Updated Oct 18, 2022

HSE launch inspection campaign across the waste and recycling sector

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has started a targeted winter campaign of inspections across the waste and recycling sector.

The campaign on the "high-risk sector" will run from October 2022 to March 2023.

What is being inspected and why?

Waste and recycling is a high risk sector, with one of the highest rates of workplace injury and work-related ill-health across all industries.

The purpose of this inspection programme is to target machinery guarding and workplace transport at waste and recycling sites. Together, these two issues account for the majority of serious and fatal injuries in the sector.

The HSE has inspected the waste and recycling sector across a number of years, but are still seeing poor health and safety standards in key areas.

What is the extent of the problem?

Over the last five years, there has been an average of eight fatalities annually in the waste industry.

Over three quarters of all fatal injuries were related to transport, machinery and being struck by objects. The fatality rate is around 17 times greater than the rate across all industries per 100,000 workers.

There is also an estimated average of 4,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year over the last seven years. The main kinds of accidents involve slips and trips, lifting and handling and being struck by objects.

The top two priorities for this inspection campaign are to reduce the number of:

  • people being struck by moving vehicles;
  • workers being caught in moving machinery.

Workplace transport

Workplace transport continues to remain a key risk within the waste and recycling industry. Over a five-year period between 2016 and 2021, a third of deaths in the sector involved moving vehicles.

The key factors remain workplace transport arrangements on-site; and inspectors will be looking at the suitability and maintenance of vehicles, as well as the competence and management of drivers.

Machinery guarding and isolation

Machinery guarding and isolation also remains a major risk for the sector. Again, between 2016 and 2021, approximately a third of deaths in the sector were the result of persons coming into contact with dangerous parts of machinery.

The key factors are to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and the failure to develop, implement and supervise appropriate procedures for clearing blockages and maintenance (i.e. isolation and lock-off).

What will an inspector be looking for?

When visiting sites, an inspector could ask you:

  • what processes are carried out and equipment used?
  • are control measures adequate to manage the risks?
  • if control measures are not adequate, what are the specific control failings?
  • are there any management failings, such as policy, planning, information, training, supervision, monitoring, competence, leadership?
  • has there been there any safety guidance involvement?
  • has there been any material breaches or enforcement action taken?

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