Scottish cleaners and bin collectors ‘don’t feel safe’

Almost 70 per cent of Scotland’s refuse collectors and street cleaners feel unsafe at work, according to a major trade union.

And they feel unable to consistently practise safe social distancing while going about their jobs.

GMB Scotland ran an online survey into workers’ attitudes during the coronavirus emergency. Of the 70 per cent who said they felt unsafe at work, 73 per cent claimed that householders were approaching them more frequently than usual with collection inquiries.

GMB Scotland organiser Rhea Wolfson urged the public to protect these key workers by adhering to social distancing recommendations. “Put collection queries to your council, not front-line staff,” she said.

Scotland’s largest council said it was urging the public to play its part in keeping refuse collectors and street cleaners safe. “We fully recognise the vital role being undertaken by our cleansing staff and we are doing everything we can to ensure their safety as they go about their work,” said a Glasgow council spokesman.

“We are following the latest waste industry safety guidance and we’re in daily contact with unions on how to best protect staff health and well-being.”

UK-wide guidance issued by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum suggests that local authorities should consider reducing collection frequency and staggering rest breaks to prevent workers from congregating in their depots.

They have also mooted using alternative means of transport for workers to limit the risk of infection when working in cabs. And the guidance adds that where a member of the public neglects to stand away from their bin at the required two metre- distance, their waste should not be collected.

Source: European Journal of Cleaning

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