Waste and recycling vehicles in street collection

  • Published: Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 2006
  • Authors: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Date Added: 13 Jun 2013
  • Last Update: 13 Jun 2013
  • Format: pdf


Provide examples of good practice


Good practice guide outlining both vehicle issues and activities in public access areas (e.g. street collection, car parks)

Key Findings:

  • Reversing causes a disproportionately large number of moving vehicle RTIs in the waste/recycling industry. Injuries to collection workers or members of the public by moving collection vehicles are typically severe or fatal.

  • Unlike many other workplaces complete visibility often cannot be exercised over the environment during collection because of factors such as:

    • street geography;

    • street furniture;

    • other vehicles;p

    • edestrians; and

    • weather.

  • People at risk of being struck by reversing vehicles include the following:

    • loaders working at the vehicle;

    • pedestrians, including:

      • children (who might not understand the risks); and

      • people with impaired sight, hearing, or limited mobility, (who might be unaware of the activity and its risks, or may not be able to avoid the moving vehicle); and

      • other road users such as motorists, cyclists and horse riders who might unexpectedly appear during reversing operations.

  • Wherever possible you should control the risks by eliminating reversing and reducing distances reversed.

  • Examples of risk reduction measures include the following:

    • Liaise with householders and customers to re-locate waste and recycling collection points.

    • Use more appropriate vehicles.

    • Change collection methods.

    • Plan collection times, to avoid:

      • busy times on major roads;

      • shopping areas during opening hours;

      • school start and finish times; and

      • reversing into the direction of the sun.

  • Many organisations have concluded that they will always use reversing assistants unless it is not safe to do so. This is due to the constantly changing circumstances during street collections and the unpredictability of members of the public, who are often not aware of the dangers of working vehicles reversing on the street.

  • Drivers should have effective vision from the collection vehicle. The driver’s direct vision through the windscreen (area swept by the wipers) should not be obstructed by items such as stickers, clothing, newspapers or additional equipment such as CCTV monitors.

  • When reversing, the driver’s indirect vision is provided by mirrors and other reversing aids.

  • High-visibility warning lights/beacons should be fitted to the front and rear of refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) and other vehicles that operate in a similar way. They should be fitted so that they can be:

    • clearly seen;

    • capable of warning pedestrians; and

    • easily and properly maintained.

  • Reversing alarms should be fitted and be clearly audible at the side and rear of the vehicles. They should work at all times when the vehicle is reversing (during permitted hours).

  • Reversing detectors can provide additional warning of objects or people entering the reversing zone.

  • It is recommended that buyers research and assess available products for best performance as technological advances have been rapid in this area.


Reversing, Refuse Collection Vehicles, Pedestrians.


Provides useful interventions.