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Better health and safety reporting has led to increased accident rates, industry claims

The rise in major injury rates has been explained by recycling industry bodies as a by-product of an improved awareness of health and safety.

Environmental Services Association (ESA) director of policy Mike Walker said: Obviously an increased injury rate is a disappointment, but its inevitable that better reporting of accidents will lead to an increase in rates.

Walkers sentiments were echoed by British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) president George Bond.

He said: If you have an organisation that focuses on health and safety, staff will be more likely to report accidents.

Both the BMRA and the ESA have made health and safety a priority this year.

In July, the ESA, which represents the UKs waste management companies, launched an Accident Reduction Charter that aimed to reduce the incidence of reportable accidents by 10% every year until 2007 and to eliminate fatalities by the end of that period.

Members agreed to report annually on the number of employees and the number of accidents recorded in the preceding year, in order to measure the progress of the industry towards achieving the targets of the charter.

At the same time, the BMRA demanded to see all members accident data for the past year as part of its Health and Safety Pledge to prove they have better records than the rest of the industry.

It has been running its award-winning Passport scheme, which trains workers in employee welfare and grants them a certificate that allows money off insurance premiums, for more than three years now.

Bond said: My members are so much better today than they were three years ago. We just have to be patient and wait for these accident figures to change.

Bond added that reporting a problem early on saves lives.

He said: Tomorrows cut finger is tomorrows cut off finger. A potential accident is a potential fatality.

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