Not only rough sleepers end up as bodies in bins

With the Christmas break seeming to go faster every year, Happy New Year seems so stale already! For some families, it’s not such a Happy New Year….from rough sleepers to club-goers and party revelers, now seeking shelter in bins, it makes that drunken night out potentially their last.

A Senior Coroner for the City of Sunderland released a report regarding the investigation into the death of an individual who had been sleeping in a bin in 2018. The Coroner called for the waste industry to raise awareness nationally of the issue and highlight risks associated with sleeping in bins, especially during colder months.

Further investigation has discovered that the individual may have been on the way home from a night out on the town (Something that I’m sure we are all familiar with) but found a nice, quiet, secluded area in which to rest weary eyes! I’ve been told that a recycling bin does act as a good insulator on a cold night!

I had a telephone conference before Christmas with a number of organisations to look at suggestions and ideas on improving standards of the way waste is presented by waste producers for collection. Discussion on WISH WASTE25 guidance concluded that the guidance was still relevant.

If necessary, the HSE could prosecute a waste collection contractor under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Whilst the waste collection contractor has a level of responsibility here, interestingly, the waste producer could also be prosecuted under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 if they fail to keep bins locked, secured and in well-lit areas.

BIFFA records the number of incidents where people have been found in bins before collection. I found it quite surprising that the number does not particularly increase during colder months but in fact happens throughout the year.

IOSH have developed some images and cartoons for best practice when it comes to bin management and BIFFA issue guidance documents and posters to commercial waste customers advising them on how to secure their bins between collections.

Whilst we all have a role to play in any future campaign to crack down on sleeping in bins, I’m sure many will agree that the responsibility does not sit with just the waste producer or the waste collector. So how do we resolve this issue? Do we supply crews with 1000 different bin keys? Do we supply head torches for collections during hours of darkness? My personal favourites would be bin alarm systems and eventually X-ray specs!