Introduction

Litter Picking is normally a safe and rewarding activity. This page gives you some useful guidance on some key things to consider when preparing to go out on a litter pick. It is not comprehensive, and of course cannot cover every possible risk factor. It is up to you as an individual to consider and mitigate and take responsibility for risks – just as you would when planning any outdoor activity either by yourself, or with friends or family.

If you are organising a formal group pick open to the public then we strongly recommend that these be properly insured and risk-assessed either under the advice of an insured and formal local litter-picking organisation, or an insured national body such as Keep Britain Tidy or Surfers Against Sewage. This will give you peace of mind should anything go wrong.

The minimum safety kit we recommend – a grabber, strong gloves and a hi-vis top. All are widely available online and at hardware stores.

Litter Picking Safety (including COVID)

Due to high-risks involved in COVID-19, when it comes to litter picking we would advise people to stick to the main guidance rather than relying on exemptions relating to voluntary work. Please check the government website and the Keep Britain Tidy website for the latest guidance and advice.

Litter Networks would also advise people to make full consideration of additional safety measures such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), safe handling of littered PPE, sanitisation of litter pickers, and safe practices for litter picking on your own. 

In general, volunteer litter pickers should:

  • Wear strong gloves and use a litter grabber and other protective equipment including a hi-vis jacket.
  • Never attempt to handle sharps. These should be reported to your local council for collection. This can normally be done via their website.
  • Keep any conversations with the public positive. For example we recommend you don’t confront or even photograph from afar people you see dropping litter, in case things escalate and your safety is put at risk.
  • Use sanitiser during the clean up, particularly when touching items that may be handled by others. Using only your own kit is strongly recommended.
  • Wash hands before and after the event for 20 seconds
  • Clean and disinfect any equipment using household products and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Maintain social distancing by keeping a 2 metre distance from others
  • We advise in the strongest terms against litter picking on any road with a speed limit above 30mph, and on any road of any speed-limit with minimal or no safe pavement. The same goes for litter picking on any slippery embankments and close to open water. Generally – consider risks, and mitigate against them – if in doubt, don’t do it. Safety First.

Further guidance on litter picking can be found on the Keep Britain Tidy website

Most importantly – please stay safe!