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Crackdown starts on sector's poor safety record

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to hit the waste and recycling industry with another three-month inspections blitz, in a bid to tackle what it said was one of the worst records of any industrial sector.

The series of unannounced inspections of waste management sites will begin next week. HSE staff will assess focus on management of workplace transport and machinery safety.

It is the second time the HSE has targeted the waste sector. It previously ran a campaign of inspections from October to December 2017 in response to incidents such as the death of contract worker Austin Thomas at the UPM Shotton plant.

Waste and recycling’s abysmal record included the worst fatal injury rate at around 10 times the average across all industries.

An HSE analysis said the main causes of fatal injuries to workers were being struck by moving vehicles, accidents with moving machinery and being injured by something collapsing or overturning.

In the five years to 2016-17, the industry saw 39 fatalities to workers and 11 to members of the public.

Around 5% of waste and recycling workers suffer non-fatal incidents, about double the all-industry rate. The main causes included lifting and handling and slips, trips and falls.

Another 5% suffered a work-related illness, again higher than the all-industry rate, with musculoskeletal disorders and work-related stress being the most common factors.

The HSE warned that it “will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements”.

Head of waste and recycling Rick Brunt said: “The waste and recycling industry continues to have one of the poorest health and safety records. This inspection initiative will look at certain activities to ensure effective management and control of risk.”

Brunt said everyone in the industry should “refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance”.

The HSE’s sector plan for waste and recycling will see it direct its inspection and enforcement activity on risks posed by moving/reversing vehicles, contact with machinery and musculoskeletal disorders, engage with manufacturers and designers of work equipment to design out risks and help smaller firms to manage health and safety.

 

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