On 27 November 2014, HSE and WISH Forum hosted a major summit to review the waste and recycling industry’s health and safety performance since 2013 and to agree future priorities and actions. Debbie Williams from Compass Management Solutions reviews the event and its outcomes.
The WISH (Waste Industry Safety and Health) Forum was established in 2001 by representatives from the waste management and recycling industry with the aim of identifying, devising and promoting activities to improve health and safety standards within the industry. This was the second summit held by WISH, the first being in February 2013 where the following five strategic themes were agreed:
• Provide strong leadership
• Involve the workforce
• Build competence
• Create healthier and safer workplaces
• Provide support for small and medium-sized employers (SMEs).
While the waste and recycling industry has grown significantly over the last two decades, the accident rate has consistently fallen. According to the Environmental Services Association’s annual reports RIDDOR injuries have fallen nearly 70% since 2003, while HSE annual statistics reflect comparable results.
The November 2014 summit provided an opportunity for WISH’s five working groups, formed after the first summit, to report back on their achievements since February 2013 and discuss new plans for the future. According to Chris Jones, chair of WISH, the event attended by 142 delegates “demonstrated the industry’s commitment and willingness to bring about positive changes”.
The keynote address for the summit was delivered by Judith Hackitt CBE, HSE Chair, who told delegates that while the waste and recycling industry was “the worst performing sector”, she had faith in the industry’s ability to help itself as “demonstrated by holding events like this”.
Historically one of the most difficult to reach industry groups are SMEs. In order to reach these the SME working group, chaired by Susan Relf and made up of volunteers from a wide range of industry groups, including waste management, skip hire, recycling and construction waste, has developed action plans during 2013-2014 to meet the four strategic goals set after the first summit. The following four tools have been created and launched, to be aimed at SMEs:
1. Pocket guidance, which aims to provide advice on the minimum legal requirements a business needs to have in place
2. A self-assessment checklist available via a mobile phone app, to give confidence that the business complies with legal requirements
3. Access to free resources (training, DVDs, guidance, toolbox talks, hints and tips) shared by organisations using the internet
4. Access to a network to create local groups for communication and networking.
During the afternoon of the summit, the SME workshop discussed how the four tools could be best targeted at SMEs and agreed action plans for the SME working group to deliver. It was decided that over the coming months waste groups should be established across the UK through Safety Groups UK; downloads of the self-assessment checklists should be counted; copies of the pocket guidance should be distributed through larger companies and hits to the WISH website should be counted.
Another of the highlights of the summit was the healthier workplaces workshop, led by Dr Peter Sykes from Cardiff Metropolitan University, who discussed the current and future challenges facing the waste and recycling industry, as well as health surveillance arrangements in the sector and specific actions that are required to promote good practice. The development of industry specific guidance regarding health surveillance requirements and procedures is currently under development by WISH’s healthier workplaces group and support for this guidance was generally welcomed.
This summit provided another example of the industry’s enthusiasm and commitment to meet the current and future health and safety challenges facing the waste and recycling industry. To find out more about WISH and get involved with the work WISH are accomplishing visit here.