A Day Out With The Bin Men

Why?

Council recently decided to create a Health and Safety (H&S) Champion and I was elected to this role as I am chair of one of the committees. It’s the Managing Director’s responsibility to create a safe working culture but it is the role of the H&S Champion to make sure that from a political leadership point of view that things are being taken seriously by officers, that sufficient resources are being deployed and to provide an ultimate backstop for whistle blowers that have exhausted the normal avenues for raising H&S issues through the management structures. I understand that the bin emptying service is probably the most dangerous job that we ask our staff to do so I decided to spend most of a day to find out what they do and to get a first-hand experience.

What did I learn?

It’s a physically demanding job requiring the men (yep, they were all men) to walk around 15 miles per day, jumping in and out of a cab, and pulling various sized bins to the hydraulic lift at the back of the lorry. Some of the bins are quite light but others probably weigh something like 50Kg. When it is hot it’s very tiring with the physical nature of the work. It’s also not as easy as you might think. You have to be mentally alert to make sure that you are safe on the road whilst being surrounded by traffic, be aware of which bins have been done, being careful to not miss anyone’s bin, put the right bin back to each home owner, take into account any home owners that have a special needs all whilst having to contend with probably around 5 or more different bin designs. For complicated reasons too difficult to expand on here I found that the variation in bin designs and a few partially broken bins added to the workload. I’ve spotted a few things we can improve and of course will follow this up with a written report to officers.

When I became a councillor I never thought it would lead me to an opportunity to learn about how we empty the bins. My team for the day Leigh, Steve and Chris were very friendly and I loved their team spirit and good humour – many thanks to them for supporting me being part of their team.

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