Waste sector fatalities more than doubled in 2014/15

Eleven people, including six members of the public, were fatally injured in the waste and resources sector in 2014/15, new figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have shown.

Waste sector fatalities more than doubled in 2014/15

According to the provisional ‘Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2015’, released by HSE yesterday (1 July), 11 fatal injuries were reported to the safety agency between April 2014 and March 2015. This marks a 120 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of deaths reported to the HSE, as 2013/14 saw five fatal injuries occur in the sector.

The rise has largely been due to an increase in the number of members of the public being fatally injured at waste sites, or by waste machinery.

In 2014/15, five workers and six members of the public were fatally injured, up from last year, when four workers and one member of the public were killed.

The figures only include those reported to HSE, and do not include other incidents, such as the December 2014 bin lorry crash in Glasgow that killed six people and injured 10 more.

Members of the public that were fatally injured in 2014/15 (as reported to HSE) included:

  • Gursawek Singh (33), Ben Farr (28), and Matthew Symonds (34), who were crushed in bins;
  • Edith Allen (87) and Nicola Berridge (54), who were struck by vehicles moving materials; and
  • Alan Harris (75) who died after falling 'from height' at a materials recovery facility.

Workers who were fatally injured last year included self-employed worker Edward Evans (53), who was electrocuted when the crane he was operating struck an overhead power cable, and Safi Qais Khan (29), who died after being caught in a machine at a waste processing site in Birmingham.

The statistics mean that the industry now sees around 4.31 deaths per 100,000 people employed in the sector (compared to the five-year average of 5.19).

Despite this falling number, the sector is one of the few that has seen rising incidents of fatal injuries in the past year, and accounts for nearly eight per cent of all fatal injuries reported to HSE.

The figures show that across all main industry sectors, 142 workers were fatally injured at work in the UK between April 2014 and March 2015 (a rate of 0.46 fatalities per 100,000 workers), up from last year’s all-time low of 136 (0.45 fatalities per 100,000 workers).

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt commented: “It is disappointing last year’s performance on fatal injuries has not been matched, but the trend continues to be one of improvement. Our systems and our framework remain strong as demonstrated by our performance in comparison to other countries.

“Every fatality is a tragic event and our commitment to preventing loss of life in the workplace remains unaltered. All workplace fatalities drive HSE to develop even more effective interventions to reduce death, injury and ill health.”

WISH blueprint

According to HSE, the waste and recycling industry is ‘one of Britain’s most dangerous sectors’.  

As such, it has published the ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2012-15’, which outlines 24 ‘immediate action points’ that employers can take to provide clearer training and safer workplaces. 

Key initiatives listed in the blueprint include:  

  • producing agreed safety leadership standards for the waste management industry and guidance on ‘what safety leadership looks like and how it is demonstrated’;
  • developing sharable training materials for promoting and enhancing worker engagement;
  • publishing case studies and real life examples of ‘the positive impact of improved workforce competence, including examples of industry best practice and the potential business benefits’; and
  • developing guidance and support on health surveillance (monitoring/screening).  

Read HSE’s provisional ‘Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2015 or its ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2012-15’.

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