New Zealand does not have industry-specific health and safety guidelines covering the kerbside collection of domestic waste or recycling. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that during the preparation of tender documents and evaluation of tenders, emphasis be given to health and safety. This includes providing for health and safety measures in the proposed management of services, collection methodology and plant configuration.
Guidance for developing health and safety measures in the industry can be found in the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) 2001 publication, Code of Practice for Manual Handling:
The Code is considered to be current best practice, and introduces assessment tools for identifying, evaluating and controlling manual handling hazards to reduce risk of injury through manual handling tasks.
WasteMINZ has developed safety guidelines for operating rear-loading compaction collection vehicles to improve employee safety, and intends to continue researching health and safety issues through its Industry Safety Group. There are a number of hazards for runners undertaking manual collection, including sharps, biological contaminants, strains and sprains, and vehicle-related accidents.
WasteMINZ, Operation of Rear Loading Compaction Trucks Safety Requirements: New Zealand Guidelines for Waste and Recoverable Resource Collection, Processing and Disposal, 2002:
Dearsly G, Research Paper: The Cost of Manual Handling Injuries in the NZ Waste Industry. Paper presented at the WasteMINZ Conference, October 2005.
Another relevant code of practice is the Transit New Zealand Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Management. This code contains specific requirements that apply to the use of mobile operations, including vehicle signage and safety clothing specifications. The definition of mobile operation has rubbish collection specifically listed:
http://www.transit.govt.nz/technical/copttm.jsp [Link updated on 21 January 2010 to http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/code-temp-traffic-management/]
In Australia, mechanical collection using mobile recycling bins and mobile garbage bags is coming to be seen as best practice for the collection of domestic waste and recycling to eliminate manual handling and reduce associated risks to employees. When deciding on the best collection method it is important to consider the effect it may have on the quality of the collected material and the flow-on effect of this on the value of the material to markets. EcoRecycle Victoria’s Guide to Preferred Standards for Kerbside Recycling in Victoria includes OSH risk assessment for manual kerbside collection and identifies the main hazards involved. Further detail from other publications can be obtained by accessing the following reference sites.
EcoRecycle Victoria, Guide to Preferred Standards for Kerbside Recycling in Victoria, 2004. http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/PSS_final_doc_sept.pdf
Worksafe Victoria, Non-Hazardous Waste and Recyclable Materials: Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for the Collection, Transport and Unloading of Non-Hazardous Waste and Recyclable Materials, 2003.
WorkCover NSW, Code of Practice for the Collection of Domestic Waste, 2004.
In New Zealand’s smaller rural districts the collection of domestic waste and recycling is often done through refuse transfer stations. Health and safety issues at these facilities vary from those associated with kerbside collection systems and need to take account of:
The Guidelines for the Provision of Facilities and General Safety and Health in Commercial and Industrial Premises (1995) gives assistance on what is required at refuse transfer stations: http://www.osh. govt.nz
Sections 15 and 16 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 set out the legal obligations of councils, contractors and their employees to members of the public. Councils and contractors need to put in place an OSH plan to meet these obligations and a robust system that audits compliance. The audit system should be agreed before contract begins and monitored to ensure it is taking place.
AS/NZS 4360:2004 Risk Management and The Guidelines to AS-NZS 4360 (2004), which is a companion guide to 4360 containing explanatory information and examples, outline risk assessment that may be used for waste management services and contracts.
While the standard and companion guide provide generic guidance for the effective management of all forms of risk, more detailed guidance may be required in specific areas. Of relevance to the waste management industry is a handbook based on AS/NZS 4360: Environmental Risk Management: Principles and Processes (SAA HB 203).
Residents need to be kept informed of recycling practice before and during the term of recycling contracts. The aim is to maximise the yield and minimise the contamination of recyclables. Contracts usually provide for the production and distribution of documents about waste minimisation, litter issues and the benefits of recycling. Information on an increase in collected materials (eg, a move to collect all plastic types) and the impacts of new materials in the market (eg, degradable plastics) should also be communicated to users of the service.
The provision of educational facilities, such as viewing areas designed for schools and other groups to observe processing at material recovery, is an effective education tool.
The following link has examples of good practice documentation for recycling education and communication: http://www.packaging.org.nz
Responsibility for the delivery of education programmes is best undertaken by councils, although these functions may be contracted by the council to specialist education and promotional providers. Bear in mind that education is not the core business of collection contractors, and as such is often not delivered as effectively as by other organisations. However, the contractor can assist with the production and distribution of informational leaflets, stickers and notification of services.
Conversely, community groups argue that they have the networks, contacts and low-cost structures for achieving maximum community involvement from council education and promotion. There is also a further argument that councils’ regulatory role is a limit on their effectiveness in the area of education and promotion.
Financial provision for promotion and education can be made in the contract price schedule as a provisional sum to be expended on the instruction of the council. The contractor may not necessarily be called upon to provide these services. This will ensure that there is funding available for education and promotion for the duration of the contract, and that this is not ‘removed’ during the council’s annual budgeting process.
The allocation of sufficient funding for education and promotion programmes is essential if waste reduction targets are to be achieved.
Often advertising, education and promotion of recycling services reaches beyond its target area. This can confuse the residents of adjacent areas that have different recycling procedures. Simplicity, consistency and predictability are expected by residents and visitors to an area for them to support recycling services. Education and promotion should follow the principle of providing clear information that explains simple, essential and convenient tasks. It should also be sustained and aimed at achieving community involvement and buy-in.
Councils may use bylaws to regulate collectors and facility operators through licensing to ensure contractor quality standards and street amenity are maintained, and waste stream information is provided.