The Environmental Services Association has called on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to compile more meaningful data on injuries to reflect “the considerable variation” in performance in the waste industry.
The ESA has published a report on contrasting performance in the sector, highlighting a difference between its members and waste managers outside the organisation.
It says the HSE is right to point out the “sobering” statistics of a reported injury rate of 1,800 per 100,000 employees in the waste and recycling sector, with its latest figures showing ”little sign of meaningful improvement in injury reduction on the year before”.
“We believe the HSE was right to shine the spotlight on the industry’s performance, which we hope provides the catalyst for improvement and encourages all within the industry to do more to work towards zero harm,” the report says.
But it adds: “One key aspect that is perhaps not evident from the official statistics is the considerable variation in health and safety performance that exists within the waste management industry.”
The ESA argues that one of the main shortcomings of the HSE’s dataset is that it uses a single index for the whole industry and offers little insight into how one part fares against another – for example, contracted collection services compared with the same services delivered in-house.
Using the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurances Regulations 2013 indicator (Riddor), the industry’s overall figure of 1,800 compares with the ESA members’ Riddor total of 577, a figure cut by more than 85% since 2004 and down 37% in the two years since 2014 (see chart).
Fatalities in the industry are around 15 times higher than the all-UK industry average, with 39 worker fatalities recorded since 2012.
ESA policy adviser Stephen Freeland said: “Our new health and safety report aims to bring this contrasting performance to the fore and offers a number of recommendations to ensure resources are targeted, and best practice widely disseminated, to ensure that everyone in the industry is working to the same high standards.”
The four main recommendations for the HSE in the report are:
- Disaggregating private and public sector injury statistics to allow more meaningful comparison and for resources to be more effectively targeted on areas of greatest risk
- Adopting the right key performance indicators to ensure that health and safety remains at the centre of service delivery
- Improving representation and engagement of all parts of the sector with the WISH Forum
- Extending the national lead inspector programme to include a broader range of organisations
The report also found that collection of waste from the kerbside was one of the most high-risk aspects in the industry. Together, slips, trips & falls along with manual handling and impact injuries made up more than 70% of all reported incidents.
- Slips, trips and falls (40%)
- Impact (17%)
- Manual handling (14%)
- Falls from height (9%)
- Vehicle/plant (8%)
- Needlestick/cuts (6%)
- Others (6%)
Waste collection activities remain the most hazardous aspect of the waste management industry’s operations, with nearly half of all non-fatal injuries in 2016 associated with such activities.
- RCV (41%)
- Treatment (19%)
- MRF (8%)
- Transfer station (8%)
- Skips (6%)
- HWRC (6%)
- Workshop/maintenance (4%)
- Other (3%)
- EfW (1%)
- Composting (1%)