Disposing of waste contaminated rags

Disposing of waste contaminated rags

With fuel and flammable liquids, the norm in many motor trade premises, the risk of fire is significant. But, as the effects of a fire can seriously affect a business and even result in fatalities, ensuring appropriate risk management is in place is a must.

A key part of this is disposing of waste contaminated rags correctly. As there is a risk that they could ignite and start a fire, placing them in a metal bin with a metal lid will help ensure that, should this happen, the resulting fire is contained and easy to control.

But while metal bins have long been the accepted way to deal with the disposal of these items, there are new waste disposal systems coming onto the market. Rather then the classic metal bins, these new systems use plastic bins that are being sold as fire-retardant. As well as selling the bins, it’s also common for the suppliers to provide a complete service proposition, removing and replacing the bins and wipes when they’ve been used.

Although these systems are popular in mainland Europe, and do offer convenience, there are potential issues if a motor trade business does make the switch from metal bins to plastic ones. As these plastic bins have not necessarily undergone fire testing to British standards, there is no guarantee that they will contain the ensuing fire if its contents do, for instance, spontaneously combust. In some situations it could result in the plastic bin melting and the fire taking hold throughout the building.

In addition, and depending on the policy wording, using a plastic rather than a metal bin could also have implications for a motor trader’s insurance cover. Some policies will stipulate that metal bins with lids are used for the disposal of combustibles and, where this is the case and a plastic bin is used, it could affect a claim.

As we are seeing an increased use of these plastic bins, the topic was recently discussed at a RISCAuthority meeting. At this, insurer representatives were in general agreement that until these plastic bins gained any recognised British fire testing certification, it remained best practice to use the recommended metal bins with metal lids for the disposal of combustibles.


Interested in finding out more information about motor trade health and safety regulations, then check out another of our blog posts for more information on Managing Fire Risks

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