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Major incident pushes up sector’s fatalities rate

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that fatalities in the waste and recycling industry have nearly doubled during the past five years. The sector remains one of the most danger­ous to work in, with an injury rate 15 times higher than the average across all industries.

These grim facts were highlighted by the death of two employees in the sector within the space of a month, in what were described as “horrific” incidents at Bywaters in London and Baldwin Skip Hire in Norfolk. The incidents prompted the HSE to issue a warning bulletin about the dangers of moving machinery, which is one of the main causes of death in the sector.

Bywaters confirmed “with great sad­ness” that an employee died at the company’s Lea Riverside site on 13 June. A statement read: “We are working with the HSE and local police investigations. Our thoughts are with his family, col­leagues and friends.”

In the second incident, a man in his 20s died at Baldwin Skip Hire in Best­horpe, Norfolk, on 15 May. He was named in local reports as James Criddle.

main kinds of fatal accidents

main kinds of fatal accidents

The HSE bulletin read: “Tragically, within a month of each other, two men have died at separate incidents within the waste and recycling industry, early reports suggesting that these were both machinery-related incidents.”

This year has witnessed a series of fatalities and serious accidents in the industry. In February, UPM reported a fatality at its Shotton paper plant on Deeside, following an incident in its recovered fibre warehouse.

The HSE has developed a draft safety plan for the waste sector, with one of the main priorities being to reduce the number of people killed by moving vehicles or caught in moving machinery. This is expected to be published in Sep­tember.

rate of fatal injuries by industry

rate of fatal injuries by industry

According to the HSE, a total of 137 workers were killed at work in 2016-17, 14 of whom were in the waste sector. The yearly average over the previous five years in the sector stands at eight.

While fatal numbers for the sector have fluctuated in recent years, the HSE said the increase was largely explained by a single incident on 7 July 2016 when five men died when a wall collapsed at the Hawkeswood recycling yard in Bir­mingham.

HSE chair Martin Temple said: “[At] the first anniversary of this inci­dent, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to support fully West Midlands Police’s investigation.”

The importance of risk assessments

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