CHEM plays full role in setting health & safety standards

In the first of a regular series of features reporting on CHEM activities and initiatives, scheduled to appear in LAWE four times a year, the positive role that the Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association is playing in improving health and safety standards in the waste collection and recycling sector, is outlined by CHEM Technical Secretary David Buxton.


Prior to the Bomel Report of 2004 it is unlikely that many people considered that, compared with other industries, working in waste collection and waste transportation was a particularly accident prone occupation. However, the report, commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive, proved otherwise.

A detailed investigation and analysis of accident data showed that this industry had one of the highest rates of reportable accidents of any in the UK, despite the continuing efforts by local authorities and waste management companies to put in place safe working practices and effective accident reporting.

HSE had, for some time, been monitoring details of reportable accidents occurring in the industry and in 2001 invited the waste industry to form a group to discuss matters of health and safety in waste collection and transportation, separation, recycling and composting. From this the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) has evolved. WISH members are representative of all sectors of the industry including local authorities, waste management, composting, trades unions, training, equipment and vehicles, scrap metal, and recycling. The WISH Forum is chaired by Trevor Hay of HSE and meets at least three times a year at various locations around
the country.

The aim of WISH is to facilitate a reduction of injuries across all sectors of the waste industry through the concerted efforts of members to identify and tackle the key problem areas of slips and trips, musculo/skeletal injuries, cuts and sharps injuries, hazardous wastes and bio-aerosols and provide effective solutions through improved equipment design, best working practices, training and personal protective equipment.

Best Practice Guides
WISH has produced a number of Best Practice Guides covering topics such as sheeting/unsheeting of tipper lorries, safe transport in waste management and recycling facilities. Further guides, either in preparation or proposed include: civic amenity sites, manual handling in waste collection and stress and assault.

The Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association (CHEM), representing manufacturers and suppliers of all types of waste collection and transportation vehicles and static waste compactors, is an active member of WISH. As a result of discussions with HSE, or on members` own initiative, some significant contributions to improving the safe operation and use of waste collection vehicles have been made.
CHEM`s initial work on safety, however, goes back to the 1960s when the first CHEM standards for the interface of containers to the various types of lifting equipment and static compactors were introduced. These standards soon became accepted as the norm across the industry and have proved valuable in ensuring the safe use and handling of all types of container in conjunction with static compactors and vehicles. In addition, CHEM has produced a series of seven Codes of Practice for the safe operation of all types of collection vehicle, skip and hook loaders, ejection trailers and bulk transfer vehicles.

The introduction of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 required CHEM members to undertake further work on the health and safety front to assess the hazards and risks associated with the design and operation of the equipment they supply. Technical files were assembled, equipment tested for compliance, either in house or by an independent approved body and the CE label affixed, all of which assures the end user that the manufacturer or supplier has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that
the equipment is safe when used in accordance with the manufacturer's operating instructions.

Soon after the publication of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) regulations the European Committee for Standards (CEN) set up a technical committee tasked with drafting a series of standards covering Refuse Collection Vehicles and their Associated Lifting Devices and Waste Containers. The aim was to produce a set of standards which would, in effect, be an up to date and comprehensive assessment of hazards and risks associated with the operation of RCVs and include the general requirements and safety requirements to be considered in their design and operation.

European standards
Once published the standards become applicable in all EU member countries. However, the UK has retained its long held position that ride on steps at the rear of vehicles collecting household waste are unsafe and are therefore, by consensus, not available here.
CHEM members have contributed much to the drafting of the standards for RCVs notably through the expertise and time given freely by senior technical personnel from Dennis Eagle Ltd, Heil Europe Ltd, Trio Design & Engineering Ltd and CHEM`s Technical Secretary.

The first standard, BS EN1501-1, published in 1998, covered rear loaded collection vehicles and associated lifting devices. This has since been reviewed and redrafted as BS EN1501-1 for the rear loaded collection vehicles and BS EN1501-5 for the lifting devices and will be published shortly. The other standards in the series include 1501-2 for side loaded vehicles, 1501-3 for front loaded vehicles, 1501-4 for noise measurement and 1501-6 for electro-magnetic compatibility. One further working group is drafting a proposal for the standardisation of the electrical/electronic interfaces between chassis and refuse collection bodies.

There is no doubt of the benefits of having a common set of standards for Europe; equipment can be readily moved from one member country to another without the need to consider other national standards and, particularly with regard to the recently enlarged European Union, the operational problems associated with migrant labour are much reduced.

Skip and hook loaders
There are no European standards for skip and hook loader equipment and none are proposed through CEN. CHEM members have debated this and believe that much can be done to improve the safe use of these types of equipment by drafting a UK industry standard along the lines of those for refuse collection vehicles. This work is quite well advanced and final drafts will be available early next year and will be published initially as CHEM standards.

The benefits to derive from these standards will include a definitive and comprehensive analysis of hazards and risks applicable to the operation of all skip and hook loaders leading to common design solutions for controls, trap points, access and container interface.

In the past three years two major improvements have been made to improve the safety of skip and hook loader operations. Following reports of some serious accidents occurring during on-loading hook type containers it was found that, in some instances, it was possible for the hook to engage the crossbar instead of the hook bar and still raise the container from the ground. However, as the container was raised it would slide off the hook and crash to the ground. CHEM put out a technical bulletin at the beginning of 2002 calling for a deflector plate to be fitted above the hook bar and below the crossbar to eliminate the hazard. CHEM standard TS8 has been amended to call for the deflector plate. Another improvement concerns run away skip loaders.

Serious injuries had occurred when the rear stabiliser rollers were deployed to the extent that the rear wheels of the vehicle were lifted clear of the ground rendering the handbrake ineffective and the vehicle rolled down a slope. As a result CHEM members now specify chassis with front wheel parking brakes for applications where the skip loader is fitted with rear roller stabilisers. Coupled with this a handbrake interlock is fitted such that the PTO will not engage unless the handbrake is on. In cases where front wheel handbrakes are not available or are not required by the operator the skip equipment will be supplied with plate type rear stabilisers.

HSE has identified and will undertake 21 tasks covering a number of health and safety issues in waste collection and recycling. CHEM and its members will play their full part in the tasks that relate to their activities.

This short commentary demonstrates that CHEM and its members are committed to forming partnerships with HSE and others in the waste industry to further develop the safe design and operation of its products.

For further information on CHEM,
please contact: David Buxton, Technical Secretary, CHEM Tel/Fax: 01452 814812
or Email: valerie.buxton@virgin.net

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