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New guidance for local authorities to help improve health and safety in the waste and recycling sector

The Health and Safety Executive has published new online guidance for local authorities to help them understand the importance of a sensible approach to health and safety when it comes to procuring and managing waste and recycling services, in a bid to help reduce death and injury.

Health and safety must be an integral part of the procurement and contract management processes for waste services, according to the HSE.

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: Waste and recycling is a sector which is experiencing considerable growth as we all strive to do more to respond to environmental challenges. This makes it doubly important that we take action to respond to the fact that the number of accidents in this sector continues to be high, despite recent improvements. One of the keys to further progress is getting the client or contractor relationships working well.

The guidance will help local authorities understand the full extent of their role when managing waste and recycling contractors. HSE wants to see occupational health and safety become an integral but common sense part of the specification, procurement and management of waste and recycling contracts.

The recycling industry has nine times more fatal accidents than the national average and four times as many workers suffer injuries.

The HSE identified that a contributing factor may be that some local authorities are unclear what their legal duties are and mistakenly believe that putting a service out to contract relieves them of all health and safety responsibilities.

Case studies of councils that are already working well with their service delivery partners in waste and recycling are also available online.

One such example is Wirral Borough Council which, working with waste firm Biffa Waste Services, has created a partnership approach to managing the boroughs waste and recycling services. The HSE state that the working relationship they have allows health and safety issues to be dealt with flexibly and efficiently. They have also built in checks to ensure the system is working correctly.

HSE will be running a series of regional events, from now until the end of February, giving local authority representatives the opportunity to hear more about the guidance, share experiences with others and seek advice on potential management solutions.


Injury rates for the waste and recycling industry from HSE research include:

Year     Total injuries   Calculated employment          Injury rate per 100,000 workers

3993                 176,309                         2265

2002/3  4176                 162,556                         2569

2003/4  4317                 165,140                         2614

2004/5  4357                 169,077                         2577

2005/6  4456                 176,452                         2525

2006/7  4515                 185,344                         2482

2007/8  4347                 187,134                         2384

2008/9  4328                 201,522                         2147

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