19th February 2018

New health and safety report: waste management industry isn’t performing consistently across the board

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A new health and safety report has revealed that the UK’s resource and waste management industry isn’t performing consistently across the board.

The report, conducted by the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice for the UK’s resource and waste management industry, studied the performance across the industry, which it says has contrasting results.

The association has been concerned for some time that health and safety performance widely varies across the waste industry, and that the reduction in injuries achieved by ESA members in recent years is not reflected across the whole industry.

The waste industry employs more than 80,000 people, with an annual turnover of £11billion. The sector is made up of firms that collect waste produced by UK households and businesses, treat the waste responsibly and turn it into new resources and energy for the nation.

One of the most hazardous aspects of the industry’s activities is the collection of waste from the kerbside, which is highlighted as being high risk. ESA’s data reveals that such activities accounts for nearly half of all injuries, with slips, trips and falls (from working in and around refuse collection vehicles) and manual handling injuries (when moving heavy waste containers for uplift) accounting for most injuries. Workers are also exposed to hazards and risks of working on the public highway daily.

These factors have resulted in a high injury rate for the waste and recycling industry with new technologies, techniques and working practices introducing new risks into the workplace.

Stephen Freeland, policy advisor for ESA, said: “HSE’s injury statistics for the waste industry continue to make for rather sobering reading. What is perhaps less obvious from analysis of these statistics is the wide variation that exists within the waste industry, with some elements clearly performing better than others.”

“ESA Members have achieved a significant reduction in injuries over recent years and our injury rate now stands at 577 (per 100,000 employees) which is three times lower than the injury rate reported by HSE for the waste industry as a whole (1801).

“ESA’s new health and safety report aims to bring this contrasting performance to the fore and offers a number of recommendations to ensure resources are targeted, and best practice widely disseminated, to ensure that everyone in the industry is working to the same high standards. “