COVID-19 | Government issues social distancing guidance for waste businesses

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has issued new guidance on social distancing for waste management businesses.

The guidance recognises that waste management is an important service for other businesses, public services and households, and that it can continue if “done in accordance with the social distancing guidelines wherever possible”.

This also applies to waste site operators where staff cannot be more than two metres apart at all times, it states.

The guidance states: “You should advise staff to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds more frequently than usual. Staff should also wash their hands each time before getting into enclosed machinery (such as fork lift trucks or crane grabbers), and wash their hands for 20 seconds or more, or use hand sanitiser when they cannot wash their hands, every time they get out.

“To help with this, you should consider adding additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities, providing soap, water and hand sanitiser.

“On waste sorting and picking lines staff should observe the same rules as for Manufacturing. You should allow frequent cleaning and disinfecting of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using standard cleaning products, particularly at the end and beginning of shifts.”

Refuse collections

When staff are sharing an enclosed space, such as in refuse and waste collection vehicle cabs and are unable to maintain a two metre distance, they should wash their hands for 20 seconds or longer before getting into, or after getting out of, the vehicle, or use hand sanitiser where hand washing is not possible, the guidance states.

Where it is not possible to avoid having more than one person in the vehicle, teams should keep the windows of the vehicle open for ventilation, and be careful to avoid touching their face at all times.

Staff should still be advised to keep two metres apart as much as possible.

The guidance also points to recent health and safety information published by the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH).

Further advice can be found here relating to COVID-19 and the waste management industry.

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