Watch footage of violence and dangerous driving faced by bin crews
Bin crews are facing increasing risk of injury from violent residents and dangerous drivers.
Incidents include motorists speeding recklessly on pavements past staff instead of waiting patiently for wagons to move.
Examples have been caught on vehicle security cameras and released today as part of a new respect campaign launched with police and unions.
While council bosses describe the overall number of incidents as "low but growing", they want to tackle the problem before an employee or innocent member of the public suffers injury or even worse.
Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services at Durham County Council, said: “The vast majority of our residents know that the bin crews have a demanding job, working in all weathers, providing a valued service and like me are shocked and appalled to see the footage of assaults and near misses.
“Whilst the overall number of incidents are low, they are completely inexcusable, and not only endanger our crews, but can also impact on wider community safety too.
"The near misses from vehicles driving on pavements around a refuse wagon might just as easy hit a child as a crew member.
“It has to stop, and we will take action to prosecute where appropriate.”
The new respect campaign – which has the backing of Durham Police and the Unison, Unite and GMB trade unions – follows 24 serious incidents in the last year.
Chief Inspector Lee Blakelock, of Durham Constabulary, said: “An assault on anybody is not acceptable. People carrying out their daily work should be able to do so without the fear of violence.
“We will work together with the council to tackle assaults on their staff and wholeheartedly support their campaign to keep their employees safe.”
GMB regional organiser Micky Hopper said: “Over the last year we’ve had a number of incidents where drivers and crews have been assaulted or abused and that can’t be right.
“People have the right to be protected while they work and it is well worth supporting any cause that helps to keeps workers safe.”
If you have a legitimate comment or complaint about Durham County Council’s refuse and recycling services then use the Do It Online system at www.durham.gov.uk or call 03000 260000.