About this guidance

As a local authority (LA), waste management is an integral part of your responsibilities and so forms part of your undertaking under health and safety legislation. The guidance on these web pages is intended to assist you in discharging your legal responsibilities for managing health and safety in waste, recycling and associated environmental services (from here on called 'waste services' or 'service'). The scope of the guidance includes both the procurement process and the subsequent management of the service or contract – whether you provide it in-house or contract it out.

Many LAs deliver waste services (or parts of them) in-house, and some of the contract-related references in this document may not seem appropriate. But the principles set out here are relevant to all LAs, including those who provide the services in-house. They set out good management practice for delivering waste services and should be applied to the design, selection and management of waste service delivery – no matter who it is provided by. However, to effectively apply the principles where the service is provided in-house, more formal, accountability relationships between those in client and provider roles within these authorities may need to be established.

Health and safety considerations must be an integral part of the procurement and contract management processes for waste services. In your client role, you have a significant influence on how the service will be delivered. This guidance shows how the health and safety requirements can be integrated into the process, but it is not a guide to detailed procurement practices or contract law.

In England and Wales you can get more specific advice and support on procurement issues, and related information, from:

  • Local Partnerships
  • Value Wales (Sell2Wales) who provide general advice on procurement and contract management.
  • The Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP), through its local government services team, provides free support to LAs on strategic and operational aspects of waste management including procurement advice directly related to waste services.
  • The Waste Improvement Network (WIN) is a source of further information on waste services aimed primarily at waste disposal and collection authorities

In Scotland procurement is a devolved issue and relevant guidance and advice can be obtained from Scotland Excel.

The guidance on main dutyholder responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for the delivery of a safe and healthy waste service draws particular attention to your duties in the client role. But service providers (whether contractors or in-house) also have a key role in delivering a safe and healthy waste service and those direct employer responsibilities are equally as important. Such joint responsibilities should be reflected in the wording of your contract documentation as illustrated by The Chartered Institution of Waste Management (CIWM) Standard Form of Waste Management Agreement, for example.

The contract management cycle for delivery of waste and recycling services can be broken down into a number of key stages:

Specification and requirements of the contract/service
Design and pre-tender issues, invitation to tender
Evaluation and selection of the contract/service
Contract/service definition and contractor selection
Management of the contract/service
Contract operation, monitoring/compliance and contract end/renegotiation processes

At each of these stages, as client you are required to take steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of those affected by the activity, so far as is reasonably practicable, whether they are your staff, those of contractors, subcontractors or members of the public.

Given the cyclical and often intense nature of contract management, as client you must allow sufficient time (and resources) to properly undertake the whole process. It is particularly important to avoid slippage and delay at the early 'lead-in' stages, which could result in pressure on, and adversely affect, service mobilisation and safe systems of work being in place right from the start. You should also allow sufficient time for, and give sufficient weight to, the process of reviewing and applying lessons learnt from one contract/service delivery to the next.

This guidance is structured to reflect the key stages of the contract management process and outlines a number of features and principles of good practice associated with each of these steps, including specific case studies which illustrate the issues under discussion.

Case study examples illustrate how the principles have been converted into practice, and demonstrate they can be achieved and are well within the capabilities of you the client and your service providers.

You should take steps to integrate occupational health and safety considerations within the specification, procurement, management and delivery of waste services. As such, this advice is relevant to your role:

  • As designers and specifiers of services;
  • As procurers of services (client);
  • As providers of services (employer), where applicable; and
  • In the ongoing management of delivery of such services, whether contracted out or delivered in-house.

Many parties with extensive experience and a working knowledge of waste service delivery have contributed to this guidance: including those in client roles for LAs, private sector contractors and HSE inspectors (for example, there is a summary of the findings from HSE inspections of waste collection services conducted between April 2005 and March 2007).

The advice has also been informed by lessons learned from the waste industry's own experience of achieving improvements through its concerted effort to drive down high accident rates, especially those relating to fatalities. It provides the opportunity for everyone involved in delivery of waste services to benefit from the lessons learnt from both the incidents themselves and subsequent improvements. An excellent way of continuing to seek that feedback is through active worker involvement which goes beyond mere worker consultation.

Waste services are only one of a range of activities and services that you as a client can contract out. Although the broad principles in this guidance can be applied more generally you should be aware that it aims to specifically cater for the complex and potentially competing regulatory demands that you face in relation to waste management and recycling.

You should also be aware that additional specific legislation might apply in different settings – such as your client duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), for example, for which more relevant information is available from HSE's CDM pages, its publications Want construction work done safely? INDG411 and Managing health and safety in construction L153 as well as other sources such as Construction Clients' Group. The client aspects applicable under CDM 2015, will be of particular relevance to you where waste facilities are being built as part of any waste service contract.

The HSE publication Using contractors: A brief guide provides general guidance for you as clients when using contractors. In addition, the joint HSE and Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum publication WASTE23 Safe waste and recycling collection services also includes specific guidance for you as clients in control of contracts and for those who specify and operate waste collection services.

In preparing this guidance, HSE has consulted with LAs, contractors and their representative bodies (such as Local Government Employers (LGE) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA)). HSE has also consulted the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and representative bodies from across the waste and recycling industry including the Waste Industry Health and Safety (WISH) Forum and Government Departments such as the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the devolved administrations.

This guidance contains notes on good practice and is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other equally effective action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice.

The guidance and case studies will be updated and added to. To supplement existing case studies, HSE would welcome further ones from all types of contracts (and not just those relating to collection activities).

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Updated: 2024-02-09