Thursday, 5 December 2013

Bury Council sends out mixed messages

BURY Council tell the public not to overfill their bins so that the lids are ajar, but at the same time they urge their refuse collectors to empty bins with raised bin lids.  A couple of years ago a manager over the Bradley Fold Waste Depot, Neil Long, had foremen take photos of wheelie bins with raised bin lids that had been left uncollected, and then spent an afternoon interrogating a binman as to why he hadn't emptied them.  Bury Council has a history of filming its staff while performing their duties, and some years ago this led to an expensive and embarrassing case in which Bury MBC became a public laughing stock after filming three of their staff with a bottle of strawberry volvic, and claiming that they had taken it as a bribe for emptying some trade waste as a favour.  

The bin lid issue is a tricky one and some local councils have a clear policy of refusing to empty bins with raised lids.  In 2011, the Swindon Advertiser reported on a case in which a bin man, Ron Moody aged 52, had been crushed to death owing to a bin being overfilled with waste.  At that time Scott D'Arcy in the Swindon Advertiser reported:
'Dad-of-one Mr Moody, known as ‘Chipper’ to his friends, from Malmesbury, died immediately after the incident on February 18 last year after suffering massive chest injuries including 34 rib fractures. After a jury of seven men and five women recorded an accidental death verdict, the assistant deputy Gloucestershire coroner Tom Osbourne issued a plea to people not to overload bins because of the danger they pose. '

Most people who don't have to contend with the mechanisms of lifting and handling gear on waggons probably think it doesn't matter if a bin has a lid raised an inch or so.  The Gloucestershire coroner in the Mr. Moody case disagreed saying:

'When bins were over full, the machinery on dustcarts could not be operated safely.  Over full bins cause a definite risk to refuse workers.  If, as a result of Mr Moody’s death, people learn that it might be dangerous to put too much in them, there could be a positive outcome to this tragedy.'
A spokesman for Swindon Council also challenged the view that it didn't matter if lids are ajar:
'The bin lifts on the back of refuse vehicles can pose a serious hazard if they are not used correctly, which is why all of our refuse collectors are trained, and given refresher training, in the use of this equipment.  It’s one of the reasons why councils ask residents to make sure the wheelie bin isn’t so full that the lid can’t be fully closed.  Some people think we’re just being awkward when we insist on this, but it’s because it minimises the risk of a horrible accident like this happening.'

Despite these warnings some councils like Bury MBC still send out mixed messages telling the public one thing and their own staff another.  For this reason the union Unite at Bury's Bradley Fold Waste Management Depot are urging Bury MBC to have a clear policy not emptying bins with raised bin lids.

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