Litter picking


You should always put the safety of yourself and members of your group first. Litter picking should not be carried out in areas where there is a high risk to participants. This includes roads, highways, and riverbanks.

The level of risk will vary at each location, so prior to commencing a litter pick, you must visually inspect the site, and then complete the risk assessment.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) have lots of information and guidance on their website with regards how to undertake risk assessments, including a simple risk assessment template that you can download and use.

The litter picking group leader should ensure that all people involved in the litter pick are made aware of the findings of the risk assessment and have received all necessary, appropriate training before the litter pick commences.

General guidance

  • Volunteers should wear protective high visibility clothing and use appropriate protective equipment (boots & gloves).
  • Volunteers should never clear litter from the side of a road or areas with high levels of traffic movement.
  • Choose sensible, suitable locations: It is essential the litter pickers are visible to both pedestrians and road users and that litter picks are only conducted in clear daylight.
  • Avoid reaching into hedges or undergrowth that may expose the face, eyes and skin to scratches from thorns or branches.
  • Avoid working close to rivers and ditches or on steep slopes, as there is an increased risk of slips and falls.
  • If an item of litter cannot be safely reached with a litter picker, leave it.
  • Be mindful of wildlife - Avoid disturbing animals and birds that may be nesting and also be wary of wasp and bee nests.
  • Do not enter an area where works are restricted (for example road works) or where the public do not have a right to entry, such as privately owned land.
  • You do not need to sort or separate litter you have collected.
  • Litter should be bagged and bags tied securely when full. Large items do not need to be bagged.
  • No collections should be made directly from households, from the road or in other potentially unsafe areas.
  • Ensure that volunteers wash their hands and avoids touching their face or mouth during and after the litter pick.
  • Please do not attempt to pick up any hazardous waste. Hazardous waste should be reported to the appropriate District Council so that it can be collected safely. Hazardous waste may include:
    • hypodermic needles
    • drugs waste
    • chemicals
    • asbestos
    • broken glass
    • waste collected from rivers
  • Lifting and Handling Materials:
    • Volunteers should be aware of the risk of injury by carrying bags of collected litter and attempting to lift and carry heavy materials.
    • To avoid injury, basic principles of manual handling should be applied:
      • Use litter pickers to prevent constant bending and stretching.
      • Make sure an item is safe to handle with no sharp edges or hazardous contents.
      • Decide if an item can be safely moved either by one or two people.
      • Only try to move an item if this can be done so without straining.
      • When lifting an item, bend the legs and keep the back straight.

The above guidance is not exhaustive and has been provided to help assist with organised community litter picks.


Volunteers should not participate in litter picks unless they understand and accept that participation is entirely at their own risk.

Volunteers are not working for, or on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council and therefore the Council cannot be held liable for any loss, damage or injury caused as a result of the actions and omissions of volunteers.

Volunteer litter pickers are not working for, or on behalf of the Council, and therefore are not covered by the Council's insurance.

You may want to consider insurance cover for your clean-up.  You can find insurance advice on the litter action website.