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HSE ramping up efforts to tackle sector's safety record

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has indicated it will launch a number of safety initiatives in the sector, after research revealed 14% of local authorities are “non-compliant” in managing and procuring waste services.

In October safety inspector Janet Viney presented some early results of a three-year long project to a meeting of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee.

Inspections of 378 councils, focusing on how they managed municipal waste contracts or in-house services, found 53 were “non-compliant in relation to managing and procuring waste services as a whole”.

The report also found 10% of risk assessments covering waste services – including collection routes – were either “unsatisfactory” or “unacceptable”.

Inspectors issued 59 enforcement notices during the project, which lasted from October 2010 to March 2014.

An HSE spokesperson said the full results would be publicised, but that a date had not yet been set.

The HSE held a conference in Birmingham with around 150 waste and recycling industry representatives in November in an attempt to tackle the industry’s poor health and safety record.

Delegates were given an update on the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum’s blueprint to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries in the waste and recycling sector, published in 2013.

It was announced a new blueprint would be published early next year.

WISH is also setting up its own dedicated website, autonomous of the HSE website.

Rick Brunt, HSE

Rick Brunt, HSE

Rick Burnt, left, HSE head of waste and recycling sector, said the commitment shown from industry was encouraging but that there was still “a long way to go”.

He said: “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.”

Chris Jones, WISH chairman and director of risk management and compliance at Cory Environmental, said: “After 13 years of tough, challenging, but ultimately very successful WISH work programmes, it was good to see the level of passion and enthusiasm that remains in the industry to take on the next set of challenges.”

Waste and recycling has been branded by the HSE as “one of Britain’s most dangerous sectors”. It accounts for only about 0.5% UK employees, but accounts for 2.6% of reported employee injuries.

The head of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland waste group recently warned it is a “matter of time” before another fatality occurs at a private waste and recycling site, following a spate of accidents in the last six months.

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