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Tragic cases highlight need for safety focus in the Recycling Sector

Given the challenging nature of work, it’s no surprise that the recycling sector is classed as one of the most dangerous to work in, with HSE reporting one of the highest rates of workplace injury and work-related ill-health.

Unfortunately, these statistics haven’t been far away from headlines over recent months, with a number of tragic cases reported in recycling sector including:

  • Recycling company in Wolverhampton fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,641.62 after a worker was struck by a shovel loader and suffered life changing injuries in 2014.
  • Recycling plant in Lincolnshire fined £880,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000. Two senior employees were given suspended prison sentences after an agency worker was dragged into an industrial waste shredder and lost their life in 2013.
  • A worker tragically lost his life in November this year after becoming trapped in a baling machine at a plant in Cornwall.

Here, SHE Software’s Simon Cooke reflects on recent cases reported and discusses how the recycling sector can proactively minimise potential risks and help protect employees' safety in the workplace.

“The recent tragic cases reported really bring home why health and safety should be at the top of any board’s agenda. Every employee has the right to return from work safe, and employers should not underestimate their responsibilities towards their workforce.

Simon Cooke, SHE Software
Simon Cooke, SHE Software

“Although it is unrealistic to expect certain hazards and risks across industry to disappear completely, organisations need to make sure they have defined processes to evaluate risks and put control measures in place.

“Adequate safeguards need to be in place so new employees, contractors and temporary workers receive the appropriate level of training and employers need to ensure any qualifications are checked before workers are given access to a site or machinery. There needs to be a move away from a one-size fits all approach, especially where English may not be an individual’s first language. Safety information needs to be easily accessible and able to be understood by all.

“Management need to have confidence that they can easily access and have a real-time view of induction records, training records and insurance renewal dates across their entire workforce at any one time. They also need to systemically ensure that suitable and sufficient risk assessments are undertaken locally which reflect any centralised knowledge and experience gained whilst also being specific to local conditions or activities at a particular time and place. Visibility in these instances is key.

“SHE Software would certainly echo the sentiment that every worker has the right to return from work unharmed and only by gaining better visibility over risk and controls can organisations feel more confident in doing so. The risks and hazards in a sector such as recycling may never disappear completely, however employees have a legal and moral responsibility to minimise these potential risks and to safeguard employees.”

SHE Software

SHE Software has been delivering health and safety software solutions to a global customer base for more than 20 years. Our health and safety software solution, Assure, is now trusted by over 850 organisations with more than 500k individual users. Find out how we could help you effectively manage and improve your safety performance.

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