ESA survey ‘positive’ but ‘attention’ on mental health needed

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) has published the results of its health and safety survey, which showed that 95% of respondents feel comfortable in raising safety concerns.

The survey published on 14 November forms part of the ESA’s aim to improve health and safety in the sector

However, the ESA said one area which needs attention is mental health support, with just 72% of respondents feeling mental health is promoted in the waste industry as well as physical health.

The survey comes on the back of a commitment from the ESA in 2020 to improve the sector’s record with the adoption of a strategy. This included a targeted 25% reduction in days lost by 2025.

This also included plans to survey people from across the industry to help “better understand how the industry is performing”.

Carried out in the summer the survey was promoted both within and beyond the ESA membership to obtain the views from as much of the waste industry as possible. It consisted of nine statements and respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with each.


Noticeable highlights were that 95% of respondents said they feel safe raising an issue, while 87% said training in the industry allows work to be carried out safely. A further 86% of respondents felt safe working in the industry.

On the other hand, the ESA said the survey did reveal a couple of areas that, “while positive, received less unequivocal support, with fewer respondents convinced that mental health is given the consideration that it deserves, while only 74% agreed that welfare facilities were adequate”.

Elsewhere in the survey, 86% said safety was increasing in the workplace, 85% said they are confident all incidents are reported and 82% said equipment provided is suitable and fit for purpose.

As outlined below, the lowest percentage of agreements was seen in mental health, facilities and awareness about health and safety.


ESA policy advisor, Stephen Freeland, said the results “are very encouraging and perhaps reflect a concerted effort made by many in the industry in recent years to improve health and safety”.

He pointed to the fact that  ESA Members have reduced RIDDOR reportable injuries by 85% since 2004 and, year on year, have achieved an injury rate consistently below that reported by HSE for the waste sector as a whole.

On mental health, he stated: “Looking at a few potential areas of improvement arising from the results, we recognised that mental health support is an area in need of additional attention and, prior to the survey, the ESA had already established a Mental Health Task Group which produced and distributed guidance to operators.

“The survey results also suggest that more work needs to be done on welfare facilities and ESA will work to promote the good work already produced by the Waste Industry Safety & Health (WISH) Forum in this area.”

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H&S Culture survey

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