Royal Mail accused of putting posties’ lives at risk by issuing ‘fancy dress’ face masks

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3 min read
In this March 5, 2020, photo, a Royal Mail employee wears gloves as he hold parcels and the signature handheld as he delivers in London. While white collar workers trying to avoid contagion can work from home or call in sick if they experience symptoms of the new virus, such precautions are not an options for the millions of waiters, delivery workers, cashiers, ride-hailing drivers, museum attendants and countless others who routinely come into contact with the public. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A Royal Mail employee wears gloves as he hold parcels and the signature handheld as he delivers in London. (AP)
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The Royal Mail has been accused of putting posties' lives at risk after issuing them with "fancy dress" face masks.

The black knitted cotton PPE has the words “Royal Mail Group” stitched onto the front.

However, the manufacturer Chinese firm Dongguan City Dan Dan Garments had a printed label on each one saying: “fashion, dress up and party”.

Labour councillor Sharon Taylor, who represents Malvern Link in Worcestershire, was alerted to the masks by a resident who works for the post office.

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Taylor said Royal Mail told her the fancy dress wording on the label was a "matter of interpretation".

She said: "I was horrified to discover that our local posties were last week given protective face masks that were made in China and only designed for 'fancy dress'.

A Royal Mail delivery worker in Ashford, Kent, during England's third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
A Royal Mail delivery worker in Ashford, Kent, during England's third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"They even had the audacity to put the Royal Mail name on the front. This is an insult by management to frontline postal workers putting their lives at risk.

"They [Royal Mail] came back to us and said they are okay. As far as I was concerned to actually have that written on them is very questionable.

"If they think they are okay and said it is just a matter of interpretation of what was actually written on them.

"When I first saw them I thought that is pretty horrific they are front line workers.

"I don't want to incriminate anybody I just want to make sure that people on the front line are safe.

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"They are battling this disease hard enough and people have to carry on without this concern.

"It would almost be better to have no masks at all than masks that are inadequate.

"As it gives people a false sense of security if they do not have adequate face coverings."

A statement on the Royal Mail website states: "Royal Mail's number one priority is keeping our people and our customers safe.

"We have already committed around £40 million on buying equipment such as hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and other protective measures."

"We are doing everything we can to protect our people and customers while remaining open for business and offering delivery services throughout the UK.

A Royal Mail postal worker preparers to deliver the mail at his van in London. According to Royal Mail, some areas of London have seen a reduced service as postal workers being off sick or self-isolating due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Steve Taylor / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A Royal Mail postal worker preparers to deliver the mail at his van in London. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

"We have taken a number of measures and provided preventative guidance to our colleagues.

"This includes promoting regular handwashing with soap and water, provision of hand sanitiser, disposable gloves and face coverings - available to those who require them."

Royal Mail has defended the masks, claiming they comply with safety regulations.

A spokesperson said: "The health and safety of our people is our number one priority. The reusable face coverings we have issued comply with relevant safety regulations.

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"Royal Mail underwent a rigorous selection process to pinpoint the most suitable reusable face coverings for our people.

"Samples from each supplier were thoroughly assessed against relevant product safety requirements related to the use of face coverings in the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The selected re-usable face coverings passed a number of tests to ensure the highest quality and effectiveness.

"Colleagues can also choose to wear a disposable face covering, and these are available on request."

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