Environmental topic: Moving health and safety forward in municipal waste collection – Meeting report

7 December 2015


The Yorkshire branch held its regular environmental meeting on 19 November, supported by the IOSH Environmental and Waste Management Group (EWMG). The theme for this meeting was “Methods to improve management standards in the waste sector”.

The EWMG have been a leading voice involved with raising health and safety standards in the waste sector and our first speaker, Dave Thomas, is an IOSH Vice President and has been working with IOSH and the EWMG for the past few years to developing a training package designed to improve the health and safety competence of waste collection managers and supervisors so that they and their crews can operate safely.

dave thomson
Dave Thomson: IOSH Vice President and Environmental and Waste Management Group

Our second speaker, John Harton, a member of the Yorkshire Branch executive committee and an employee of Leeds City Council, delivered a hands-on management approach to dealing with issues relating to waste collection in the Leeds City Council area.

Meeting Summary

David Thomas’ presentation covered the creation of a bespoke Waste Industry training programme for managers and supervisors. He discussed the low level of health and safety competence in the waste industry and the fact that there wasn’t an IOSH Managing Safely course for the waste industry, so he began to develop one. He said that there was a real need to improve the competence of waste collection managers and supervisors and he discussed what was needed:

  • Something that can respond to changing industry guidance and engagement

  • A mature understanding of different risk assessment methods

  • Something that can be used to develop Safe Systems Of Work

  • Something that reflects the specific challenges of the waste industry

He looked at the IOSH Managing Safely Course modules 1 through to 8, discussed the course content and explained what changes could be made to ensure that the modules would fit the waste sector requirements. There were several barriers to overcome: the course name could not be “Managing Safely” for example, so there was a need for a unique name. Some of the support material was copyrighted and some Local Authorities were unsupportive to his efforts, asking “why are you doing this?”

The presentation is available on podbean via the Yorkshire branch web-site.

John Harton: Waste in time

John gave an outline of the waste collection service in Leeds: Where we were and where we are today (including improvements made along the way; the way forward for the service (including the involvement of the various stakeholder groups); and sharing of information and good practices.

john harton
John Harton: Members liaison officer IOSH EWMG and Committee member IOSH Yorkshire branch

John talked about Leeds, a diverse multi-cultural city with a large urban city centre surrounded by a number of market towns and rural areas. He set the scene by describing:

  • 340,000 households across the city have a black wheeled bin or bags (residual waste).
  • Over 330,000 households have a green wheeled bin or bag (dry recyclable waste).
  • 200,000 have a brown wheeled bin (garden waste).
  • 11,000 have a weekly collection of food waste.
  • 500,000 waste collections are carried out each week.
  • 350,000 tonnes of waste each year
  • 8 household waste sorting sites

He talked about workplace cultural issues and obstacles while managing individuals;

  • A strong macho image mainly due to a predominantly male environment - I can lift anything and do anything. He said that this false image needed to be broken with reality.
  • A strong minded work force - we have always done it this way, what do you know?
  • Task and finish, or job and knock (familiar to those in the building industry) is a nightmare for health and safety (start the round a different way) .
  • Direct management and supervision was difficult due to areas covered.
  • The heavy use of agency staff creates its own health and safety problems (i.e. correct training)
  • A strong union presence and involvement at all levels. However, working together and developing buy-in from unions and staff pays dividends.

Podbean - Presentation

The Yorkshire Branch arranges its branch meetings in order to provide opportunities for members to meet, network with other members, ask questions and to attend informative presentations for free.

For those members who are unable to attend the meetings, or wish to re-visit presentations on particular subjects, with the speaker’s permission we record the presentations and convert these to Podcasts.

IOSH: Log on to IOSH main website using your log in details.
Yorkshire Branch: Select your branch.
Members Only: Chose this tab
Podcast Library Access: Follow the instruction on this page to access podbean. There you will find the latest podbean and many others form previous Yorkshire branch meetings.