When carrying out a neighbourhood clean-up project, there are important aspects like health and safety to consider. Avoiding danger is the most important thing:
Make sure everyone is aware of potentially dangerous items which they should not pick up. If nasty or dangerous pieces of litter are spotted at any stage during your litter pick, do not attempt to move them yourself. Make a note of their location and inform your local authority.
Natural dangers : Avoid holding your litter pick near potentially dangerous places. Line pins and tape can be used to section off any dangerous areas. For a large operation, a loud hailer can be useful to warn participants to stay within the designated area.
Working with children : Consider the ages of the children involved in your clean up and make sure that a sufficient number of adults are present to supervise. In the case of young children we advise no more than four children to one adult. Before you clean up, make sure children understand which items are potentially dangerous and should not be picked up. Do not let children attempt to pick up heavy or bulky items.
Working near water : If you have to work near water liaise with the appropriate bodies, for example, the Environment Agency, local water companies and lifeguards to check whether there are any possible hazards.
Working near roads and lay-bys : Try not to work near roads and in lay-bys. If however it is unavoidable, restrict groups to work on footpaths and verges in areas with a 40mph speed limit and below. Ask volunteers to wear fluorescent armbands, and exhibit warning signs at either end of the stretch of road while work is in progress.
Be considerate: If you are working in the country, parks, woodland or open spaces avoid disturbing animals or damaging plants. Keep gates closed and don’t clean up natural ‘rubbish’ such as logs, stones and weeds. Before your clean up, get some advice from a wildlife expert such as a conservation officer at your local Wildlife Trust.
Other issues to consider:
Recycling : It is good practice to recycle the litter you’ve collected, if at all possible. Contact your local authority’s recycling officer for advice on whether certain materials should be collected separately, where they should be taken on how they should be disposed.
Insurance : Obtaining Public Liability Insurance is very important and not very expensive. This will provide cover for any legal liability arising from accidental damage or injury that occurs during the event, including damage or injury to a member of the public or their property.
If you represent an organisation such as a local authority or school it is possible that you already have insurance in place, but it is important to check that litter picks/activity is covered under such insurance.