Council workers have been banned from picking up rubbish bags from roadside verges because of concerns they could be breaching health and safety rules.
Cork County Council’s Rapid Response Litter Unit has been effectively stood down over health and safety fears — a move that has been described as “bureaucratic madness” by Fine Gael councillor Tim Lombard.
The decision will mean that bags of rubbish will be left lying in ditches for longer.
The two-man litter unit, based in Youghal, but covering the east Cork region, was introduced by the council last year to respond to calls from the public about fly-tipping and rubbish dumping.
The council’s director of environment, Sharon Corcoran, said alarm bells were raised by health and safety consultants about the practice of workers stopping their vehicle at the roadside to collect rubbish from verges and ditches.
She said: “The question was raised whether this could be considered road works. If it is deemed to be road works then a whole lot of health and safety procedures must be introduced. We need to know if the workers can stop at the roadside without having to introduce the full health and safety regulations, like erecting cones, and operating signs and the full documentation.
“Ultimately we need to know how best to protect our workers. We are still having talks with the health and safety consultant and I would be hopeful that it can be resolved soon.”
The decision came just months after three council road workers were suspended for filling potholes outside Carrigaline without the proper health and safety paperwork.