Council says no to hard rubbish pick up

CLAIMS by Latrobe City Council the kerbside hard rubbish service was ceased in accordance with WorkSafe regulations have been rejected by the authority.

The hard rubbish issue has been contentious since it was scrapped in 2004 and has been dug up recently by Latrobe City Councillor Sharon Gibson.

Cr Gibson called to reinstate the kerbside service at a council meeting last week but the motion was lost due to lack of support.

“If we can do it now, at a charge to the people, why can’t we do it now as kerbside hard rubbish?” Cr Gibson said.

“What’s the difference? The difference is we are charging for it.

“(I believe) the issue is that safety is minimised if we don’t have as many collections and people take their rubbish to the tip; I don’t think we should minimise our (council’s) risk by putting it on the public.”

Councillor Bruce Lougheed said council ceased the service on advice by WorkSafe about Occupational Health and Safety issues.

In an animated speech to the public gallery, Cr Lougheed claimed a WorkSafe representative visited the region in 2004 and urged council to end the service “immediately”.

He said some councillors had “short memories” as the issue had been addressed with a working party which investigated the “best outcome”.

“This (paid at-call service) is the only way we can do this in a safe and proper manner,” Cr Lougheed said.

These claims were supported by Councillor Graeme Middlemiss who said “this issue stands before WorkSafe, not council”.

However, WorkSafe media manager Michael Birt denied these claims, and said there were no restrictions on providing kerbside services.

“We were not privy to the decision process taken by council to arrive at its decision or what alternatives were looked at,” Mr Birt said.

“There is no ban on hard rubbish collections. However, steps to reduce the risk of injury to collectors need to be put in place.

“This might include not providing the service, however, options to allow the service to continue might involve the use of lifting equipment, limiting the size and weight of potential loads or having appropriately trained staff.”

Mr Birt said many councils still provided the kerbside hard rubbish collections service.

“I suspect the guts of it is they can run the service, they have chosen not to,” he said.

Currently, council provides two self-haul no charge weekends per year for residents to take their hard rubbish to any of the Latrobe City’s four transfer stations.

It also provides residents with two booked kerbside ‘at-call’ collections per year, at a cost of $20 per collection per household or $10 for concession card holders.

Latrobe City Council mayor Ed Vermeulen said council was made aware the kerbside hard waste collection services provided prior to 2004 were inconsistent with WorkSafe guidelines.

In a meeting with The Express, Cr Vermeulan said the current service was a safer alternative and provided a sufficient rubbish collection service which was financially responsible.

“If it were possible (to reinstate the kerbside hard rubbish service) I think we would have to see some evidence whether to change the system would be the way to go, because there will almost certainly be higher costs involved as far as our ratepayers are concerned,” Cr Vermeulen said.

In response to the difference between OHS concerns with the at-call or kerbside service, Cr Vermeulen said there was a “magnitude” of differences between the collections.

“Effectively (at-call service) works in a much more limited way,” he said.

“The on-call service is not a huge service… it is not a widespread service going from nature strip to nature strip collecting huge amounts of stuff, it doesn’t work that way.

“WorkSafe has given us specific instructions and we can’t go beyond that; I know there is an inconsistency with some councils that are doing it but we were given those instructions.”

Councillor Dale Harriman supported Cr Gibson’s motion as he believed it would reduce community members dumping goods in front of Salvation Army and St Vincent’s de Paul centres.

“All we are doing is transferring the problem to someone or somewhere else,” Cr Harriman said.

Council adopted a report which stated the current Hard Waste Service provided to residents was the “best practice” approach and consistent with legislation.