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16833.  Tue Mar 29, 2005 6:33 am Reply with quote

I’ve been unable to find any stand-up source on this, but I gather that low-level letterboxes are illegal in the Republic of Ireland, for health and safety reasons - they tend to cripple posties - and the Communication Workers’ Union in the UK has apparently been campaigning against them since the 1950s. As anyone who’s ever done a bit of house-to-house leafletting will confirm, this is a noble cause indeed.

17314.  Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:04 am Reply with quote

An article I saw today suggests a need for caution with communications:

Prisoners told to open bank letters
By Paul Stokes
(Filed: 08/04/2005)

Inmates were asked to open correspondence giving details of people's bank accounts while they were involved in paper recycling work at a high security jail.

The letters, which were marked "return to sender", were being prepared for recycling under a contract between Durham prison and a private firm.

At least one burglar gained access to a NatWest customer's information.

Durham, with a capacity for 746 prisoners, originally took on work compiling a database of mail returned from households where the person was not known. Those involved were asked to note down the name of the company sending the mail and it was decided last week to re-use the waste.

Prisoners were asked to open envelopes to remove plastic address windows before the paper was recycled.

Officers supervising the work alerted Jennifer Mooney, the acting governor, after an inmate approached them about the bank details.

A source at the prison, which houses men and women up to category A, said: "When the letters were torn open, a multitude of cheques and letters containing bank details were found.

"This sort of information would be right up the street of some of the people we have in here."

The Home Office said the work had been discontinued for security reasons.

17364.  Sun Apr 10, 2005 8:24 am Reply with quote

At least one burglar gained access to a NatWest customer's information.

is a gallant attempt to find a dramatic angle to the story; evidently this one guy was the one who went to the screws and pointed out the problem. And my bet is that the description of him as a "burglar" was a complete invention.

198808.  Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:06 am Reply with quote

Mat, just a fornight after you posted the original question about low-level letter boxes came this news story:

The government has rejected calls from the CWU to enact European building regulation standard EN13724 outlawing low level letter boxes.

The European Standard EN 13724 states that for "ergonomic and safety reasons" the centreline of the letter box aperture should be at a height between 2 ft 3.5 inches (700 mm) and 5ft (1700mm).

A couple of months later came the following Early Day Motion:

That this House supports the campaign by the Communication Workers Union calling for Government action on the problem of low level letter boxes; notes that there are around 3,000 back injuries to postmen and women each year in Royal Mail and that delivering to low level letter boxes at the base of a house front door forces postal staff to stoop to ground level whilst carrying a satchel of mail weighing up to 16kg (35lbs) and causes a serious risk of back strain; considers that the Government should implement the specifications set out in current European Standard (EN 13724) covering private letter boxes, which for ergonomic and safety reasons specifies the height, positioning and design of letter boxes in order that the safe delivery of mail can be made without the risk of injury; and further notes that the standard sets down that the centreline of the letter box aperture should be at a height between 700 mm (2ft 3.5inches) and 1700 mm (5ft 7inches).

This then is a European directive which in not currently encased in law in this country. Can't find anything for ireland yet though.

198823.  Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:18 am Reply with quote

Surely the way to avoid back injury is to crouch with the legs, rather than stooping with the back.

And would a letterbox 2ft 3.5 inches above the ground really avoid stooping, or have Royal Mail started employing jockies?

198836.  Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:48 am Reply with quote

It isn't actually an EU directive - it (as other standards called EN) is a voluntary standard which has come from the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).

The difference is that the EU can't actually do nasty things to the UK if it fails to comply - and the Government has made it clear that it has not the slightest intention of doing so in this instance.

Hansard, here

As for Ireland, it's the Building Regulations (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2000 that you need. According to an abstract published in the Law Society Gazette (October 2000), those regulations require that "letter box openings in doors shall be positioned at a reasonable height above ground level so as not to endanger the health and safety of persons using such letter boxes".

198842.  Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:10 am Reply with quote

Thanks Suze - my use of the word "directive" was pure lazy journalism. Sorry.

Hans Mof
198843.  Thu Aug 09, 2007 11:23 am Reply with quote

In Germany letterboxes have to be on groundfloor level as not to overexert postmen. Well, almost in all of Germany except my current hometown Kiel. A lot of old buildings still have mail slots in the doors to each flat. My postman for example has to deliver letters to about 250 four to five storey buildings (no lift!).

I quite enjoy the summer as he's wearing shorts and I'm able to admire his muscular calves and his perfectly formed buttocks...

Sorry, I'm getting carried away.


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