The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to again inspect hundreds of recycling and waste management sites following ongoing concerns about the sector’s poor safety record involving vehicles and heavy machinery.
The HSE initially ran a campaign of inspections from October-December 2017 after issuing a warning to the sector about the dangers of vehicles and machinery. This was in response to incidents such as the death of contract worker Austin Thomas at the UPM Shotton plant.
Inspections were undertaken at around 600 sites. Forty-eight per cent of these were issued with notices after inspectors discovered “uncontrolled risks” and 60% of all enforcement notices were for risks associated with machinery and transport.
Notices were served on both unguarded machinery and the “lack of ability to isolate machinery for safe clearing of blockages and maintenance”.
Transport-related enforcement notices included not segregating vehicles and pedestrians. Drivers were also found to be untrained, plant and vehicles were not maintained while others were examined to ensure they were safe to operate.
During the inspection period, an employee of Recycle Cymru died in an incident reportedly involving machinery, and a 23-year-old man died in an incident reported to be a baler at recycling company in Redruth, Cornwall.
The new campaign will again take place from October to December.
An HSE 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 improve health and safety in the industry, the whole industry needs to take ownership of these challenges, work together and demonstrate leadership on implementing solutions.”
This year has already seen a number of fatalities in the sector.
In April, a man was killed in a collision between two HGV lorries at a recycling plant in Bordesley Green while another man died on a textiles recycling site in Kent that was the subject of action by the HSE.