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Unsafe work times reason for mixed garbage collection

Canterbury-Bankstown council has come under fire after residents recorded garbage workers collecting recycling and general rubbish and putting it in the same rubbish truck. This has sparked outrage from residents in the Earlwood area.

But the waste industry says there’s a simple reason it happens, with a simple solution and that residents and councils are partly to blame.

“The issue has been caused by local governments mandating unsafe work times,” Tony Khoury, executive director of the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association (WCRA) of NSW, told Inside Waste. “And the reason they mandate unsafe work times is because they get trivial noise complaints from residents who don’t want collections to take place when it’s safest. The safest and most productive times for these difficult collections is generally in the range of 2am to 6am”.

Khoury said in many places “they don’t allow collections to start until after 7am”.

“That’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Children are going to school, people trying to commute to work and to appointments. It becomes a real safety issue for the driver, the runner behind the truck and the members of the public.”

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour said the collections were only happening in residences where trucks found it hard to reach collections points and that these mixed collections had been happening for more than a decade even though

Yet, other councils areas that have narrow streets said they did not have the same problem with truck size.

The following are the key considerations that need to be addressed in all garbage management collection activities, according to Khoury.

  • Safety of workers and the general public
  • Site (or sites) from where waste and/or recycling will be collected
  • Time of day
  • The weather
  • Distance to tipping facilities
  • Chain of responsibility regulations, in particular managing the fatigue of the driver
  • Sustainable recycling, resource recovery and waste management outcomes
  • Cost
  • Productivity
  • Equipment to be used (trucks, bins)
  • Noise from waste types & equipment
  • Induction, training & supervision

Councils that mandate collection start times, generally do not address all of these issues.

It is the view of WCRA, that all stakeholders should be consulted in the preparation of a proper risk assessment that addresses all of the above issues.

The WCRA has begun the process of having Safe Work NSW update the Code of Practice for the Collection of Domestic Waste.