The Environmental Services Association (ESA) says its members have reduced injuries by 78% since 2004, and nearly 24% in the past five years.
The statistics and the ESA’s efforts to improve safety are set out in a report, Aiming for Zero Harm in the Waste & Recycling Industry (attached), which acknowledges that the sector has not historically had the best health and safety record.
In 2004, a report revealed that the fatality rate in the waste management industry was 10 times higher than the national average, prompting the ESA to launch its Accident Reduction Charter.
“This  report in fact marked something of a turning point, serving to illustrate the need to properly assess and control risk within waste collection and processing systems and help focus regulatory intervention to improve the industry’s safety record,” the ESA says.
“A concerted effort by the industry and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since then has resulted in a general downward trend in accident rates, and with a 23.7% reduction in accidents achieved over the last five years.”
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (Riddor) is the primary indicator used by HSE and the industry for notifying and recording work-related injuries.
The ESA says its most recent data (2014) reveals that members achieved an 11.7% reduction in Riddor reportable injuries on the previous year, and have reduced injuries by 78% since 2004.
The HSE’s latest statistics show that, while the waste industry accounts for only 0.6% of all employees in Britain, Riddor injury rates remain four times that of the national average.
ESA policy adviser Stephen Freeland said: “2004 marked a turning point for the ESA, in which we agreed a more formal, structured approach to tackling our industry’s health and safety record head on. While there is clearly much more to do, our injury rate over the years has been heading in the right direction.
“We are proud of the fact that our health and safety performance exceeds the rest of the waste management industry. In fact, perhaps more surprisingly, the report also shows that the reduction in accidents achieved in the past five years by our members surpasses most other industrial sectors and the ’all UK industry’ average.”
Chris Jones, chairman of the WISH safety forum, said: “The report shows the variation in health and safety performance across the industry, and ESA members should be commended for the progress achieved.
“The WISH forum has in place a health and safety road map and associated strategic goals, and we look forward to working further with the ESA and others to improving standards across the entire industry.”