A raft of waste industry figures have pledged to tackle the high rate of deaths and injuries in the sector, with a five point plan set to launch in April.
Proposals to create a blueprint for measures to drive down the sector’s poor safety record were decided at an industry summit earlier this month organised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) in Solihull.
The plan is aimed at cutting incident rates by 10% year-on-year and reduce the number of fatalities to zero.
In ten months of 2012/13, 14 people died in industry related incidents.
Measures will cover areas including leadership, competence, worker involvement, support for small business, and creating safer, healthier workplaces.
HSE chair Judith Hackitt said that it was the industry’s responsibility to spearhead the drive to create a safer work environment.
“We must work together to respond to the current challenges and drive improvements in health and safety performance, but improving the track record is not for HSE to resolve alone, industry must take the lead,” she said.
The executive said the waste industry was one of the UK’s most dangerous sectors with 97 workers and 19 members of the public being fatally injured, and 3,722 employees suffering major injuries in waste and recycling activities, between 2004/5 and 2011/12.
Mark Foxall, LARAC’s vice-chair and WISH Forum representative said the event was a “wake up call”.
“Thought-provoking and inspiring presentations were given by a number of speakers, highlighting that improving health and safety is clearly in everyone’s interest, can be achieved given the right attention and is good for business rather than a hindrance,” he said.
David Palmer-Jones, chair of the Environmental Services Association and chief exec of SITA, said that improvements were being made but more needed to be done.
“We as the industry, both public and private sector, need to take stock and react appropriately to this challenge,” he said. “I can say that within the Environmental Services Association we have made progress in recent years. Working closely with the HSE and WISH, ESA members have collectively managed to reduce accident rates by 70% since 2004. This shows the pattern can be changed, although there is still a lot of work ahead for all of us.”
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