Blow-ins: Dan Conroy of Dublin's Griffith Avenue gets busy cleaning the street

TO the eye they give the city a warm golden hue, but for Dublin City Council, autumn leaves are an almighty headache.

Over 550 maintenance workers have been employed to clean leaves off streets amid fears that they could block drains and cause floods or that people could slip and take compensation claims.

While some of the workers are attached to dedicated leaf-eradication teams, other staff members are undertaking the clean-up on top of their usual maintenance duties.

Hugh Coughlan of the environment and engineering department in the council said that, although the leaves which are currently covering the city are "atmospheric", it had led to a "Jekyll and Hyde situation".

"The leaves can be potentially hazardous and lead to people slipping on the footpaths around Dublin. We have had no injury claims yet but there are areas which are worse than others, like Griffith Avenue. But we have over 550 people working on cleaning it up."

Coughlan said there were now issues with the fallen leaves clogging up gutters which would lead to an increased risk of flooding in the current bad weather.

"Because the fall is coinciding with the bad weather we are left with a potentially very serious situation in relation to flooding. There are over 51,000 gutters and shores in the city which now need to have all the leaves cleaned out. If we don't it will lead to widespread flooding."

The council has estimated that the costs of keeping shores and gutters clean will have cost €600,000 by the end of this year alone. "A proportion of that will be because of the clean-up of the leaves, and while it is a big sum, if we are not proactive it will lead to very serious events. This is why we have so many people working on all different aspects of the clean-up," says Coughlan.

Most of the leaves now being collected around the city will be composted by the council over the coming days.