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The Duty of Care.

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The Duty of Care is a legal term used to describe a part of UK law, known as tort. Its application imposes a legal obligation on an individual to adhere to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could forseeably harm others and is the first element that must be established before proceeding with a “claim of negligence”. The claimant must be able to show a duty of care imposed by law which the defendant has breached. (source: wikipedia).

 

The term “Duty of Care” forms the basis for the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 (full text), which is in essence the formalisation of the above contractural obligations into statute. In doing so, it imposes certain standards upon duty holders when dealing with controlled waste. Under the Duty of Care, waste holders are required to fulfill specific obligations (dilligence & prudence), mitigating potential impacts upon the environment and certain stakeholders.

Main Legal Requirements

 

Classification of Controlled Waste: Waste is defined as being something that the “holder” discards or intends to discard. When produced by a household, commerce or industry, such wastes are considered “controlled” and their disposal should be in compliance with the regulations.

 

Storage of Wastes: Whether Controlled or Special (Hazardous), wastes have to be handled in such a way as to prevent or minimise any impact on the environment and others. Waste should be kept safe against deterioration of containers, accidental spilling or leakage, escape from containment, vermin and scavanging. Duty holders have a responsibility to ensure that any wastes in their possession are stored safely.

 

The methods used to treat, recover or dispose of a waste as well as the conditions in which it is stored or transported also dictate whether it remains “controlled” or has to be further considered Special (hazardous). For example, some wastes react when mixed with other wastes or when treated in such a way as to produce a chemical or biological reaction. Secure storage, transport and the use of correct treatment procedures all help to mitigate the impact of waste upon the environment. There’s more information about Hazardous Wastes and how they are classified here.

The Transfer

 

Transfering Waste to the correct person:

 

Households are exempt from the Duty of Care where Local Authorities oversee the collection process. (Third parties acting on behalf of local authorities are not exempt from the need to register as a waste carrier).

 

Any waste holder may transfer waste to someone who transports it (a contractor). The contractor must be registered as a waste carrier with a regulatory authority (Environment Agency for England & Wales, SEPA for Scotland). It is important that the holder also checks that the waste is being correctly disposed of by the contractor (ask where it is being sent or delivered to).

 

The Tranfer Note

 

The transfer of Controlled Wastes must be accompanied by a Controlled Waste Transfer Note (except where exempt- charities are exempt, as is waste when transported by rail or sea).

 
A transfer note should provide sufficient detail to describe the waste being transfered, how it is stored and the parties involved in the transfer (the holder and the person collecting the waste). The transfer note should also document where the transfer took place and registration details (carrier license) of the person collecting the waste.

 

Further Applicable Regulation

Other regulation applies when transferring any materials into the posession of a third party contractor. These include the application of Health and safety whilst the contractor carries out his/ her duties on your premises and the need to consider loading of the vehicle, it’s gross vehicle weight and limitations applicable to the UK, including axle weight.

 

You have a duty of care to ensure that your contractor does not transport your goods in an unsafe manner that may endanger others.

 

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