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Refuse crews pilot hi-vis shorts to improve comfort

Refuse crews from three Cambridgeshire councils have started wearing high-visibility shorts during roadside collections in a new trial to help keep them cool.

Refuse crews from Greater Cambridge Shared Waste. Photo credit: South Cambs DC

Collection teams from Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire District and Huntingdonshire District councils will trial the shorts until October. The roll out took place on 3 June after South Cambridgeshire District Council evaluated the risks of workers wearing shorts while emptying bins, which includes cuts from glass and other sharp items.

Residents have been urged to help with the pilot by making sure glass is kept inside their recycling bins only and not put in additional clear sacks.

The idea is that the improved wellbeing and comfort of staff will help to minimise the risk of accidents.

Last year saw one of the hottest summers on record, with temperatures regularly peaking over 30 degrees. During the summer months, Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District, which are part of Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, and Huntingdonshire District Council, provided crews with water and sunscreen. 

The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service has more than 150 frontline bin collection staff, with each crew emptying up to 1,300 bins during a typical day. Refuse loaders, who can walk the equivalent of almost half a marathon during every shift, requested that they be able to trial wearing shorts.

The pilot’s outcome will be evaluated before any permanent arrangements are discussed or put in place. 

 

Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

Comments

  • Will the study/trial con

    Permalink Submitted by Nic Jones on 4 June 2019 - 03:44 pm

    Will the study/trial consider:
    - 1) less protection against dog bites and insect stings
    - 2) less protection against solar radiation
    - 3) less protection against cuts and stings from brambles and nettles.

    reply
  • When working in an envir

    Permalink Submitted by Robin Dobson on 5 June 2019 - 05:51 am

    When working in an environment that presents the risk of bacterial, bio-logical and cutting / penetrating hazards full body clothing is a risk reduction control. How did the risk assessment for the refuse collectors wearing shorts justify this reduction in protection?

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  • I've approached South Ca

    Permalink Submitted by Nick Warburton on 10 June 2019 - 10:18 am

    I've approached South Cambridgeshire Council, who came back with the following responses:
    Will the study/trial consider:

    1) less protection against dog bites and insect stings
    Yes, the study / trial will consider protection against dog bites and stings. Currently dog attacks and stings are recorded through our accident or hazard system and these will be monitored closely during the trial. Since we have recorded only one dog attack in the last two years prior to the trial, any further risk of wearing shorts is not been seen as an over bearing factor.

    2) less protection against solar radiation
    Yes, solar radiation has been considered within the trial. We supply staff with sunblock for regular application and advise against wearing shorts for colleagues with certain skin types.

    3) less protection against cuts and stings from brambles and nettles.
    Staff on the shorts trial will be collecting bins mainly in an urban / semi-rural environment. The way we ask residents to present bins (on the kerbside / road edge) suggests that risks regarding cuts and stings from brambles and undergrowth will be very low. However, factors such as these will be monitored as part of the trials success or failure.

    When working in an environment that presents the risk of bacterial, bio-logical and cutting / penetrating hazards full body clothing is a risk reduction control. How did the risk assessment for the refuse collectors wearing shorts justify this reduction in protection?
    The overarching factor is this is a trial, as requested by staff, who are entirely free to choose if they want to take part. There are many different collection scenarios within the waste industry and caution should be exercised in declaring any one size fits all application, particularly where proven gains can be made in making PPE appropriate and more comfortable for users.
    For our collectors who collect waste within a 240 / 140 litre wheeled container in a high-density street collection scenario, it's important to conduct a proper structured trial and decide on an outcome that maps out the risks properly and correctly alongside industry standard advice.

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  • There are a number of el

    Permalink Submitted by Andrew Peacock. SHEQ Manager. on 2 July 2019 - 01:02 pm

    There are a number of elements of high risk to wearing shorts in the recycling and refuse collection industry. Firstly "Residents have been urged to help with the pilot by making sure glass is kept inside their recycling bins only and not put in additional clear sacks. " In relation to Risk assessment this is just an ask? and would not be a suitable control measure. And also, certainly in the South East, Shorts are not permitted in Transfer Stations. this would entail the Driver, if he was wearing shorts to change to trousers each visit, to the transfer station.

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