2 April 2020 by Joshua Doherty

WISH issues finalised waste and COVID-19 document

The UK’s Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) has finalised and published its advice document about managing COVID-19 risks for waste management activities.  

WISH has finalised its advice document about managing COVID-19 risks for waste management activities

The final document, which can be seen here (as a PDF) was released on 2 April 2020 after  a draft was published last Friday, March 27. It is available on the WISH Forum website.

Chris Jones, chair of WISH, says the draft “provoked considerable interest” and it had over 50 replies within 72 hours of it going out, and added that the final document remains “under constant review”.  And, he thanked all those involved in helping to put the document together so swiftly.

The document has been compiled with input from a number of agencies including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Public Health England (PHE), but will sit alongside separate advice the two bodies have issued.  

The advice includes activities linked to vehicles and collections operations, bulky waste collections, mobile plant, landfills, MBT and transfer stations, MRFs and recycling plants, HWRC sites and weighbridges.

Social distancing 

The document outlined that the two main ways of slowing the spread of the virus is through social distancing and good hygiene measures, such as washing your hands.  

However, it noted that obeying 2-metre social distancing may be not be reasonably practicable” for personnel who work together in the cabs of some waste collection vehicles

“As an essential service it is important waste collection operations continues”


“However, as an essential service it is important waste collection operations continues,” the document added.  

WISH said in the document that what it is reasonably practicable will depend on the specific circumstances of each collection methodology and type and each collection area.  

Measures to take

And, when deciding upon the measures to take, consideration should be given to the following 

  • Can the waste collection be suspended temporarily, or reduced? For commercial and industrial waste collections many customers may be closed for business or running at reduced capacity – collections from such customers could be suspended, or the frequency of collection reduced. 
  •  For household collections it may be worth considering suspending some types of collection, such as green waste and bulky waste collections  
  • If reasonably practicable, use single-person operation. For many commercial and industrial waste collections this is already the case, and for others twin-person operation may be able to be reduced to single-person, provided that safety standards are not compromised 
  •  Other than in limited cases, for household collections single person collection operation is very unlikely to be reasonably practicable or safe 


WISH says that all cabs should have alcohol or soap-based cleansing and/or wipes available for all surfaces which should be cleaned periodically throughout the day and especially at the end of each shift.  

Cleaning should pay particular attention to doorhandles, hand holds/rails, dashboards, steering wheels, hand-brake levers, gearbox and other controls and indicator stalks.  

FOR MORE LINKS AND INFORMATION, SEE letsrecycle.com/coronavirus


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