GSP 18-22 Driver Rollaways



The Company continues to raise concerns with the Union in relation to driver safety issues, in particular, the failure to engage the handbrake correctly which can result in a rollaway. This has the potential to cause serious damage, injury or fatality, to either drivers or pedestrians.

The Union has worked closely with the Company at the JCC Health and Safety Committee on a campaign to reduce the risk of rollaway vehicle accidents. The Union has also assisted members subjected to disciplinary proceedings as a result of rollaways. The Company has applied disciplinary sanctions from 1st level written warning and a caution of possible dismissal. In some instances, the Company has sought payment of the cost of damage to other Company vehicles, third party vehicles, or buildings which in many cases amounted to thousands of euros.

During the initial disciplinary cases, the Union advanced there was a responsibility on the Company to have in place an engineering solution to warn the Postal Operative when the handbrake was not correctly engaged. The Company has responded by putting in place a solution which involves the installation of buzzers to alert the driver when the handbrake is not properly engaged.

Subsequent to a follow-up meeting, the Company has responded to a number of consequential issues raised by the Union.

1. Issues associated with the need to pull the handbrake to a higher level than heretofore

Some members advised that they were experiencing difficulties with the effort required to pull handbrakes to the required level. The Company informed us that the buzzer alarms are set to the required level so that the vehicle would remain stationary on the varying slopes encountered. Where a staff member indicates that they have a difficulty in reaching this level, they will refer them to Occupational Health who can assess what practical measures the Company can put in place to ensure the staff member concerned can work safely. The Company will engage with its medical advisors, Operations and Transport to ascertain what reasonable accommodations are needed where practicable.

2. Issues related to the handbrake buzzer continuing to sound when the vehicle is in motion

This was raised as an issue during the initial rollout and the Company addressed this in the Question and Answers document, they issued earlier this year. This, they advise, requires the driver to stop the vehicle, fully engage the handbrake and again disengage the handbrake and this will remedy the issue.

3. The radio switches off when the handbrake buzzer sounds

This is part of the safety device and designed to ensure the driver can hear the alarm sounding.

4. The radio switching off when the door is open

This is a safety feature of some vehicles and the Company believe that this is part of the design to avoid a running down of the battery, especially in electric vehicles and is not related to the handbrake buzzer.

5. Issues with the Bluetooth connection in vehicles related to hands free phone use.

Not all vehicles have Bluetooth devices, but the Company were assured by Transport that having examined several vehicles with Bluetooth, this was unaffected by the buzzer system. When the Buzzer sounds, devices such as telephones will be inactive. Like most safety devices in any car, the radio and phone will be muted while warning alarms sound.

6. Electric Vehicles travelling at low speeds

All electric vehicles manufactured since 2019 are required to make an audible noise when reversing and travelling at slow speeds. The Company advise that this because they have quieter engines and therefore, they have a requirement to warn pedestrians of a moving vehicle in the vicinity. This is a standard safety feature of such vehicles and unrelated to installation of handbrake buzzers.

In agreeing to this initiative, it is important to remember why we are doing it. The number of vehicle rollaways continues to be high. These are extremely dangerous events, whereby the driver is unable to take any action to avoid a collision with either other vehicles, pedestrians or third-party property. These incidents have the potential to lead to personal injury, death and many cases thousands of euros in damage. It is incumbent on us all to do everything possible to prevent such instances. It is our belief that the installation of such alarms will assist members who may fail to properly engage the handbrake.

The Union contends the long-term solution for safety and comfort lies in the future design of vans and we have highlighted this to the Company. The van or truck is the Postal Operatives’ Office and this needs to be factored in when buying or hiring new vans.

We have suggested the Company have fully automated handbrakes with a push button mechanism, which would be more effective and would reduce the effort required to use the handbrake. This together with the future design of vehicles, will be the focus of the Union’s attention at the Health and Safety Committee.

We will continue to keep this issue under review.

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