The Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has been working on its blueprint for better risk management since a landmark summit in February. The final plan puts the focus on those areas where industry leaders agree action needs to be concentrated.

WISH’s plan outlines 24 immediate action points under five strategic themes – providing strong leadership, involving the workforce, building competence, creating healthier and safer workplaces, and providing support for small and medium sized employers.

Key initiatives include the industry developing its own leadership standards, publishing new training materials on successful worker involvement, and work with customers to use their leverage to promote improved competence.

Key figures from across the industry are being recruited to chair sub-groups to drive forward implementation the plan, which will be updated regularly.

The blueprint has the backing of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Its waste and recycling lead Graeme Walker called it an “important development” in the drive for improved health and safety in the sector.

“It shows the industry’s unequivocal commitment to reducing the number of people killed, injured or made unwell. We know from our experience in other sectors, such as construction, that long-term sustainable improvements rely on strong industry leadership and that is what we are seeing here,” he said.

Earlier this week the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) annual conference opened with the launch of a voluntary health, safety and welfare pledge, requiring organisations to go beyond the basic legal requirements and commit to doing more to make their workplaces safer.

The agreement is open to all companies and organisations involved in waste and resource management, including operators, local authorities, social enterprises, service and product suppliers and buyers, and regulators.

The industry has a poor health and safety record compared to other sectors, with 16 fatalities in the UK during 2012-13.

Last September the HSE issued a warning that efforts to improve worker safety within the industry had to improve, following nine deaths over a 12-week period.

Speaking at a waste industry health and safety conference earlier this year, HSE chair Judith Hackett, noted that even the sector’s better performers are poor when compared to other industries.

She said that a rational system of sharing best practice was the best method of eliminating persistent health and safety problems.

Maxine Perella

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