A health and safety issue has been highlighted in the Company which we need to resolve and which we have discussed with the trade unions. The issue relates to the cab seat weight limits which apply to some of the buses in our fleet.
There is a 20 stone (130 kilo) cab seat weight limit on the Optare Solo and Versa buses and a 23 stone (150k) cab seat weight limit on the Alexander Dennis buses. In the event that a bus is driven by a person in excess of the relevant weight limit this could result in a seat giving way which in turn could lead to an accident. Accordingly we are seeking to identify any employees who drive buses as part of their job who weigh in excess of 20 stone.
If you believe that you exceed this weight please approach your line manager in confidence. Should your weight exceed that limit you will be referred to the Company's Occupational Health provider for assessment and advice on weight loss and the appropriate time period over which weight can safely be lost to achieve the target weight. Upon receipt of the advice from the medical officer, where possible the manager will consider and discuss with you any additional appropriate measures/support which may be available to assist you.
Drivers who are above the 20 stone weight limit will be reallocated to drive buses with a higher weight limit wherever possible or otherwise redeployed on other available duties which they are fit to undertake. Provided that the employee is making progress within the agreed timescale he/she will continue to work on restricted driving/alternative duties and the overall objective will be that the employee returns to normal duties as soon as possible.
We are aware that this is a very sensitive issue and the Company management and indeed all employees will be expected to treat it as such. I trust that you will understand the need to address this issue but should this letter give rise to any questions or concerns please raise them with your line manager or trade union representative.
The letter was produced following the acceptance by Stagecoach that this was a company-wide health and safety issue that needed clarity through central planning and implementation and recently all local managers were told to cease whatever actions they had implemented until the outcome of a joint meeting between Stagecoach H&S people and the trade unions. The letter above is the joint outcome.
There are still a few unanswered questions, the main one being what happens if a driver of 23 stone refuses to lose weight? As individuals we're free to live our lives as we see fit. When he applied to join Stagecoach he wasn't told to be under a certain weight. Bus driving is a sedentary activity and so consists of those over this weight. Pooling Versas and Solos to 'skinny depots' is likely not to be an option! Moving drivers from rota to rota is, depending on what types of vehicle operate. (Banshee)
Why not just refuse to purchase further Optare Solos and Versas until they come with seats able to carry heavier weights? That would get the ball rolling! - Eds.