Business

Safety fears see bodycams introduced at London recycling centres

Waste management company LondonWaste has announced that it is to introduce bodycam technology for all staff at its reuse and recycling centres (RRCs) following a spate of incidents of aggression against its employees.

Safety fears see bodycams introduced at London recycling centres
The regrettable move has been deemed necessary by the North London waste company, which is wholly owned by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and manages all household waste across seven North London boroughs, following a number of reported incidents of public misbehavior at the company’s RRCs, one of which led to a LondonWaste employee being assaulted.

The bodycams have been installed to allow LondonWaste to cover every area of its sites, with the CCTV systems used on their sites having restricted coverage in some areas.

The small cameras are now worn by 30 LondonWaste employees, strapped to their uniforms in a way that does not restrict movement but makes clear that the device is a camera, a feature that LondonWaste hopes will act as a deterrent in and of itself. All images and video recorded will be deleted after 30 days, although certain footage will be used for training purposes.

Commenting on the move, LondonWaste’s Managing Director, Peter Sharpe, said: “Here at LondonWaste, the safety of all our employees is paramount. While the vast majority of the public using our RRCs behave in a respectful manner and appreciate that the employees are there to help, a small minority has over-stepped the mark.

“In order for the site to operate effectively and for the community to be served efficiently, our employees must feel safe at all times. The introduction of bodycams is completely aligned with our company-wide ‘Start Safely’ campaign.”

Increased risk to waste workers

This is not the first case of a waste management company deciding to introduce portable surveillance equipment for the safety of its staff. In March 2017, waste services firm Amey announced two new pilot schemes designed to improve employee well-being and safety, including equipping waste teams with body cameras to record abuse from the public.

Unfortunately, measures have to be taken concerning waste operatives’ safety, with Amey reporting that abuse, both verbal and physical, suffered by staff at its household waste recycling centre (HWRC) in Northamptonshire increased by 26 per cent over the course of the year leading up to March 2017.

Abuse is not the only thing that waste operatives have to be wary of, with Biffa last year launching a ‘Driving Recklessly on Pavements’ campaign, highlighting the issue of impatient motorists mounting the pavement to get around waste vehicles, putting staff and pedestrians at risk.

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