30 October 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Work-related ill health ‘impacts 4.5% of workers’

Statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today have shown that around 4.5% of workers in the waste industry suffered from work-related ill health in 2018/19.

According to the body’s annual report, there were an estimated 6,000 work-related ill health cases (new or long-standing) in the sector, which is “significantly higher” than other industries.

As outlined in the table below, the waste sector recorded a 4.5% rate of work-related ill health per 100,000 workers in the 2018/19 financial year (April-March). The average for all other industries was 3.1%

This can include musculoskeletal disorders along with stress, depression or anxiety. Combined, these make up 75%.

The other 25% of work-related ill health include other issues such as skin or respiratory conditions.


The figures follow on from those published by the HSE in July, which outline fatalities in the sector (see letsrecycle.com story) as reported through the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

This showed that there were seven fatalities in the sector in the same period, representing a fall from the preceding two years, when the HSE noted 12 and 14 fatalities respectively.


For the latest report, the waste sector has been defined with reference to an “internationally agreed classification of industries” and includes waste collection, treatment and disposal activities and materials recovery.

HSE statistics waste

The figures follow on from those published by the HSE in July

It doesn’t include the wholesale of waste and scrap (including collecting, sorting, separating and stripping of used goods) as it is classified in the wholesale and retail trade sector.

Workplace injuries

Today’s release also looked at injuries suffered in the workplace, which differ from ‘work related ill health’ as they relate to incidents which take place at work, including lifting injuries, being struck by moving objects and falling from heights.

Looking specifically at the waste sector, the latest set of figures show that around 3.4% of workers (per 100,000) were affected.

This was below the agricultural, forestry and fishing industry but still significantly higher than the average rate of 1.8%.


Ashley Wild, the LARAC health and safety spokesperson, said the figures for enforcement are “alarming”.

He pointed to the fact that 553 inspections were completed with a 49% enforcement rate, meaning almost half of all HSE inspections resulted in enforcement action.

Sixty-seven inspections were a follow-up visit from a 2016-17 inspection, which resulted in an enforcement rate of 36%. Eighteen of these inspections highlighted that no action had been taken to resolve previous outstanding enforcement actions.

“These figures give a concerning picture of the current state of our industry and how we are still struggling to meet basic legislative requirements,” he said.

He added: “Another concern relates to the 26 enforcement notices issued for inadequate Welfare provision including the lack of toilet facilities. We are still struggling to maintain the most basic of facilities to our workforce even in 2019.”

‘Much to be done’

Speaking from a wider perspective in response to today’s report, Martin Temple,  the HSE chair, said:

“These figures should highlight to us all the vital importance of managing risk and promoting behaviours to improve the standard of good health and safety practice in the workplace.

“We must all share the responsibility of ensuring everybody is aware of what they need to do to work right”

Martin Temple, HSE chair

“We must all share the responsibility of ensuring everybody is aware of what they need to do to work right by preventing work-related incidents, and making our places of work healthier and safer for everyone.”


Health & Safety in the Waste & Recycling Sector Conference 2019

To find out more about what is being done to improve health and safety in the waste sector, letsrecycle.com is holding its annual health and safety conference in Leicester later this month – book your place now to avoid disappointment!

Date & Venue: 21st November 2019 | Stamford Court, Leicester Conferences



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