A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report has called for better training of waste collection crews to reflect the hazardous nature of the industry.
The report found that training for crew supervisers and drivers tended to focus on technical knowledge and skills rather than the attitudes and behaviours that underpin them.
It said that developing communications and leadership skills appeared of secondary importance, and there was little evidence that training took into account the crews’ complex working environment.
Household (municipal) and commercial collection and sorting activities account for up to 80% of reported accidents within the industry, according to the report. There is general agreement across industry that household collection activities are particularly hazardous, it says.
The HSE conducted five site visits, 25 interviews and small focus groups as part of its research.
It also looked at 105 documents relevant to competence and training such as job descriptions, induction checklists and training materials supplied by 12 organisations.
The report’s findings were then tested at a workshop to gather industry opinion and perspectives on developing superviser and team leader competencies.
The findings also suggest that it was often the driver who passed health and safety messages between the crew and supervisers but the responsibility was not always formally recognised, and the driver’s role in promoting good working practices seemed to be underestimated.
This lack of clarity about the driver’s role on the road resulted in some feeling that they could not discipline crew members for health and safety violations.
The research is intended to provide Waste Industries Safety and Health with a starting point to take forward improvements in the training of supervisors and drivers.