Cllr Darryn Causby
Despite welcoming the resumption of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council meetings, the DUP is concerned Council may inadvertently be creating a “two tier health and safety policy” within the organisation.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, DUP group whip Councillor Darryn Causby questioned whether Council’s decision to meet remotely, is at odds with its decision to allow “bin collections to take place with three staff in the lorry with no social distancing”.
“The Council is a democratic institution but in recent weeks it has morphed into a bureaucratic body which is a regrettable situation and unfortunately has been aided and abetted by other political parties,” said Cllr Causby.
“The announcement of amendments to legislation that will now permit remote meetings is a welcome development. However, as an essential service, we are still of the view that members should by physically present in meetings where possible.
“We understand there are concerns regarding health and safety but we know this can be done safely.
“As a Council we allow some of our bin collections to take place with three staff in the lorry with no social distancing. We hope that Council are not creating a two tier health and safety policy depending on where you work in the organisation.”
However this suggestion was refuted by a spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
“ABC does not have a two-tier health and safety policy,” said the spokesperson.
“At present, the advice is for everyone to stay home who can and, where possible, this has been implemented to support that very important public health message.
“The arrangements to protect staff are based on the current available guidance.
“Our waste collection crews provide a vital service to protect public health and the measures outlined below have been in place from mid-March. Waste collection crews work extremely hard and spend most of their day out of their vehicle collecting thousands of bins across ABC.”
The spokesperson continued by outlining specific examples of the measures Council has put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“From a safety perspective we have put in place significant controls to reduce the COVID-19 risk to waste collection teams,” said the spokesperson.
“We as a Council, in consultation with local unions, have been decisive in our decision to protect our employees.
“Specific examples include: Those employees who are at increased risk are asked to stay at home; advising those who have symptoms to stay at home; for those who come to work, our aim is to reduce the spread of the infection. We have processes in place to ensure hand washing, catch it, kill it, bin it and frequent cleaning of vehicles and surfaces.
“We have made organisational and practical changes to limit time that employees are in vehicles together and reduce the likelihood of spread of infection i.e loaders don’t go with drivers when going to the tip, open windows staggered start times, spacing in canteen and a task and finish model.”
The spokesperson continued: “We have advised, and continue to advise, the public to clean their bin handles before and after they leave it out.
“In addition waste collection teams are provided with the facility for them to split the team to driver plus one in the RCV and one in a following van. Face masks are also provided to waste collection teams.”