HSE to investigate ‘Black Friday’ safety concerns

MPs and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have voiced concerns over the wellbeing of UK logistics workers during ‘Black Friday’ promotions.

The news comes after UK courier Hermes reportedly asked as many as 5,000 members of staff to work up to 20 days without a break, in order to keep up with consumer demand for speedy deliveries.

Reports suggest that delivery drivers who already work six days a week have now been asked to work seven by Hermes – which is expected to deliver some 750,000 parcels for major retailers such as Next and John Lewis during ‘Black Friday’ promotions.

According to a report in The Guardian, Hermes has told employees that Sunday work is “completely optional”.

However, a number of couriers have commented that they feel ‘under pressure’ to oblige.

One employee said: “They are requiring us, if we can’t get cover, to do the Sundays because they threaten to take our rounds off us. I am very concerned about safety”.

Another added: “It is dangerous. One Friday, after I’d worked two Sundays, I pretty much fell asleep and had to pull over … [But] I can’t afford to lose a round … We end up in a position where we almost aren’t given the option to say no.”

Labour MP and chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field, has called upon HSE to investigate the potential health and safety risk of Hermes’ requests – particularly with regard to road safety.

Meanwhile, UK consumers are expected to spend approximately £2.9bn over the four-day period following the promotion, which will take place on Friday 25 November. Online retail association IMRG predicts a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of parcels processed over ‘Black Friday’ weekend.