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Feature: Paper Cuts

The subject of health and safety continues to dominate in the recycling and waste management industries.

But while some sectors have got their act together and faced up to their responsibilities, others continue to lag behind.

However, if the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has anything to do with it, the paper sector will stay firmly in the former category and well and truly out of the latter. At this year's RWM, the third day's seminar programme was dedicated to health and safety issues, and included a host of speakers giving medical, legal, government and industry perspectives on the topic.

Outlining what is being done to improve statistics, the success rates and plans for the future, Andrew Braund, head of health and safety at the CPI, took a realistic but positive view of paper's current place in the safety hierarchy and the safeguards that have been put in place to ensure that this improves.

"Health and safety statistics do not show the waste management and recycling industry in a good light," said Braund.

"We are under the spotlight and we have to look at what can be done. We welcomed the Health and Safety Executive's three-year enforcement-led project, and it was made clear from the start that paper would be targeted in the first year."

The CPI represents the sector on the Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC), the tripartite body comprising the HSE, employers and trades unions, that provides expert advice to the UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC).

"There is a vast network of people to call on for advice," said Braund, "and this body organises events, conferences and training for the industry. It is important to always be posing the question 'can it happen on my site?' People in the industry need to have a greater understanding of health and safety and know what their responsibilities are. We circulate checklists so that people can monitor what they are doing."

PABIAC meets three times a year, and recently launched a strategic document that Braund says will take the paper industry forward in terms of health and safety.

Making a Difference, PABIAC's strategic direction statement, has clearly stated targets to be achieved by the end of March 2008. These include: the industry's overall reported non-fatal injury rate for employers reduced to 1,000 per 100,000 employess or better; the number of working days lost each year in the industry through accidents and occupational ill health reduced by 9%, compared with the number of days lost between April 1 2004 and March 31 2005; and all sites to have in place and able to demonstrate a safety management system that meets a recognised standard such as HSG 65 or OHSAS 18001.

Although PABIAC acknowledges that many companies have made substantial progress, it believes that there should be measurable health and safety targets for industry as a whole to aim for to maintain momentum for improvement.

The document states: "In agreeing these targets, the PABIAC partners aim to encourage those companies who have yet to begin addressing the key issues to tackle them, while at the same time encouraging and supporting those who are already making progress."

November sees the PABIAC open meeting, and Braund says this is a crucial time to get the message over to people that are not usually accessible.
"We need to reach out and help those people, while already supporting the

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