Almost two-thirds of the enforcement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) during an unannounced inspection campaign for the waste sector – which ran from October to December 2017 – were for risks associated with machinery and transport.
An HSE spokesperson told MRW that enforcement notices were served for unguarded machinery and the lack of ability to isolate equipment for safe clearing of blockages and maintenance. “Transport-related enforcement notices were served as vehicles and pedestrians were not safely segregated, drivers were found to be untrained and plant/vehicles were not maintained or being examined to ensure they were safe to operate,” the spokesperson said.
Ahead of the HSE campaign, Rick Brunt, its head of waste and recycling, flagged up the fact that the industry continues to have one of the poorest health and safety records, hence its status as a ‘priority sector’. The HSE wants to see in particular a reduction in the number of people killed by moving vehicles or caught in moving machinery.
Its statistics published in 2017 showed that being struck by a moving vehicle accounted for 23% of fatalities in the industry, while contact with machinery accounted for 18%. In the five years to 2016-17, there were 39 fatalities to workers while 11 members of the public were killed as a result of work activity in the sector.
“We will continue to target our inspections and enforcement to secure effective management of risks from transport and machinery.”
The HSE’s three-month inspection campaign visited around 600 sites. Notices of contraventions were issued to 48% of sites, although industry sources have told MRW that this figure includes ‘relatively minor’ breaches because this enables the HSE visits to be chargeable to the company. According to the HSE, only one in five ‘dutyholders’ stated that they were aware of the campaign, which had been publicised via press releases, social media and e-bulletins. The campaign will be repeated in the same period in 2018.
A spokesperson said: “The results of the inspection campaign demonstrate that the HSE is right to be treating the industry as a priority sector. We will continue to target our inspections and enforcement to secure effective management and control of risks from transport and machinery. However, to positively improve health and safety in the industry, [all businesses] need to take ownership of these challenges, work together and demonstrate leadership on implementing solutions.”
In a bid to improve safety for people working in the metals sector, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is currently involved in several pieces of work. The association provides its members with health and safety advice covering all metal recovery/recycling activities undertaken by members, including specialist plant and machinery hazards.
It has a health and safety manual for members which is currently being completely updated by external consultants. This will also be peer-reviewed by the organisation’s health and safety committee, made up of industry experts and third-party training providers, before publication in the summer.
The BMRA’s health and safety committee will also be looking at the three ‘health’ elements set out by the HSE (musculoskeletal, lung, stress) as well as considering ways to help reduce the number of accidents resulting from the five leading causes of accidents/serious injury: slips, trips and falls; working at height; moving plant and machinery; moving vehicles; and,moving/falling objects.
Other work planned for 2018 is the development of an online risk assessment tool that would be tailored for each member or member yard. ‘Toolbox talks’ and other training aides are likely to follow. The association has also been working with the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum on several initiatives. It sits on the WISH safer working group and the metals recycling sub-group.
Seeking out specialist training providers is also an ongoing BMRA initiative. This is something it believes will be particularly important as it rolls out its metal recycling general operative apprenticeship.
For example, the BMRA has identified an emerging risk to workers when it comes to depolluting the hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) that are beginning to come through the supply chain. It has become apparent that there is a need for high-quality training on the safe handling and depollution of EVs, and the BMRA is in discussions with vehicle manufacturers and training providers to find a way to deliver that training.