Covid-19 infection among waste handlers

A waste centre has been blasted for a catalogue of Covid failures after a binman based there died of the virus. Mr Scott Hunter, 52, died last month after an 18-day battle at the intensive care unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

Days later the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the Crieff Recycling Centre, North Forr, and found a catalogue of failings.

Three confirmed Covid-19 case at the depot, including Scott, were not reported, so that close contacts could be traced.

The HSE also found faults with cleaning procedures, training staff to combat Covid, provision of hand gel, and social distancing in bin lorries.

Widow Fiona said: “I have a cleaning company, and I had to buy him hundreds of pounds worth of cleaning stuff. He used to take that with him in his lorry. He just wanted to stay as safe as he could.”

Scott was one of three employees at the North Forr Centre in Crieff who were struck with the virus at the beginning of the year.

Just days after his death, Mr Hunter’s workplace was visited by a senior Health and Safety Executive officer as part of an investigation into concerns about Covid-19 controls, understood to have been raised by a staff member.

HM Inspector of Health and Safety Michelle Gillies has noted a long list of “contraventions of health and safety law” and has ordered Perth and Kinross Council to take immediate action.

In her letter, Ms Gillies notes the three confirmed Covid-19 cases were not reported to the council’s corporate health, safety and wellbeing team so close contacts could be traced.

Despite the cases being reported to management at the site, there was no deep cleaning of shared work vehicles, site buildings or areas of the yard.

The shared lorries continued to be used by staff, said Ms Gillies.

She added: “It was also identified that there was no additional cleaning and disinfection of the site offices and welfare facilities conducted after the first positive case was reported to site management, despite it being known that the infected employees had entered and used these facilities shortly before testing positive.”

I hate to say it, by this sad case of management apparent cost-cutting and indifference to the most obvious Covid-19 precautions highlights a catalogue of deficiencies that should be managed properly, right first time, by the employer. No excuses!

We must hope that HSE take appropriate action and put this before the Court.

Please see also:

Government needs to urgently vaccinate waste operatives says waste management company | Blenkharn Environmental

Staff absence forces company to make alternative arrangements for clinical waste collections from vaccination centres

Two hospital porters die of Covid-19 infection


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