Safe roadside litter picking

Concern expressed over new draft HSE guidance  on roadside litter picking (WISH 24)


Highways Agency – Interim Advice Note 115/08  Revision 2 – Requirements and Guidance for Works on the Hard Shoulder and Road Side Verges on High Speed Dual Carriageways – Revised Oct 2015

This is the only published guidance that deals with litter picking on motorways and other high speed roads.

It applies to the Highways England network.  Its application to any other road is subject to approval by the  appropriate Highway Authority. The intent is that the guidance given  may be included within future revisions of the Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8. [However “litter” is not mentioned in a revision to Chapter 8 published in 2016]

The only reference to litter picking is on page 9 where it says:

P(10) Where a series of short or medium duration stops are made which comprise mobile works on the verge, in support of activity such as walk through surveys or litter picking, a minimum separation distance of 1.2m must be maintained between personnel and the nearest live lane.

The risks involved in such work must be assessed, and any risk assessment must demonstrate that consideration has been given to providing appropriate protective measures such as lane closures, protection of a blocking vehicle in the hard shoulder (in accordance with the Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8 Part 2: Operations Plan MLC6, shown as Figure 3 in this document), coning along the edge of the verge or a combination of measures appropriate to the risks  involved.

Table 3 is reproduced here.

Fig 3 HA Guidance litter


Sample Risk Assessment Documents

Highways England recently provided sample risk assessment documents produced by one of their contractors to Zilch UK following their FOI request . One document purporting to  specify  the safe working practices for litter picking stated “If required the Temporary TM (Traffic Management) should be determined ….”   None of the documents state the criteria to be applied to assess  when TM is required and when its not.

The impression I am left with is that no proper risk assessment process is taking place. I will investigate this further.


Roads with a speed limit of under 50 mph – The Red Book

‘Safety at Street Works and Road Works’, known informally as the ‘safety code’ or the ‘red book’, is a statutory code of practice. It was published on 1 October 2013 by the Department for Transport and  came into force on 1 October 2014.  It covers works by or for utility companies (street works) and highway authorities (road works).

It says it is intended to help those organisations to safely carry out signing, lighting and guarding of street works and road works on all highways and roads, except motorways and any dual carriageways with a speed limit of 50 mph or more.

Failure to comply with this Code is evidence of failing to fulfill the legal requirements to sign, light and guard works. Compliance with the Code will be taken as compliance with the legal requirements to which it relates.

It makes no reference to “litter” or “cleaning” but it is understood that the Health and Safety Executive have said that litter-picking should be subject to the procedures laid down in this manual.

WISH 24 Draft

To resolve the current confusion WISH, the Waste Industry, Safety and Health Forum, have produced the following draft guidance (WISH 24), dated 29th April 2015, on behalf of the Health & Safety Executive   

Safe Cleansing on the Highway – Managing the Risks Associated with Manual and Mechanical Cleansing

I provided feedback to WISH arguing that the draft guidance does not recognise the fundamental differences between the risks associated with litter picking and road works. I dispute the recommendation that “the collection of litter alongside a motorway or dual carriageway should be undertaken in full accordance with the Chapter 8 code of practice.”

I argue that the wording of paragraph 12 will be used by duty bodies and their contractors to say that under H & S legislation litter picking is only permitted when undertaking other maintenance work.

A revised draft guidance was issued on in August 2015/

Safe Cleansing on the Highway – Managing the Risks Associated with Manual and Mechanical Cleansing – 02/08/2015


WISH WASTE 24 Safe cleansing on the highway – issue 1, 2015

Final version

Litter picking and working on grass verges and roadsides -Alan Lom ASPE Feb 2015

My concerns about WASTE 24 are presented on about page 13

All of our posts on health & safety and road-side cleansing

 Safe roadside litter picking links

HSE – Work related road safety 

Peter Silverman
10th October 2016


Comments are closed.