The waste and recycling industry in the UK currently needs to consider ways of how to improve its current health and safety record, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). As a result, the organisation is planning an inspection blitz to try and improve the situation.
Materials Recycling World reported on the plans to intensify inspections in this area over the coming three months. These are likely to include unannounced inspections at sites across the UK.
The news provider revealed that inspectors will be focusing on how workplace transport is managed and machinery safety in particular.
There have been 39 fatal injuries among workers in the sector, as well as 11 fatal injuries among members of the public, in the five years to 2016-17. The news site also pointed out that HSE data shows that approximately five per cent of waste and recycling workers suffer non-fatal accidents at work, which is 1/3 higher than the all-industry average.
A similar percentage are recorded as suffering from work-related illness too, which is also higher than for workers across other sectors.
In total, 6,000 workers a year take time off work due to illness, with musculoskeletal disorders and stress, depression or anxiety cited as the most common conditions by HSE data.
Approximately 5,000 people in the sector suffer a non-fatal injury each year in the waste and recycling industry. Slips, trips and falls on the same level are the most common incident, followed by lifting and handling injuries and being struck by an object.
When it comes to fatalities in the sector, these are most likely to be caused by being hit by a moving vehicle, contact with machinery or being struck by an object.
Rick Brunt, Head of Waste and Recycling at the HSE, told the news provider that all those working in the sector should “refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance”.
“This inspection initiative will look at certain activities to ensure effective management and control of risk,” he asserted.
As well as refreshing everyone’s knowledge of essential health and safety procedures in the workplace, it probably wouldn’t hurt to refresh or attend some incident response training to help ensure your organisation is able to better plan, prepare and respond for incidents and emergencies, for the appropriate team members who are actively involved in providing response.
In September alone, there were some prosecutions brought by the HSE against waste and recycling companies for health and safety breaches.
The most recent was the prosecution of a Bedfordshire company, which was fined £100,000 after two of its employees suffered serious burns in an explosion while processing flammable aerosol containers.
Meanwhile, another was fined £34,000 after one of its employees suffered serious injuries to his foot while adjusting a waste shredding machine, and a separate firm received a fine of £30,000 after a worker was injured trying to remove a blockage from a trommel drum.
These examples illustrate not only how easy it is for employees in this sector to suffer serious injuries, but also the significant financial cost to businesses that let their standards slip.