VIDEO REPORT: The Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has released the ninth version of its information document for managing coronavirus risks for waste management activities.
According to the WISH Forum, the latest guidance is a “routine maintenance” update that doesn’t contain any significant changes of approach.
It added that the latest guidance tries to include additional experience gained with the management controls since the August version, new scientific understanding of the virus and its transmission routes since that time, and to update the plethora of links that it contains to relevant additional guidance and help.
The ninth version of the guidance included updates to all links and references, as well as the introduction of additional ones.
The guidance reiterates that good hygiene is the “most important” tool for preventing any infection.
A newly introduced paragraph explains that this is especially important because as the pandemic has progressed over time “there may have been a temptation to concentrate on other measures, such as screens and face-coverings”.
A further change relates to face coverings, and says waste personnel who have to enter internal spaces where face-coverings have been mandated “must obey the law” by wearing one.
“If practical and safe, consideration may be given to changing the collection methodology so that entry is not required,” the guidance added.
Further changes to the document clarifications on the use and effectiveness of face shields/visors.
The guidance says that while the use of a transparent plastic or similar face shield/visor has become popular for some people, the evidence is that they provide little protection and should not be used on their own.
There is also further clarifications on vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable persons.
It says that employers should protect all of their employees, vulnerable or not, the precautions which may need to be put in place are typically the same, and strict adherence by employees to controls should be the same no matter their status.
In particular, employers should note any requirement for clinically extremely vulnerable persons to ‘shield’ (self-isolate) in specific circumstances, such as in England dependent on the ‘tier’ they live in, or if a lockdown is in effect, or if they have been contacted and instructed to shield.
Chris Jones, chair of the WISH Forum, said he has often been asked if the guidance will be updated given the latest lockdown restrictions introduced.
“Given that there were no reported ‘outbreaks’ of COVID19 in waste operations in 2020 we believe that principles developed for the first lockdownhave been successful”
He said work on the update to v9 started before Christmas and “long before the current lockdown was announced”, adding the “we have always said that we will keep INFO13 under review and will update it as new knowledge and experience becomes available. This remains the case”.
He added: “Given that there were no reported ‘outbreaks’ of COVID19 in waste operations in 2020 we believe that the principles that were developed for the first lockdown, that have been successful, and that have been then further developed and improved in the intervening time, should be just as applicable to the current lockdown.”