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Waste Sector Fatalities

The number of workers in the waste and recycling sector fatally injured at work in the last year has more than doubled in comparison to 2015/16, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual figures, released this week.

The data, which is provisional, revealed that there were 14 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers between April 2016 and March 2017, compared to six deaths recorded in April 2015-March 2016.

HSE said despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around ’15 times as high’ as the all industry rate.

Overall, the industry data revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.

Despite HSE reporting a ‘long-term downward trend’ in the total number of fatal injuries to workers – which have halved over the last 20 years – the waste and recycling sector’s performance has been more variable.

The fatalities in the sector in 2016/17 include the single incident at Shredmet recycling in Birmingham on 7 July 2016 which resulted in five deaths.

As a result of the incident, the rise in fatalities for 2016/17 was predicted by Rick Brunt head of agriculture, waste and recycling at HSE.

Speaking at the Organics Recycling Group’s (ORG) annual Health and Safety in Waste Management conference last year, he said: “We already know that this year is going to be bad compared with last year.”

Mr Brunt added that further improvement was needed but that overly stringent measures and disproportional standards should be avoided.

Following the release of the 2016/17 figures, HSE chair Martin Temple said: “As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.

Further statistics published by HSE show that each year in the waste sector around 5% (estimated 6,000) of workers suffer from an illness they believe to be work-related; and, 5% (estimated 5,000) of workers sustain a work-related injury. The HSE has recorded 30 worker related fatalities over the last five years.

Mr Temple continued: ““Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks.”

“We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”

“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”

Source – – 6th July 2017.

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