The poor safety record within the waste sector should be tackled with a greater understanding of the equipment used and more attention paid to safety management, according to a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The report was funded by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), and has been used to underpin a campaign ’Health and Safety; This Time It’s Personal’, unveiled at the National Refuse Championships in Weston‐super‐Mare.
The waste management and recycling industry accounts for about 0.4% of employees in the UK but the fatal injury rate during the past five years was 15 times greater than the average across all industries.
The HSE looked at 18 fatal incidents in the waste sector, 12 involving SMEs and six at large enterprises, to identify common human factors that contributed to the deaths. It says most were not specific to company size. The report concluded:
- Organisations needed better information on the equipment used: improved understanding within the industry of what constitutes good practice and ensuring that the equipment itself is effectively maintained.
- Better safety management by understanding what constitutes a risk, identifying hazards, assessing risks, identifying effective control and mitigation measures, and controlling and effectively enforcing a safety system to reduce risk to the workforce.
CIWM chief executive Dr Colin Church welcomed the report: “Many of the industry bodies and organisations with influence across the UK have worked collaboratively to improve awareness and provide useful guidance, and we know that many companies have also taken action to improve health and safety across their operations.
”However, there is still much more to do to reach the objective of ‘zero deaths’ agreed between the HSE and industry stakeholders.
“Visible enforcement is important, and we welcome the HSE’s planned programme of proactive inspections later this year. The CIWM is committed to supporting this with a behavioural change campaign to raise awareness around personal responsibility for health and safety in the workplace, and embed a more robust health and safety culture across the sector.”