Bournemouth is a unitary authority on the south coast of England and is a popular tourist destination. It has a mainly urban population of over 160 000 people. The council has decided to maintain its household waste collection service as an in-house operation.
In 2005 the council had to procure new refuse collection vehicles to replace its existing fleet, which was approaching the end of its useful life.
The type of vehicle required was determined by the authority operating comingled collections rather than a kerbside sort for recyclables. In deciding on the type of vehicle required, council officers identified a number of key safety features they required, to maximise the safety of the vehicle crew. This resulted from a review of the risk assessment of waste collections in the borough.
The required additional safety features included:
Improved visibility of the vehicle including warning beacons, appropriate paint work, reflective markings outlining profile of the vehicle and visible warning signs.
Improved crew mobility within the vehicle, so access and egress could be made easily from the nearside. This avoids the need for the driver to exit the vehicle into live traffic lanes.
Two CCTV systems have been provided – one for the driver to aid reversing operations, and one permanently recording to a hard drive for use in crew/public behaviour monitoring. The information recorded on this system has already been used in a successful prosecution of a member of the public for driving offences affecting the crew.
Providing seatbelts for all crew members as well as the driver.
Reversing radar to assist in reversing operations.
Training by the vehicle manufacturer in the safe operation of the vehicle, including training of in-house trainers and factory-based training for vehicle maintenance staff.
The vehicles were also fitted with a driver/crew intercom system to allow for more effective communications, a GPS system which has assisted with route risk assessments and onboard weighing which shuts off the packer system once the vehicles gross weight has been reached.
The authority then obtained a vehicle on a trial basis. This allowed the authority to consider the views of the crews on the new vehicle before going ahead with the rest of the fleet. The crews were represented during the process through their union safety representatives.
The final decision to go ahead with the chosen vehicle was based on the provision of the features described above and feedback from the crews. It was not based on price. The chosen vehicle was not the cheapest available, but was considered best value taking into account its ability to deliver required services as safely as possible.
The authority has kept the vehicles under review and, during the years since the lease/hire was started, has looked at new and emerging technologies being used by neighbouring authorities. This will help them make a more informed judgement on the types of vehicle they procure when the current vehicles are due for replacement.