Safe Handling of suspicious mail

There are risk associated with handling, sorting and delivering mail for your workplace or organisation. Workers should remain vigilant and cautious at all times. It is important to remember that all mail handling risks can be assessed, the way these risks might be eliminated and the control methods that can be used to reduce risks to an acceptable level if elimination of the risks is not possible. Safe Mail Handling covers tasks of workers throughout the workplace, mail often passes through many hands within your organisation after it arrives. Think about all your employees that are involved in the handling, sorting, and delivery of mail and associated tasks. Regular mail handling tasks include:There are risk associated with handling, sorting and delivering mail for your workplace or organisation. Workers should remain vigilant and cautious at all times. It is important to remember that all mail handling risks can be assessed, the way these risks might be eliminated and the control methods that can be used to reduce risks to an acceptable level if elimination of the risks is not possible. Safe Mail Handling covers tasks of workers throughout the workplace, mail often passes through many hands within your organisation after it arrives. Think about all your employees that are involved in the handling, sorting, and delivery of mail and associated tasks. Regular mail handling tasks include:

  • Sorting and arranging parcels
  • moving mail in and out of boxes/vehicles
  • loading and unloading of mail internal to your organisation
  • transferring mail via trolleys and other devices
  • Delivering mail to recipients
  • Opening mail as the recipient or assistant/receptionist

What Should you be aware of when working with mail?

In most cases suspicious packages turn out to be false alarms, this shouldn’t mean that proper safety procedures aren’t implemented. When suspicious mail does contain suspect content this can range from biological and chemical substances, infectious or flammable material, or explosive devices. There are often signs to be aware of which might indicate a suspicious package. These include:

  • Missing, foreign or unreadable return address
  • The Name or address of the recipient is incorrect or difficult to read, often the handwriting is purposely hard to read or homemade print labels are used.
  • The content of the parcel is suspicious. No we are not talking about a ticking noise coming from the parcel, although that would admittedly be worrying.  There are less cliche signs to pay attention to, such as:
    • Excessive wrapping or tying
    • Feeling wire or powder within the parcel
    • Packages with an irregular shape
    • Heavy parcels for their size, particularly where any type of non-office material deliveries are uncommon for your organisation
    • When parcels are addressed to specific individual with notes like “For X eyes only”, “Private – To be opened by X only”

Attorney General suggested course of action for suspicious parcels

If you have OPENED a suspicious package:

  • Place item in a plastic bag and seal it.
  • Place all items in a second plastic bag and seal that also.
  • Stay in your  immediate work area. This also applies to co-workers in the same room or within a close vicinity. Prevent others from entering the area and becoming contaminated. Remember you are not in immediate danger.
  • Call for help. This may be your supervisor or to 000 to ask for the Police or Fire Brigade. Be sure to communicate with the emergency service the following details:
    • Location – street address, building floor number etc…
    • Number of people remaining in the vicinity with you
    • Description of the package/device
    • What steps you have taken so far
  • Keep your hands away from your face to avoid contaminating your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If possible (without leaving your work area) wash your hands.
  • If possible have the building ventilation system shut down and turn off any fans or equipment that is circulating air around the workplace.
  • Wait for help to arrive

If you NOT OPENED a suspicious package:

  • Do not disturb the item any further. Do not pass it around. If any material has spilt from the item, do not try to clean it up, or brush it from your clothing.
  • If possible place an object over the package without disturbing it such as a large waste bin.
  • Stay in your immediate work area. This also applies to co-workers in the same room or within a close vicinity. Prevent others from entering the area and becoming contaminated.
  • If there is a strong/overpowering odour move to an adjoining room closing all doors and windows and stay in that area until help arrives.
  • Call for help. This may be your supervisor or to 000 to ask for Police or Fire Brigade depending on your situation. Be sure to communicate with the emergency service the following details:
    • Location – street address, building floor number etc…
    • Number of people remaining in the vicinity with you
    • Description of the package/device
    • What steps you have taken so far
  • Keep your hands away from your face to avoid contaminating your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If possible (without leaving your work area) wash your hands.
  • If possible have the building ventilation system shut down and turn off any fans or equipment that is circulating air around the workplace.
  • Wait for help to arrive

If you suspect the mail item may contain an explosive device

If you would like to learn more about Safe Mail Handling and train your employees then RMTO offers a Safe Mail Handling Course .

Source –  Attorney-General’s Department

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2017-07-10T12:32:39+00:00

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