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Birmingham bin collectors "terrified" of spreading coronavirus

Birmingham bin men believe that they are being put at risk. Credit: PA Images.

Birmingham waste collectors are "terrified" of spreading coronavirus to their families as some believe that their work is putting them at a great risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refuse workers have so far not been issued with face masks and as part of their duty they are required to sit next to their colleagues in close proximity whilst traveling in the bin lorry.

A bin man from Birmingham is concerned for his and his family's health as he states that social distancing in his role "is not possible".

Another bin man has also stated that most of the estimated 600 refuse workers in the city are "family men and are terrified of taking this home to their partners and children".

Bins have been spilling over due to the closure of recycling centres. Credit: PA Images.

The GMB union has been pushing the council to provide the proper personal protective equipment for refuse workers as a number of concerns has been raised.

"The fact is that each and every day, they are turning out to provide a vital front line service. They are having to travel around the city with their crews in close proximity. This raises serious concerns about social distancing."

– GMB union spokesperson

There is also a large number of over flowing bins due to the closure of recycling centres which means that bin collectors are having to handle increasing amounts of rubbish.

A GMB union spokesperson has said that as they come into contact with people's rubbish "they need gloves and access to top hand santiser".

Birmingham City Council have responded with the comment below.

"We are aware of concerns and have spoken to our staff and unions and taken advice from public health colleagues. There is a national shortage of masks, however the protective gear worn by our bin crews is adequate as they are not in regular face-to-face contact with residents. Like all responsible employers we are asking anyone with symptoms to stay away from work as per the national government and NHS guidance."

– Birmingham City Council Spokesperson

Birmingham City Council has also asked that residents play their part in helping keep crews safe by double-bagging their waste and waiting 72 hours before disposing of it in their household bin, if any residents are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

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