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HSE responds to Daily Mail - "I've heard of living in a box..."

15 June 2010

Dear Sir,

Re: Richard Littlejohn "I've heard of living in a box. But living in a wheelie bin is plain daft." - 15 June 2010

I am disappointed that Mr Littlejohn misrepresents the scope of the guidance that has been issued to help reduce the likelihood of people being crushed horrifically after seeking shelter in bins.

The guidance was drawn up in direct response to requests from the waste management and recycling industry following three deaths in the last year alone. It is not new law as your article suggests, but simply a guide to help businesses comply with current law.

The guidance clearly applies to commercial waste bins and communal domestic bins only - not household wheelie bins. We do not expect refuse collectors "to poke around in the contents of every bin on the off-chance that they might find a drunk taking a nap". This would be neither proportionate nor sensible.

The guidance also outlines simple measures those who produce waste, such as shops and restaurants, can implement to discourage people from entering bins in the first place.

HSE fully appreciates that vulnerable people will not be reading Materials Recycling Week and that is why we are also working to make homeless charities and organisations aware of the issue so they can help warn the people they work with.

Yours faithfully

Geoffrey Podger
Chief Executive, Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-01-13