Edinburgh engineer fears for safety after finding dumped needles in Leith

A sharp increase in the number of discarded needles discovered by engineers working 10ft underground has been reported by BT and Openreach staff.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 4:45 pm

The hazardous items are often found by engineers below ground who fear their hard hats and steel toe boots won't protect them from the needles.

Company bosses are aware of the problem in the city’s port district and added that it has also become increasingly common for their staff to find needles in telecoms cabinets.

To combat this risk Openreach and BT have introduced a robust risk assessment for staff who are at risk of coming into contact with the dangerous objects.

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A needle on a Leith Street

One engineer reported having a terrifying “near miss” with a discarded needle while working on Laurie Street.

The engineer said: “It's becoming very common when entering BT boxes around Leith, We are getting near misses from needles.”

Openreach’s Service Delivery Director for Scotland Fraser Rowberry said: “As key workers, our engineers have worked hard to keep Scotland connected during the coronavirus pandemic and nothing is more important to us than keeping our people safe.

“Unfortunately, engineers in Edinburgh do regularly find needles in our telecoms cabinets and we have a robust risk assessment and sharps process which is given to all engineers and reinforced regularly.”

Laurie Street in Leith where a needle was found.

Environment Vice-Convener councillor Karen Doran said: “Discarding of needles like this is very irresponsible. We’d encourage anyone coming across needles in public places to use the ‘report it’ section on our website to make us aware and we’ll make sure it’s cleaned up as soon as we can.”

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