The waste and recycling industry accounts for only about 0.5% of the employees in Britain, but 2.6% of reported injuries to employees (2.2% fatalities, 2.6% major/specified and 2.7% of over-seven-day injuries) according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics for 2013/14. These statistic include four fatal injuries to workers and one fatal injury to a member of the public.
Representatives from the waste management and recycling industry have come together to form the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum. The aim of WISH is to identify, devise and promote activities to improve industry health and safety standards. One of the latest outputs of the group is a free, practical guide to help organisations take a proactive approach to health and safety through a collection of checklists illustrated with cartoons. The guide is available to download from the WISH Forum page on the Waste Management and Recycling section of the HSE website (click on the heading: “Delivering the Solution together”). Hard copies of the pocket-sized spiral bound guide are available via Susan Relf at [email protected]
Keeping on the right side of the law
Ensuring your site is compliant is important both from a health and safety perspective as well as an environmental perspective.
It is important to note that from 1 July 2014 new sentencing guidelines on environmental offences came into force to ensure a consistent approach in courts across England and Wales. The guidelines aim to ensure that the level of fines reflect an offender’s ability to pay and have a real economic impact to provide a stronger deterrent from re-offending. The guidance document is available to download from www.sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/sentencing-guidelines.htm
The guidelines cover a variety of offences related to:
• the unauthorised dumping of waste (fly tipping)
• waste handling or disposal offences causing pollution or harm to people’s health
• breaches of environmental permits
• ‘nuisance offenders’, eg, excess noise, smoke, dust or odours
Ignorance of your organisation’s obligations under environmental legislation is not a valid excuse.
There are specialist insurance policies designed to provide cover should the worst happen and the organisation faces prosecution and/or costs associated with clean-up operations and compensation. However, the insurer will understandably require that appropriate risk management policies are in place, and that the site is compliant with all current regulatory requirements: health and safety and environmental.
Compliance and training
Employers have a duty of care to keep employees safe and protect the environment.
Does your company have the relevant permits for its current operations? Do you have a health and safety policy in place? Are staff appropriately trained? Do you undertake regular risk assessment reviews? These are all factors that will be pertinent should an incident occur.
Formal qualifications, such as the WAMITAB Level 4 Diploma in Waste Management Operations will provide the general underpinning knowledge about managing a waste/recycling site as well as specialist knowledge based on the pathways selected. This forms part of the CIWM/WAMITAB Operator Competence Scheme, which includes a requirement for the designated technical competent manager to keep their skills up to date by successfully completing the Continuing Competence test every two years.
Short training courses can also be useful, for example, the DASH programme, available through WAMITAB, provides industry-specific training to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for waste management activities.
In May 2014, WAMITAB launched Validate, which is a work-based assessment tool with a strong health and safety focus that offers an easy to use process to audit the competence of staff and identify any training needs.
Stay safe, stay legal and stay in business.