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ESA warns of safety gap

Accidents among members of the Environmental Services Association (ESA) dropped 20% last year compared to the previous 12 months.

However, the ESA says data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also indicates that the accident rate for the waste sector as a whole had increased by 3% over the comparable period. The association has called for a breakdown of data by waste subsector to help identify problem areas.

The accident rate per 100,000 employees across ESA members was 1,327 in 2011.  This compares to a figure of 2,050 for the sector as a whole, including all private sector companies, local authority waste operations and third sector waste organisations.

The association said that since the creation of its Accident Reduction Charter in 2004, agreed jointly with the HSE, accidents among ESA members had been reduced by 70%.

Glenn Davies, chairman of ESA’s Health & Safety committee, said that improving the industry’s safety record was “an absolute priority”.

“We are acutely aware of the inherently hazardous nature of our industry, whether our colleagues are operating heavy machinery or working in public roads on collection rounds,” Davies said. “That’s why ESA and its members have for many years made improving our industry’s health and safety record an absolute priority.

“However, the data we have produced appears to show that the progress we have made has not been matched across the rest of the waste sector. Every serious accident and fatality is a human tragedy, and we believe that this divergence is a cause for concern.

“As a first step, we would like to see HSE provide a breakdown of health and safety data by waste subsector to improve awareness of where the challenges lie.  I would also emphasise that ESA is willing to work with other parts of the sector, to share the expertise we have, if that would assist in reducing accident rates elsewhere.”

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