HSE to swoop on 500 sites in machine safety programme

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will carry out more than 500 unannounced site inspections after an “unacceptable number of fatal and serious injuries” in the waste and recycling sector.

The inspection programme will focus on machinery safety after an “unacceptable number of fatal and serious injuries” (picture: Shutterstock)

The regulator’s programme will cover the whole of Great Britain from now until March 2023.

It will target: (1) machinery guarding and (2) moving vehicles, referred to by the HSE as ‘workplace transport’. The HSE says these two issues account for most fatal injuries.

Data published by the HSE in December 2021 shows that 30% of fatal workplace injuries in the waste sector between 2016/17 and 2020/21 occurred after contact with moving machinery.

The regulator said the inspections would “reinforce” their messages about selecting the right machine for the job, optimising processes to reduce the need for “interventions” and ensuring safe lock-off and isolation when necessary.

The programme follows the publication of two safety documents, WASTE 29 and WASTE 33, by the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum in August (see letsrecycle.com story). Each is endorsed by the HSE.

WASTE 29 covers the isolation and lock-off of waste and recycling machinery, while WASTE 33 covers the principles of machinery safety in recycling and recovery plants.

The two overarching machinery safety documents are supported by three machine-specific information documents from WISH, the HSE says, covering conveyors, trommel screens and horizontal plane balers.


During the unannounced visits, inspectors will assess the sites’ specific risk control systems and the “adequacy” of health and safety management arrangements for machinery and workplace transport, a spokesperson for the HSE told letsrecycle.com.

It would be helpful to ensure that waste sector employees are aware of the inspection programme

  • HSE spokesperson

Inspectors will also identify any measures required to control specific risks or manage health and safety, “to promote sustained compliance and take appropriate action, including enforcement.”

The HSE said it would undertake enforcement in line with the Enforcement Policy Statement and the Enforcement Management Model where inspectors identified non-compliance.

“It would be helpful to ensure that waste sector employees are aware of the inspection programme, that there is a potential for a visit by a HSE inspector and that any relevant legal documents are in order and easily accessible,” the HSE spokesperson said.

Fatal injuries

According to data published by the HSE earlier this year, the waste and recycling sector’s fatal injury rate was 11 times as high between 2017/18 and 2020/21 when compared to the average across all industries (see letsrecycle.com story).

The HSE spokesperson added: “Waste and recycling is considered to be a high risk sector by HSE. It has one of the highest rates of workplace injury and work-related ill-health across all industries.”

However, the sector recorded just one fatal injury in 2021/22, the lowest figure for the past six years.

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