Be aware of the homeless

Following many cases of rough sleepers taking refuge in waste bins, or children playing in them, resulting in injury and even death during tipping, the HSE have produced guidance for commercial waste producers.

Typically four-wheeled bins of 660 litres plus capacity are involved in these incidents and employers should carry out a suitable risk assessment, taking into account the likelihood of such an occurrence.

In determining the level of risk and any necessary control measures you should consider the following :

Is the area commonly used by rough sleepers, drug abusers, alcoholics or vagrants?

  • Do children play in the area?
  • Are there known incidents of people sleeping in bins in the area?
  • Is the waste material conducive to rough sleeping, such as cardboard, carpet, textile waste or other dry comfortable waste?
  • Is the bin storage area isolated or poorly lit?
  • Is there easy access to unsecured bins?

If there is a significant risk, then additional controls may need to be put in place, which may include the following:

  • Securing of bins overnight
  • Relocation of the bin storage area
  • A visual check of bins each morning or prior to tipping
  • Banging on the sides of the bins each morning or prior to tipping
  • Warning signs or CCTV are considered insufficient controls

Full guidance can be viewed on the HSE website under the title “People in Commercial Waste Containers”.