Safety watchdog sets sights on waste industry

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has identified the waste and recycling industry as a priority area for intervention over the next few years.

In an exclusive interview with LAWR last week, HSE’s head of operational strategy Stephen Williams said that the waste and recycling sector had a very poor accident and ill-health rate compared with other sectors and needed to look at best practice in other industries to see how health and safety had improved.

Williams underlined the importance of recording near misses to raise awareness of health and safety among the workforce, and avoid more serious accidents happening in the future.

“The petro-chemical industry, transport industry and pockets of other industries have been doing this for a number of years,” he said. “What we want is for the waste and recycling industry to really look across other sectors, see what best practice is and learn the lessons.”

Williams said that the HSE would be promoting the importance of leadership and competence at all levels. He added that it was vital for frontline supervisors to raise awareness of health and safety risks before work commenced.

“The immediate and simple frontline assessment of work is extremely important,” he said. “Sometimes an incident can be no more than a near miss, which is very important as a warning and sometimes tragically the almost identical circumstances can lead to a fatal accident.”

HSE figures published in June 2011 show that nine workers were killed from April 2010 to March 2011, a tripling on the previous year.

A full interview with Stephen Williams is featured in the April 2012 issue of LAWR.

Nick Warburton

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