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Getting it on paper

With a website area dedicated to the paper industry, the Health and Safety Executive is showing that the recycling industry is still at the top of the agenda. Rebecca Allmark reports
Continuing its bid to reduce accidents and improve the recycling industry's health and safety track record, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new area of its website aimed specifically at the paper and board industries and covers papermaking, corrugated and recovered paper.
According to Chris Flint of HSE's manufacturing sector, although the information on the paper area was already available on the HSE website in one form or another, it has been updated and broken down specifically for the the industry. Flint says that the area "will act as a signpost for industry, providing relevant information on health and safety", with specific information on the Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC) which works to reduce injury and ill health in the sector.
Research into the industry's high accident rate resulted in the paper sector undertaking a major accident reduction initiative in partnership with the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and the industries' trades unions through PABIAC.
The website's new paper section contains information on "live issues" such as the government's Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy, accident targeting and research, as well as a programme of work including PABIAC's strategic framework and current projects. Also available are HSE contacts, details of the key health and safety issues for the paper industry, and information about publications.
PABIAC is made up of representative from the Confederation of British Industries, Trades Union Congress and HSE. The organisation's strategic plan up to 2005 includes promoting Health and Safety Commission priority topics and machinery guarding, slips, trips and falls and musculoskeletal disorders, and providing support to those who are trying to improve their health and safety performance.
The website area follows on from an enforcement campaign by the HSE to improve health and safety in the recycling industry. Launched last year the safe interventions project will see HSE inspectors targeting the scrap metal, rubber, wood and, of course, paper industries over the next three years to ensure that correct procedures are in place for working on machinery. The first year of the nationwide campaign focuses on the recovered paper sector where there have been a significant number of fatalities in baling machines.
News of the campaign last November came at the same time as figures that showed the recycling of scrap and waste had overtaken mining as the industry where employees are most likely to sustain major injury. In 2002/3 its reported rate of major injury was 539.6 per 100,000 employees and was the second worse offending industry to mining. However, this soared in 2003/4 to 797.7 per 100,000 employees to take it beyond mining. Statistics released by the HSE in July last year showed that the industry had the highest rate of fatal injuries to employees between 2001 and 2004 - almost 40 times the national average.
In the mid 1990s the major injury rate in the paper industry exceeded the construction industry and 10 mills accounted for 30% of the major injuries. Between 1988 and 2002, 11 people died in accidents involving baling machines.
For more information visit www.hse.gov.uk/paper


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