters to display in your branch, to supplement the existing materials. You can see the new poster here. We have also created outdoor floor markers for branches – please look out for details how to order these through Branch Focus. 

What other PPE can you provide for branches? (Updated, originally published 15 May)
Face visors and additional PPE such as hand sanitisers have now started to go out to all branches as part of the non-value stock deliveries. These deliveries will continue over the next fortnight. Each employee in your team will receive a visor, they can add their name on the box on the side of the visor and keep these in the storage bags which we are also providing. We have worked with Postmasters on a range of options before selecting the final version – you can see a picture of the visor here.


 

21 May

As a key worker, will I get a Coronavirus test? (Updated 21 May, 1 May, 27 April, originally published 24 April)
The Health Secretary has announced anyone aged five and over in the UK with Covid-19 symptoms is eligible for a test. The Government had previously announced in April that those providing critical services and all essential workers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and members of their households – including Postmasters and their assistants – who are showing symptoms of Covid-19, would be able to get tested and as providers of critical services.

How can I book a coronavirus test? (Updated 21 May, 1 May, originally published 27 April)
The Health Secretary has announced anyone aged five and over in the UK with Covid-19 symptoms is eligible for a test. This service is for people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland – further information is available here. People in Wales can ask for a home test kit or make drive-through appointments at regional test sites – guidance is available here. 

Are there any new Covid-19 symptoms?
You may be aware that in recent weeks people have been reporting a loss or change to sense of smell and taste, in addition to the existing Covid-19 symptoms of a new, consistent cough and high temperature. The government has now added this as an official symptom and advises people, including key workers, with any of these symptoms to isolate.

When will I receive the PPE gloves I ordered on Branch Hub?
Over 1,600 orders have been placed on Branch Hub and they will be delivered within 14 days, as part of your next non-value stock delivery. We will also add other PPE, such as hand sanitisers, to these deliveries. 

What about social distancing measures outside my branch?
As we adjust to the new ways of living and working, and as more retailers start to open in the coming weeks, it is likely that certain social distancing measures will remain in place for quite some time. This may lead to more customers queuing outside on the pavements so please do work with neighbouring businesses about managing this for your branch(es). From the beginning of June, we'll be supporting you with some extra social distancing materials inside the branch, to supplement the existing materials already supplied. Plus, we will supporting you with new exterior markers to help you manage social distancing outside the branch. We’ll share further details next week.


 

15 May

I need more PPE gloves, how can I order them?
You can order additional supplies of PPE gloves through Branch Hub. The new feature is available now and lets you place an order every 14 days to get the quantities and sizes that you need. Click on the link to find out more about ordering PPE gloves.

What other PPE can you provide for branches?
We are also reviewing the other PPE support we can provide you. We have already ordered face visors for all branches and these will arrive for distribution around the end of the month. We have worked with Postmasters on a range of options before selecting the final version. We are aware some Postmasters are also asking about PPE for customers so we are considering options and will update you soon.

Do you have any further health and safety advice following the Prime Minister’s briefing about the next stage of lockdown measures?
Businesses with five or more employees are required to carry out a risk assessment to ensure their business is Covid-19 secure. Please check the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website for latest guidance and templates – but please note that risk assessment templates change on a regular basis based on Government guidance and there are also country specific requirements that all employers and business owners must follow

There is also a useful guide you can use with your employees on how to reduce the risk of coronavirus in the branch and we have provided a checklist for your daily branch checks.


 

1 May

As a key worker, will I get a Coronavirus test? (update, published 24 April and updated 27 April)
The Government has announced that those providing critical services and all essential workers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and members of their households, who are showing symptoms of Covid-19, will now be able to get tested and as providers of critical services. Postmasters and their assistants would qualify. We’ll update you when we have more information about accessing tests in Wales.

How can I book a coronavirus test? (update, published 27 April)
You can find more information about how to access Covid-19 tests here, including information about testing in Northern Ireland. We’ll update the site again when we have more information about accessing tests in Wales.


 

23 April

I’ve not received any hand sanitiser yet, what’s happening with the delivery? (published 17 April)
We received the order in batches so we have distributed hand sanitiser to a large number of branches already and all independent branches should now receive hand sanitiser by the end of this week. We can confirm that we received additional stock on Friday (17 April) and a second delivery is being distributed from Monday (20 April).


 

19 April

What support do you offer if I’ve suffered abusive or violent behaviour from customers?
Protecting Postmasters and those who work in Post Offices from violence and abuse is a priority for Post Office and we are working with the British Retail Consortium, the Home Office, the Police and the National Business Crime Centre to ensure that violence and abuse against shop workers is a higher priority within Government and policing. We’ve created a poster reminding customers that violence and abuse will not be tolerated, which is available to download here and will also be printed and distributed to branches next week.

If you haven’t already, we would strongly encourage you to register for the Post Office Grapevine service. The Grapevine service has been protecting Post Office since 2006 and can be used to report any criminal activity or suspicious behaviour, including incidents of violence and abuse, allowing the Post Office Security team to provide expert help and support to you when you are the victim of crime. The Grapevine team are able to escalate incidents to your local Security Manager, who can provide further guidance on how to handle difficult situations and will work with local Police to help you. You can register with Grapevine by contacting 0345 603 4004.

How should I deal with customers who become violent or abusive?
Our security team have provided the following guidance on how to deal with customers who are violent or abusive:

  • Firstly, and most importantly, you should always prioritise your own safety – nothing you sell is worth risking your safety over and you cannot protect others unless you protect yourself
  • If you are concerned about your personal safety, use your panic alarm or ring 999 to get an emergency Police response
  • Where appropriate, think about ways in which you can defuse the situation
  • When it is safe and appropriate to do so, you should report the incident to both the Police and the Post Office Grapevine service.

