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People, Health & Safety

Health & Safety Background

ESA and its Members are committed to achieving a more sustainable future for the waste and secondary resources management industry. This includes having a highly skilled, competent workforce, high management standards for health and safety, and also the protection of workers' health.

In 2004, ESA and the Health and Safety Executive launched an Accident Reduction Charter which aimed to reduce the incidence rate of accidents reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations by 10% every year. ESA's commitment to the Charter was strengthened with the launch of a sectoral Health and Safety Strategy setting out the industry's health and safety goals and the activities required to meet these goals within a clear timetable.

Since the launch of our Charter, ESA's Members have reduced accidents by over 65%. In 2008, the Charter was revised to include further year-on-year accident reduction targets until 2013.

The Issues

The waste management industry is undergoing significant transformation, from its reliance on disposal in landfill to much higher levels of recycling and recovery. This transformation is requiring increasingly sophisticated systems for waste collection, handling and processing, which can pose additional operational risks and hazards. It is vital that employees have the skills and competencies they need to manage these increasingly complex systems.

Many of these hazards could be addressed by a public procurement process which 'designs in' health and safety considerations. ESA has long called for health and safety to be an integral part of local authorities' responsibilities in the design, procurement and management of waste services. If designed in at an early stage of contract preparation, the potential risks faced by the public and the contractor's workforce can be addressed and reduced.

The contractor is responsible for the provision and for the day-to-day operation and delivery of the service. However, the contractor and local authority share responsibility for health and safety and local authorities need to provide a clear framework through the procurement and contract management process that supports the contractor in delivering their responsibilities.

ESA Policy Recommendations

  1. Policies to encourage further rates of recycling should give full consideration to the health, safety and welfare implications for the public and ESA Members' employees.

  2. Public waste management contracts must be compatible with good health and safety operations, whilst budgets, delivery and procurement methods must prioritise health and safety.

  3. The Health and Safety Executive should target its enforcement activities in the sector appropriately and is should be properly funded to support the health and safety initiatives ESA is leading in the industry.

  4. Closer co-operation should be fostered between the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency to reduce instances whereby the Agency's regulatory requirements could prove detrimental to health and safety.

  5. Government should ensure that the education and training sector is appropriately equipped to provide the industry with potential employees who meet the increasingly technical requirements of the waste management sector.

Health and Safety Guidance

ESA will continue to play its part in improving health and safety and aims to promote best practice. Efforts to deliver a more integrated approach are provided, in part, by the Waste Industry Safety & Health (WISH) Forum – a committee formed of representatives from the waste management sector - which with HSE and others produces industry good practice and health and safety guidance

In conjunction with HSE and WISH, ESA has issued the following guidance.

Machinery lock off guidance