To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment the (a) Health and Safety Executive and (b) Health and Safety Laboratory has made of the risks to refuse handlers of exposure to microbiological hazards from domestic rubbish; and what assessment he has made of the ways in which such risks may be affected by changes in the frequency of collection.
Neither the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) nor the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) have made an assessment of the microbiological risks that refuse handlers may be exposed to. Health and safety legislation places a duty on employers (including local authorities and waste management companies) to carry out their own assessment of risk from hazards and ensure that the risks to the health and safety of workers and others are controlled so far as is reasonably practicable.
The HSL (in a project jointly commissioned by HSE, DEFRA, Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly Government) have produced information on the hazards associated with refuse collection that can be used by duty holders to help them make their own assessment of risks.
Separate research commissioned by DEFRA found no evidence of additional health risks from fortnightly collections compared with weekly collections.