Further best practice on dealing with violence and abuse in retail is available in the following video from the Association of Convenience Stores. 

The ACS website also has some information and generic advice on its Crime Prevention pages


 

17 April

 

I’ve not received any hand sanitiser yet, what’s happening with the delivery?
It was our intention to supply all our independent branches with hand sanitiser by the end of this week so we apologise for the delay. We received the order in batches, so while we have been able to distribute to a large number of branches already, some branches will not receive hand sanitiser until early next week. We can confirm that we received additional stock today, so it will be despatched as soon as we can.


15 April

I’ve experienced abusive behaviour from customers about social distancing in branch, what should I do?
We’re very sorry to hear about your experience – Post Office provides 24/7 advice, information and support that for Postmasters, which includes trauma support. You can call our Agents Support Helpline for assistance on 0800 032 5712 and select Option 2. Further information is available in our leaflet, Support for agents following a traumatic incident at work.

My branch is currently closed but can I still be sent Personal Protective Equipment?
If your branch is currently closed but you would still like to receive personal protective equipment to use when you reopen, please let your Area Manager know and they will arrange this for you. 

Will you be sending out more floor stickers for social distancing in branch?
We have ordered more floor stickers, which will be distributed from next week.


14 April

The gloves you sent are too small, what should I do?
We sent out a variety of sizes based on available stock, but if you received small sized gloves you will receive another box of medium or large gloves from tomorrow.


9 April

Where can I find advice on health, safety and wellbeing?

You can find all our advice and answers to your questions around health and safety here. In addition, the NFSP have sent wellbeing advice to their members today, which you can find here.

Are you providing hand sanitiser? (originally published 23 March)
As you know, consistent with your status as key workers, we have been working hard for your businesses to be on the priority distribution list for stocks of hand sanitiser – but you will understand that NHS facilities are top of the list. We will be taking delivery of a stock of sanitizer early next week, and are putting extra Supply Chain resource in place to get a supply to all our independent branches by the end of next week. 

As employers, postmasters have a duty to support their employees and we would encourage you to follow the Public Health England guidance and promote good hygiene principles in your branches. The situation is evolving rapidly and so we recommend you regularly check the latest Government advice. Further information from the NHS, including answers to many questions raised, is available here.


 

7 April

The gloves you sent are too small, what should I do?
We sent out a variety of sizes based on available stock, but if you received small sized gloves you will receive another box of medium or large gloves from tomorrow.

My branch is currently closed but can I still be sent Personal Protective Equipment?
If your branch is currently closed but you would still like to receive personal protective equipment to use when you reopen, please let your Area Manager know and they will arrange this for you. 

Will you be sending out more floor stickers for social distancing in branch?
We have ordered more floor stickers, which will be distributed from next week.


 

1 April

If I’ve already paid for my own Perspex screen in branch, can I claim back the cost from Post Office?
Yes, based on the cost per unit of the Perspex screens we are now distributing to the independent network, we will reimburse you up to £60 including any distribution or installation costs. Please email us a copy of your invoice or receipt to Agent.remuneration@postoffice.co.uk, including your branch name and branch code so we know not to send you a Perspex screen from our stock.


 

22 March

How do I clean branch equipment?
Cleaning Horizon terminals

  • Power down the horizon terminal to avoid the risk of electrocution
  • Wipe the horizon terminal/screen with the a dry cloth (Micro Fibre cloth if available, if not a cotton tea towel)
  • Apply small amount of disinfectant/soapy water on to the cloth (do not spray the solution directly to the screen or pinpad) and wipe the screen/pinpad. An excess amount of water on the cloth can damage the equipment.
  • Wipe the terminal/pinpad again with a dry cloth to wipe off any excess moisture
  • Ensure the horizon terminal/pinpad is completely dry before powering it back on.

Disinfecting your computer, keyboard and LCD display

  • Squeeze out excess liquid from wipe or disinfecting cloth before using
  • It is safe to use a disinfecting wipe designed for office/home use. Some disinfecting wipes designed for medical use may cause discoloration, harm surfaces, or even affect functionality of your device. To minimise this please: Gently wipe the system thoroughly, being careful to ensure no liquid drips into the computer. Do not wipe on connector pins. Squeeze out excess liquid from wipe or disinfecting cloth before using
  • It is safe to use a disinfecting wipe designed for office/home use. Some disinfecting wipes designed for medical use may cause discoloration, harm surfaces, or even affect functionality of your device. To minimise this please:
  • After disinfecting, follow the cleaning procedure from the wipe supplier to minimize chemical build-up of disinfectant residue (i.e. wiping away any residual disinfectant after the prescribed contact time).
  • Always allow the computer to completely dry prior to any use.

Medical wipes and their chemical composition vary greatly. Depending on the chemicals, frequency, and duration of use, medical wipes may impact cosmetic appearance and system functionality. To minimise this risk, we recommend:

  • Hydrogen peroxide wipes (such as Virox Accel wipes w/ a maximum of 0.5% hydrogen peroxide)
  • Alcohol based wipes (such as PDI Germicidal or B.Braun Meliseptol Wipes sensitive)
  • Do not use wipes containing sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
  • Wiping away residual solvent as soon as possible after the prescribed contact time and wiping the surface again with a dry, lint-free, soft cloth