Many incidents of physical abuse against waste sector employees by members of the public go unreported, according to a recycling firm.
Latest figures from the Local Government Association showed the number of reported physical assaults on waste sector employees increased to 245 in 2014, according to LondonWaste managing director Peter Sharpe.
But he said the real number was at least double that, according to what his own staff has told him.
“The reality is that they accept abuse as part of the job and often don’t report it. We must all work together in the sector and with the public to stop this happening,” he said.
Sharpe suggested that a PR boost for the industry could be useful to counteract the criticism it often faces in the national tabloids.
Social media, he said, was an “easy and cost effective” tool the industry should use to showcase its work and get the public on side.
“The work done by the waste sector is essential to the public’s and business’ daily lives. Waste is produced on a daily basis and there would be huge social and economic impacts if we weren’t doing such a great job.
“The more we showcase our work via our websites, video and sites like Twitter, the more people will understand what we do and the challenges the industry faces.”
He compared the public compassion for junior doctors’ exhaustive working arrangements to waste management employees, who work similar hours.
“Most UK residents probably have no idea that of the 140,000 people employed in waste, tens of thousands will be shift workers, covering 12-hour shifts that can include weekends, bank holidays and even Christmas Day to keep the cycle moving,” he said.
- An extended column from Sharpe will be in the 27 February edition of MRW.