Five recycling and waste workplace fatalities in 2019/20

The waste and recycling sector saw five fatal injuries in 2019/20, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The latest annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20 released by the HSE show that while the total number of fatalities in the recycling and waste sector has fallen from seven deaths in 2018/19, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years has risen to 18 times the all industry rate, up from 17 times higher the previous year.

Although the figures revealed that the number of actual deaths in the sector is low, falling from a high of 14 deaths in 2016/17, the number of deaths and injuries as a proportion of the workforce is higher than in other sectors, with 7.1 deaths per 100,000 workers compared to 0.42 deaths across all industry sectors.

Across all industries, 111 workers were fatally injured at work in 2019/20, representing a fall of 38 deaths from the previous year and the lowest annual death rate on record at 0.34 deaths per 100,000 workers, though HSE has attributed this partly to the fall in economic activity brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and measures to contain it.

Following the release of the 2019/20 fatality statistics, HSEs Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “No one should be hurt or killed by the work they do. In these extraordinary times, we have seen many workers risking their lives to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. Although these statistics are not a reflection on Covid-19 related loss of life, it is a pertinent time to reflect.

“Every workplace fatality is a tragedy and while we are encouraged by this improvement, today’s statistics is a reminder that we cannot become complacent as we look to continue to work together to make Great Britain an even safer place to live and work.”

The HSE figures showed the spread of fatal injuries across all industrial sectors. As well as the waste and recycling sector, among those with the highest fatality rates included the construction and agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors, with 40 and 20 fatal injuries, respectively.

Moreover, the three most common causes of fatal injuries included workers falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (20) and being struck by a moving object (18), accounting for 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2019/20.

To address the high rate of fatalities in the recycling and waste industry, the HSE previously set out a health and safety plan to make work environments across the sector safer for employees.

Full workplace fatality figures for 2019/20 can be found on the HSE website.