Since the pandemic began our priorities have been COVID-19 and protecting our workforce and so it has been difficult to fully focus on our routine work, but slowly we are trying to address important health and safety issues that are not related to covid-19.
Recently as a health and safety service we have been trying to look at moving and handling elements, especially on the moving and handling side of the adult care department and also moving and handling objects in the Highways and Municipal department. Specifically within the Highways and Municipal department we have been looking at the manual handling of recycling collection workers.
There are two different types of Recycling collection vehicles in Gwynedd, the Romaquip which is large and can hold up to 850Kg of plastics and cans and about a tonne of cardboard so workers do not have to empty the Romaquip as often which increases collection effectiveness. The second type of vehicle is a much smaller vehicle used on our country lanes or ‘narrow access vehicles’, these are not as large but are needed to collect everyone’s recycling in Gwynedd.
The problem with both vehicles is that they are high off the floor so workers have to lift heavy weights over their shoulders in order to empty the boxes or food caddies. This raises manual handling and musculoskeletal problems for workers and leads to many days off work with injuries. So in recent weeks I’ve been out with my colleague Gail and Alison, who works closely with the council as a physiotherapist, to look at a few employees emptying the recycling bins on their rounds so that we and Alison got an insight into what happens when working on these vehicles.
We therefore hope to do more work on the vehicles and try to put pressure on the Government to change the designs of these vehicles, and also by pursuing more manual handling training for the workers as we hope we will be able to reduce the number of injuries to our employees.