Health and safety guide for composters issued

The Association for Organics Recycling has published a health and safety guide for composting site managers in a bid to reduce the risk of incidents in the sector.

The Health and Safety at Composting Sites: A Guide for Site Managers was unveiled at the Associations third annual Health and Safety in Waste Management conference on Tuesday (September 25). The conference saw a range of speakers discuss the health and safety risks in the organics recycling industry and offer advice on how to reduce them.

The 69-page guide offers practical advice for composting site managers
The 69-page guide offers practical advice for composting site managers

In an attempt to address some of the issues relating to the operation of composting facilities, the 69-page guide offers practical advice to help managers make employees aware of their legal obligations and ensure that appropriate on-site procedures are implemented.

Jeremy Jacobs, managing director of AfOR, said: “I am delighted in announcing the release of the 3rd edition of AfORs guidance, titled Health and Safety at Composting sites. Given the alarming rate of fatalities within the waste sector in recent months, this publication highlights the issues facing site operators and what can be done to address them.

Health and safety needs to be treated as a primary concern by all if we are to overcome the poor image currently prevailing within the waste sector.”


The guide explains that the number of biological waste treatment facilities in the UK is set to substantially increase, meaning more workers will need to be employed, creating new challenges in occupational health and safety.

It builds on a previous health and safety guide for composters, which was published in 2004, but now includes information on updated legislation associated with noise, fire and machinery as well as the Animal By-Products Regulations.

Other areas the guide covers include:

  • The legal obligation of site managers;
  • Health surveillance of employees;
  • Consulting, informing and training employees;
  • Composting and bioaerosols;
  • Safe working practices relating to noise, machinery, vehicles, electricity, and animal by-products; and,
  • Personal protective equipment.


The publication of the guide follows a spate of deaths in the waste and recycling industry, which saw nine people die in 12 weeks over the summer (see story). While none of these occurred in the organics recycling industry, many of the fatal incidents involved machinery and vehicles, which are used at composting sites.

The guide has been endorsed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Wayne Williams, HM inspector for the HSE, said: The Health and Safety Executive acknowledges this guidance which has been developed by the Association for Organics Recycling (AfOR) to help those undertaking composting and relevant activities make health and safety improvements. The guidance may go further than the minimum you need to do to comply with the law.

At the conference, Mr Williams praised AfOR for its proactive approach in highlighting the importance of good health and safety practices throughout the industry.

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