Duty of Care – What Is It and Why Is It Important?
If you’ve looked at the recycling industry in any detail, you will have seen the phrase Duty of Care thrown around. Simply put, the duty of care is the list of responsibilities a company has to make sure everyone is safe. Business are responsible for making sure their waste is transferred to a responsible holder to deal with it correctly, and must deal with things according to protocol.
The effects of neglecting these don’t just apply to the producers and disposers, but also those carrying the waste between sites, or storing waste more difficult to dispose of such as hazardous chemicals. That’s why everyone that is involved in the entire process has this responsibility.
The code also applies for those in Scotland or Northern Ireland who transport waste in or out between England or Wales.
Origin of Duty of Care
The act for this policy first came into effect as a legislation in 1990 under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act. With many concerns about how the handling of waste affected human health, the legislation was drawn up to ensure businesses wouldn’t put people’s safety at an active risk in England or Wales.
The legislation is part of the law, so no business can go against it without receiving fines or a prosecution. In order to assure this and keep your business’ reputation secure, you must make sure to keep track of each part of a waste’s transfer, so it doesn’t get lost along the way, and that the appropriate steps are taken in disposing of it.
With waste crime reaching new peaks, following the Duty of Care has become even more important as of late. Such waste crime can cost the government over £1 billion each year according to reports in 2016 and require many extra resources in order to halt the problems caused by it.
In 2016, over 1,000 sites were found to be working illegally, not having the appropriate papers such as permits, or licences required for their line of work.
Waste criminals have also started renting far more land or empty industrial sites in order to either store or dump their waste on. They’re also usually efficient enough to leave before the landowner can find and bust their operation. In such cases where the criminals can’t be traced, the landowner will be forced to take charge of hiring the clean-up company and paying the necessary fines and potentially face court sentences if the waste can only be traced back to their land or company.
Ways to Enforce Duty of Care
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious way of not going against the Duty of Care, or being scammed by waste criminals, is to make sure your waste carrier has the correct licence for the job- and to make sure the details are right by checking with the waste contractor or through the permit database. Making sure these licences are kept on file and up to date is also important, as expired licenses are punished the same as someone without one in the first place. In order to make sure the waste is transported safely through all the stages of its eventual disposal, you should make sure that staff are trained thoroughly in how to go about this and that a team for waste management control are put in place.
Another thing to make sure of is that all waste transcripts are the right ones for that type of waste, such as making sure hazardous waste has a permit specifying it’s for hazardous waste and making sure there’s a season ticket for multiple disposals. Make sure you don’t lose the paperwork either by keeping a copy of all the paperwork on file for as long as it requires.
To make sure the waste can be disposed of properly in the first place, be sure to also avoid different types of waste becoming mixed up and contaminated by each other.
For a full guide to the Duty of Care created by the government, click here.