In September 2017, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released its sector plan for increasing safety in the waste and recycling industry, including the intention to reduce fatal injuries from moving vehicles and musculoskeletal disorders and lung disease among employees.
The plan, which was released on September 18th 2017, addresses serious safety risks within the waste and recycling sector. This sector currently employs over 130,000 workers*, and remains one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK. It has a fatal injury rate that is almost ten times higher than the industry average. In the year 2016/17, the HSE stated that 14 people were fatally injured, a figure that was considerably higher than the previous year – when there were only 6 deaths.
The HSE also stated that in the five years leading up to March 2016 there were 12 fatalities to members of the public as a result of work activity within waste and recycling, with most deaths to both sector workers and members of the public being caused by moving vehicles or machinery.
The HSE plans to prioritise the reduction in the amount of cases of people killed by moving vehicles and machinery, and encourages the industry to take ownership of the challenges and take the lead on implementing solutions.
What is the HSE planning?
The HSE plans to minimise risk using two approaches:
- Engaging others to improve workplace health and safety
- Ensuring effective management and control of risk
Ensuring effective management will involve working closely and sharing information with other regulators. These will include local authorities, National Resource Wales, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and also the Environment Agency (EA) – with whom the HSE carried out legislation compliance checks on waste sites in the North East in early 2018.
The HSE will also be directing inspection activities and enforcement activity on risks posed by moving vehicles, engaging manufacturers of work equipment to design safety risks, and to help SMEs to manage their health and safety proportionately and sensibly.
To improve workplace health and safety, the HSE focuses on encouraging further engagement and promotion for the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum, a multi-party group of organisations representing the waste and recycling industry, that provides easy access to waste related health and safety guidance.
How will the HSE ensure the plan’s longevity?
The HSE has also proposed a review of key health and safety challenges that are faced by the sector in order to continue improvements. This will be proposed through identifying new problems, solutions and further interventions, while readjusting underused solutions. They will also adapt flexibly to new technology, ensuring that stakeholders commit sufficient resources to allow their activities to function effectively and safely.
Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM), Dr Colin Church, welcomed the plan. He commented:
“Improving the industry’s health and safety record is one of CIWM’s top priorities and we are keen to support the priority actions outlined today by the HSE for the waste and recycling sector. In addition to hosting the new Waste Industry Safety & Health Forum (WISH) website, launched earlier this year to provide a one-stop-shop for all WISH guidance, CIWM is working on a number of fronts to change behaviour, improve performance, and share good practice across the sector, including an initiative in 2018 to raise awareness around personal responsibility for health and safety in the workplace.”
HSE’s 2018/19 inspection programme
The HSE are currently visiting and inspecting all recycling sites. The Waste & Recycling sector has one of the highest rates of workplace injury and work related ill-health of all the main industry sectors. This is a long-term intervention aimed at delivering sustained industry improvements in risk control particularly transport.
Are you ready?
Increasing awareness and improving site safety are key components of the ZoneSafe philosophy, and implementing their safety applications can drastically improve a workplace’s safety culture.
ZoneSafe Proximity Warning and Alert Systems do more than just give industrial vehicle drivers (such as forklift trucks, reach stackers or excavators) an alert to a pedestrian worker close by.
Over the years, the standard ZoneSafe system has been developed and re-engineered to include new applications and systems such as personnel and vehicle access control, walkway and crossing alerts, and asset protection.
One of the most interesting comments from clients who use ZoneSafe is not just how well the system works but that the safety culture and environment drastically changes within a work site. Rather than taking that shortcut across the yard, pedestrian workers don’t want to set the proximity alarm off on a vehicle so they automatically give the vehicle a wide berth. This makes for a much safer work site as the pedestrian worker starts to automatically work safer as second nature, perhaps even becoming ‘zone safe’.
For further information about ZoneSafe, click here.