Making it safer for Biffa crews

A Biffa initiative to cut dangerous driving and aggression to its collection crews is backed by Police for wider industry adoption.

A Biffa campaign to tackle a worrying increase in dangerous driving around its collection vehicles and aggression towards its crews has won the support of a major police association. The latest version of the campaign, a partnership between Biffa, Wirral Borough Council and Merseyside Police, features an agreed process and protocol for reporting such incidents to local police. In turn, police have committed to investigating them, making prosecution and punishment more likely.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has welcomed the initiatives, saying it will work with industry bodies such as the Environmental Services Association to roll out this best practice model for consideration by other police forces.

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Over 4000 incidents reported

Biffa’s records for 2011-12 showed that over 40% of around 10,000 near-miss reports of hazards encountered on the job were for dangerous driving or aggressive behaviour by the public. Over 20 Biffa staff were actually hit by vehicles, suffering injuries ranging from broken bones to cuts and bruises.

Biffa’s solution comprised two parts. The first was involving staff in creating slogans or messages for display on the bin curtains at the rear of collection vehicles. These messages would ask the public to be considerate and drive carefully around the vehicle and its crew. Six slogans were selected from over 100 entries submitted by staff, and by the end of 2014, 90% of Biffa’s vehicle fleet will carry the messages. The slogans are fitted to new vehicles as standard, and progressively retro-fitted to older vehicles.

Local partners

The second element was partnering with local council clients and local police to raise local awareness of the issue. This activity focuses on media relations and press briefings, messages on council web sites, and the vehicle slogans. It has attracted a wide range of media coverage, including BBC TV’s The One Show and national newspapers. Five Biffa-serviced councils have participated so far – Arun, Isle of Anglesey, South Staffordshire, Middlesbrough and Wirral – and the mutual campaigns appear to be working.

Biffa’s records for 2012-13 show a 3% reduction in near-miss reports of dangerous driving or aggression, 40% fewer staff have been struck by vehicles (14 v 24), and there are anecdotal reports of more considerate driving and less anger by members of the public. Importantly, staff felt their concerns about these on-the-job dangers were taken seriously by management, and that they were actively involved in finding a solution.

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