The traditional gauntlet that the postie runs when having to enter a garden being patrolled by a less than friendly pooch may seem far removed from the latest technology in the world. However, forward thinking management at the Royal Mail have clearly had the vision to see that even the most traditional of problems might benefit from modern-day tech. The postal service is turning to a VR-powered ‘dog awareness’ course in an attempt to combat their delivery personnel’s long running troubles with over-zealous guard dogs.
While the postie being chased over the garden fence by Fido may be often made light of through numerous comic depictions over the years, it is a serious problem. Over the year to May, the Royal Mail says that its postal delivery staff suffered an average of 44 attacks a week. Some of those unfortunately left its posties with “permanent and life-changing” injuries. As such, training that helps to minimise future incidents is clearly key.
Dog owners of course also have to take responsibility and make sure potentially aggressive animals are not left to freely roam gardens those making deliveries may have to access. However, posties learning how to better handle incidents with dogs when they do occur can help to dramatically reduce negative fall-out.
VR headsets that place posties into the kind of situations involving aggressive dogs they could face while going about their deliveries will be used in the ‘dog awareness’ training due to be trialled in September. One part of the training involves trainees observing a scene where a postwoman encounters a dog displaying aggression. They have to instruct her how to behave, with the correct advice leading her to escape unscathed and the wrong course of action potentially concluding in her being bitten.
A more dramatic VR training deals with a situation that has already escalated and requires the postie to engage in self-defence procedures such as using the postbag as a shield to block a dog’s aggressive lunge.
The Royal Mail’s safety director Dr Shaun Davis believes that using the latest technology in the world of VR-based training simulations could markedly improve safety for the company’s posties, commenting:
“I’ve dealt with postmen and women who have had amputations for fingers bitten off through letterboxes and other life-changing injuries. I think this will make a big difference.”
Let’s hope so. While the nature of the post we receive has changed significantly as email and digital notifications has reduced the number of letters and bills we receive through the mail, the increasing popularity of online shopping means we receive more packages than ever before. And nobody wants their poor postie to be bitten while dropping off a new pair of Converse!