Elderly and disabled Archway residents told to haul rubbish up stairs to protect bin men

PUBLISHED: 07:03 08 May 2012

Rubbish collectors refused to use the seven steps

Rubbish collectors refused to use the seven steps


Elderly and disabled residents were told to haul their rubbish up a flight of stairs for health and safety reasons so that strapping binmen didn’t have to.

The letter from Islington Council’s street management officer, Joseph Mills, said:

It has been brought to our attention that there is a health and safety risk to refuse and recycling collectors removing waste from the current area where your refuse is being stored. I am writing to you concerning the potential risk of personal injury to operatives carrying out the refuse collection operation... it has been established that your property carries a potential risk to the refuse collectors... the area where your refuse waste is currently being stored is unsafe and poses a serious manual handling problem for the operatives.

Residents of the basement flats in Hargrave Park, Archway, recently received letters from Islington Council saying they can no longer leave their bins outside their front doors, just seven small steps down from street level.

The council said the setup poses an unacceptable “risk of personal injury” and a “serious manual handling problem” to its refuse collectors.

Robin Lawrence, 64, said: “They wanted us to take the bins up and put them in the street the night before collections. Many of the people in these basement flats are old or disabled and to expect them to do what young, fit rubbish collectors won’t do is rather absurd.”

His wife Ros Mackenzie said: “I have lived here for 16 years and it’s been working fine in all that time. I have never heard of any bin men being injured.”

Mr Lawrence said 17 of the downstairs occupants have installed hand railings to help them scale the steps. Yet council officers originally appeared to think it was just fine for them to carry the trash up themselves.

A stand-off ensued after rubbish was left to pile up because they refused to carry up the bins.

Then on Monday, after furious complaints from Mr Lawrence and his neighbours, Islington Council visited the site and agreed that bin men can descend the steps after all – but ruled that a two person team will now have to handle the perilous job.

Mr Lawrence said: “First they wanted old people to do it and now they say it’s a two-man job.

“They have come to some cockamamie solution where they’re going to have two guys passing the bags up the stairs.

‘‘I think it’s rather ridiculous and will take twice as long, but at least we won’t have to do it.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “We temporarily suspended normal service after a waste crew member fell on the stairs and was injured.

‘‘We inspected the site and introduced a safer way of workings.

“The letter sent to residents did not make it clear the suspension was temporary and we apologise for any confusion.”

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