Australia Post insists its new high-capacity electric scooters are safe, despite concern about the number of posties injured and forced onto light duties in 2018.
Four delivery drivers have been hurt on their rounds in Newcastle so far this year, to the extent that they have had to spend time away from their normal duties, according to the postal service.
It represents almost half the nine total posties injured on the job in Newcastle this year.
The fleet of three-wheeled electronic delivery vehicles (eDV) was rolled out across the Newcastle area last year, starting with a trial at Hamilton.
A Hunter postal worker, who asked not to be identified, said drivers experienced problems with the scooters in wet conditions and some started reversing with no warning. The postie labelled the vehicles “death traps”.
He blamed recent instances of missed mail runs – which affected thousands of homes and businesses in August and again this month – on the new vehicles.
The worker said the high number of people unable to perform their normal duties because of incidents with the eDVs had contributed to a shortfall in staff.
But Australia Post’s safety, wellbeing and injury management group executive Peter Bass said there had been “overwhelmingly positive feedback” from posties who used one of the 100 eDVs in the Newcastle area.
“Three posties are injured on our roads [nationally] every work day and we’re focussed on doing everything in our power to change this, including replacing motorcycles with the safer three-wheeled electric delivery vehicles where it makes sense to do so,” he said.
“We’ve worked closely with the vehicle manufacturer to modify and improve the vehicles based on postie feedback, building in additional safety features, carrying capacity and stability that these vehicles offer over motorcycles.”
Read more: Missed mail runs across Newcastle area
Mr Bass said three of Newcastle area posties injuries occurred during incidents involving distracted motorists or loose asphalt.
“One injury is one too many, so we are asking drivers to slow down and remove distractions,” he said.
The Herald reported last week that Australia Post a “higher than normal” rate of sick leave for thousands of missed deliveries across Mayfield, Hamilton, Islington, Merewether Heights, Wallsend, Lambton and Fletcher on August 20.