The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has started a series of ‘hotspot’ inspections at recycling facilities in an attempt to reduce the high number of workplace accidents and deaths.
Over the next year 75 material recovery facilities (MRFs) will be visited by HSE inspectors to identify ‘poor performers’ and find out more about the health risks employees face.
According to HSE figures the employee accident rate in the waste management and recycling industry is four-and-a-half times the national average. Workplace deaths are 10 times the average.
A third of fatalities are due to employees being struck by vehicles. In 2011/12 six MRF employees were killed at work, and one member of the public was also fatally injured.
Inspectors will focus on workplace transport, machinery safety, work at height, hazardous chemicals and noise.
The Government has dramatically cut back the number of proactive health and safety inspections carried out by both the HSE and local authorities over recent years.
Funding for the HSE and local authorities has also been cut back, but the HSE has been told to target its dwindling resources on high-risk industries.
HSE chief executive Judith Hackitt recently attacked the waste and recycling industry’s poor record and called for cameras to be fitted on all waste collection vehicles.
Writing on her blog she said: “If these camera systems were fitted on all waste collection vehicles would it reduce the number of serious and sometimes fatal accidents involving employees and members of the public? It’s got to be worthy of consideration – even if it is an idea recycled from elsewhere.”