Homeless people sleeping in bins and skips may be killed if they are not spotted by workers, a council has warned.
Trade waste services (TWS) employees have been finding rough sleepers inside the rubbish containers after arriving to clear them.
Kirklees Council has now sent out an “important notice” to customers, saying: “If they had not been seen by our crews, then this could have led to them being tipped into the vehicle with the waste and being badly injured or killed.”
A total of 11 people have been killed after sleeping in bins across the UK over the past five years, with the majority being “crushed to death”, according to the Environmental Services Association.
The council is working to highlight the issue as more rough sleepers seek shelter ahead of the cold winter months, according to Yorkshire Live.
One part of its notice reads: “Kirklees Council Trade Waste Services has provided training to all their employees to check each bin before it is emptied and are currently rolling out a winter campaign to all its business customers to urge anyone to report any instances where this may be occurring.”
The authority is encouraging local businesses to keep their bins locked where possible, and to check them when putting out rubbish.
It also advised looking out for “signs of activity”, such as lids being propped open, pallets used for access, bedding inside and evidence of drink of drugs.
Councillor Naheed Mather, cabinet member for the environment, said other measures include the additional training of staff and producing warning stickers to go on bins.
She explained: “A letter was sent out to all of our trade waste customers to raise awareness of the possibility of rough sleepers taking shelter in skips and trade waste bins over the winter months.
“We want to make sure businesses know what signs to look out for, as spotting someone isn’t as obvious as it may seem, and what to do and where to signpost rough sleepers to get the support they need if they encounter anyone sleeping in their bins.
“The letter was just one part of a proactive three-pronged approach in creating awareness, which also includes additional training for the staff who empty the bins, and warning stickers to go on bins, which are currently in production.
“Sleeping in bins also poses a health and safety risk and while fortunately there have been no accidents in Kirklees, we hope that through promoting awareness, we can prevent this from happening and get rough sleepers the help they need.
“Street Link exists to help connect rough sleepers with local services that can help support them, if you or someone you know is sleeping rough, please call 0300 500 0914 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk for support.”