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HSE brands the increase in waste sector deaths 'disappointing and worrying'

The waste industry has been urged to make a “concerted effort” on safety after it emerged that fatalities in the sector doubled last year.

Provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive showed there were 10 fatal injuries to workers in the waste and recycling sector in 2012/13 - up from five in the previous year.

This came against a dip in the number of deaths across all UK industries last year.

Recycling suffered 8.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012/13, compared to an average of about six deaths per 100,000 workers in the past five years.

Graeme Walker, head of waste and recycling at the HSE, said: “The increase in workers killed last year is both disappointing and worrying.

“Although it is fair to say the number of deaths has fluctuated greatly year on year over the last five years, the industry needs to make a concerted effort to end that cycle of yearly variations and bring about sustained improved performance year on year.”

Fatalities from the years 2004/05 to 2011/12, but excluding the latest year, are shown in the graph (above).

In June, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum set out its blueprint for industry safety, supported by the HSE, including a five-part plan to reduce the number of fatalities in the waste sector.

Stephen Freeland, policy executive at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said: “Every fatal accident is of course a tragedy. However, fatal incidents represent a small fraction of the overall number of accidents in the sector and therefore the numbers of such incidents can often fluctuate from year to year.

“It is therefore difficult to make meaningful analysis of the trends behind such incidents or to benchmark the overall performance of the sector against fatal incidents.

“ESA is an active Member of the WISH Forum and strongly supports the recent launch of the blueprint, which aims to improve the health and safety performance of the waste sector. The blueprint identifies a range of measures to reduce the overall number of waste sector accidents, including fatal incidents.”

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