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Health and safety in waste sector improves

The number of major incidents in the waste and recycling sector has fallen below a five-year average, the latest statistics from the health and safety (HSE) executive indicate.

As MRW reported in July, four fatal injuries to workers were reported to the HSE in 2013-14, fewer than the 12 registered in 2012-13 and below an average of nine over the previous five years.

The latest full HSE report indicates the number of major incidents also decreased to 486 from 528 in 2012-13. In total, 363.2 workers per 100,000 employees were injured last year, with the rate declining from an average of 448 in the previous five years.

Rick Brunt, head waste and recycling sector at the HSE, said the decrease in injuries was “a further step in the right direction”.

“Nonetheless I would urge the industry to avoid complacency and recognise there is still a long way to go,” he added. “As a priority sector for HSE we will continue to work with the industry to address the poor safety record to further reduce the toll of death and injury.”

The statistics also indicate the number of offences and cases heard in 2013-14 were below the previous five year average, but fines were higher.

The HSE prosecuted 25 waste and recycling cases. All but one resulted in guilty verdicts, with an average fine of £59,500.

However, the injury rate in the waste and recycling industry remained higher than in agriculture (193.8) and construction (150.1), two other sectors considered as high risk by the HSE.

Overall, 133 work-related fatal injuries were recorded across all sectors in the UK, down from 150 the previous year.

The four fatalities related to waste collection, treatment and disposal activities or materials recovery, with no deaths reported among employees working with scrap.

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