Somerset

Somerset postal workers given gloves to protect against needles

Royal Mail worker collecting post
Image caption The workers' union said it can be very stressful awaiting blood test results if injured by a needle

Protective gloves are issued to postal workers emptying a Somerset postbox used by drug addicts to dump needles.

Royal Mail shut the box on Lower Middle Street, Yeovil, last year saying that it was being used as a dumping ground by local drug users.

It will reopen once the postal workers have received the fabric-covered steel gloves on order for them.

A Communication Workers Union (CWU) spokesman said "all sorts of rubbish" was being dumped into post boxes.

'Pretty stressful'

"Unfortunately it is quite common and has been a historical problem for many years, mainly in towns and city centres and some other areas," said Kevin Beazer, South West regional secretary for the union.

"Some people think that postboxes are just another way of dumping all sorts of rubbish."

Royal Mail said the postbox had become "dangerous" for the staff who emptied it.

Spokesman Adrian Booth said "We have ordered specially reinforced gloves to enable the box to be emptied safely and then the postbox will be reinstated."

Mr Beazer added that he had dealt with some "pretty stressful cases" where people had been off work with stress and depression while they awaited blood test results.

He said: "We are told by GPs and hospital consultants that the risk is very low.

"However if you have got to go through that process where you are waiting for blood test results, the anxiety and stress that causes is not very pleasant at all."

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