Biffa DROPs campaign raising awareness of reckless driving around RCVs

Waste management company Biffa has launched the DROPs campaign – ‘Driving Recklessly on Pavements’ —to raise awareness of the dangers of driving on pavements, after observing a increasing number of drivers mounting curbs to get past waste collection vehicles.

Biffa handles around 10 per cent of household waste collections in the UK and says that its household waste collection teams are reporting around 3,000 incidents of reckless driving per month.

CCTV footage collected by Biffa of reckless driving shows numerous incidents of careless drivers mounting pavements and driving into or nearly missing waste workers in order to dodge their trucks parked in the road.

Biffa said that whilst many dangerous driving incidents may go unreported, the number of incidents is ‘a serious concern for both waste operatives and members of the public.’

In addition to collaboration with the police, Biffa have issued clearer hi-vis marking and resident awareness campaigns and fitted their trucks with 360-degree cameras to record incidents of dangerous driving to aid the police in prosecution.

A new prosecution system was introduced by Biffa and Staffordshire Police Force in 2015, following an increased number of incidents where refuse collectors are almost hit by vehicles. Incidents were reported to police via the new, fast-tracked system and action was taken against drivers.

The system has shown an increase in holding drivers to account, with a third of reported incidents of reckless driving by Biffa staff leading to the prosecution of drivers. Before the issue was recognised, police figures show that only six per cent of reports of dangerous driving were investigated, with even less leading to prosecution.

 Issue ‘far, far greater’ than industry imagines

Dangerous drivers have been causing a major safety risk nationwide; just one of Britain’s 43 police constabularies (Staffordshire Constabulary) processed 315 incidents of pedestrian injury or fatality on streets and pavements in 2015.

Lawrence Emerson, Biffa’s Head of Health and Safety, said: “The issue is far, far greater than the industry, or the public, could ever possibly imagine. When I went out with our crews on their collections, I could not believe what I was seeing and the danger the crews were facing every day due to reckless drivers.”

Emerson said that the careless behaviour of drivers had been accepted by the staff as ‘part of the job’: “Until recently, they rarely reported such incidents to their managers, let alone the police.”

Karen McDonnell, Safety Adviser at the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), added: “Driving on the footway (or pavement) is an offence under section 72 of the Highways Act 1835 and is also prohibited by rule 145 of the Highway Code.

“The proactive approach taken by Biffa to tackle this issue is to be commended. RoSPA would encourage Biffa to share the learning from this initiative with the wider world of work.”

Waste sector ‘one of the most dangerous in the UK’

Injuries and deaths in the waste sector are not uncommon, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s regulator for workplace health and safety, has previously branded the industry as ‘one of the most dangerous’ sectors to work in.

The HSE released annual data of fatal accidents occurring in the work place in key industrial sectors during 2015/16. Six people were fatally injured in waste and recycling industries during this time, meaning the sector has one of the highest rates of worker fatalities in Great Britain.

This rate is much greater than those of the construction and manufacturing sectors, which have rates of 1.62 and 0.55 respectively. Only the agricultural sector had a higher rate with 9.12 deaths per 100,000 people.

However, the rate of work-related deaths in Britain has reduced by over 50 per cent in the last two decades, and is now amongst the lowest rates in Europe.

Four deaths were reported involving collisions with waste vehicles in April, only one of which involved the HSE. These included two incidents where a pedestrian was hit by a refuse vehicle, one in which a car collided with a refuse vehicle and one involving a member of a bin crew being hit by his own vehicle.

The full 2015/16 HSE report can be viewed on the HSE website.

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