An Aberdeen waste collection worker has hit out at bosses for expecting staff to work in unsafe, slippery winter conditions, claiming they very nearly fell under the bin lorry a number of times yesterday.
A distressed city council employee said drivers’ claims that the roads were unsafe early in the morning fell on deaf ears at the Altens East depot.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, described the heavy vehicles as “sliding about everywhere”.
But a spokeswoman for the local authority last night said health and safety was of the “utmost importance”.
Council bin collections were badly impacted by the dump of snow in the Granite City earlier this week, leading to all crews being stood down on Tuesday afternoon.
But yesterday, despite claims the roads were worse than before, crews were sent out to collect waste.
Staff had last night caught up on streets missed on Monday and Tuesday, as well as finishing four in five of yesterday’s collections.
Early in the morning, the worried caller said: “It’s awful and slidey; I’ve almost been under the lorry three times already today with the sludge on the road.
“We can’t get the bins over the snow banks at the side of the road and the only response from management has been that we should stick to the main roads.
“The lorries are sliding about everywhere. They are getting stuck and can’t get up hills and there are cars up our rear ends.
“They said ‘if it’s not safe, don’t do it’ – but it should be a decision for the management, not us.
“They do not care about us, as long as the bins are off the streets.
“It feels like it’s going to take a serious accident before they will.”
They claimed there had been “no preparation whatsoever” for the cold snap, with grit bags being lumped in the footholds used by workers.
At around 12.30pm, the council had called off collections of mixed recycling and brown bins in “rural areas” for the remainder of yesterday and today.
But the council spokeswoman said: “The health and safety of our staff is of the utmost importance. Driving and working conditions vary greatly across the city and over time during weather events.
“To enable us to deliver essential services and work within these variables whilst at the same time protecting our staff, our waste and recycling collection drivers assess hazards and conditions as they work and make appropriate decisions based on the circumstances they face locally.
“In practice, this may mean that vehicles can safely empty bins on main roads but may not be able to collect on all side streets, rural roads or cul-de-sacs. Or they may focus on the main roads first or vary the order of their route, knowing that conditions will improve elsewhere or to allow time for the sides streets to be gritted.
“Our collection crews work tirelessly in all weathers including this week, when they have faced particularly challenging weather conditions.
“It is acknowledged that in extreme weather conditions some collections may not be completed and we will make alternative arrangements where appropriate in those instances. We are extremely grateful for the efforts of all of the team during these conditions.”