Waste industry alert after nine deaths in 12 weeks

By Caelia Quinault

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)is calling for renewed efforts to improve safety in the waste sector, following a spate of deaths over the summer.

Nine lives were lost in separate incidents in just 12 weeks between June 2012 and September 2012, with half occurring in skip hire and waste transfer premises.

The waste industry is being urged to be more vigilant following a spate of incidents
The waste industry is being urged to be more vigilant following a spate of incidents

This comes despite no deaths being recorded in the first few months of 2012/13 and a sharp fall in deathsbetween 2010/11 and2011/12 (see letsrecycle.com story) .

Heather Bryant, HSEs operations director and lead for HSEs waste and recycling strategy, said: These fatal accidents should be stark reminder for all employees in this sector to check their controls on use of vehicles and equipment, and to make sure that staff are properly trained and supervised.

We will not hesitate to take action if we find evidence that lives are being put at risk.

Ms Bryant added that close attention needed to be particularly given to equipment such as compactors and skip vehicles.


Wayne Williams from the HSEspoke to letsrecycle.com about the figures at the RWM 2012 exhibition in Birmingham, where the HSE is giving advice on improving worker safety.

The figures were lower last year and we had hoped the downward trend might continue but we have had a spate of fatalities. It is important for employees to get systems in place and not be complacent”, he said.

There are familiar themes a lot of transport-related accidents and machinery-related accidents, a fall from height and the most recent incident involved someone who was in a bin.It isdisappointing as we have issued guidance on many of these subjects.”

“We will not hesitate to take action if we find evidence that lives are being put at risk”

Heather Bryant, HSE

In particular, Mr Williams said that guidance to prevent people who shelter in bins from being killed or injured was recently published, in 2010 (see letsrecycle.com story).

Mr Williamsadded thatthe waste sector would remain a priority sector for the HSE, despite government plans announced earlier this week to free other,low risk businesses from some health and safety red tape.

He said: Waste and recycling is a priority area for resources and will remain within the proactive health and safety agenda.


The nine deaths that HSE is currently investigating which have occurred since June 15 are:

  • 15 June 2012 – employee crushed when operating fork lift truck vehicle which overturned at waste site in Towcester;
  • 19 June 2012 – employee crushed between two vehicles at scrap metal site in Dudley;
  • 28 June 2012 – employee was struck by boom of JCB whilst he was working on top of skip at skip-hire premises in Wolverhampton;
  • 25 July 2012 – self-employed person died after falling out of bucket of excavator at skip-hire premises in Arundel;
  • 7 August 2012 – employee crushed by skip which fell on him at skip-hire premises in Kempton Hardwick;
  • 10 August 2012 member of the public run over by reversing refuse collection vehicle in Glasgow;
  • 17 August 2012 employee run over by wheeled loading shovel at waste transfer site in Watford;
  • 17 August 2012 employee trapped in waste compactor/baling machine at recycling plant in Batley, Leeds (subsequently died on 19 August 2012);
  • 5 September 2012 – member of public found crushed in refuse collection vehicle compacting mechanism in Wirral.

The HSE explained that sevenof the nine fatal injury reports received are likely to be recorded under the core 2007 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code 38, which covers waste collection, treatment and disposal activities and materials recovery normally used for official statistics. This number already exceeds the total number of five fatal injuries to workers (provisional figures) recorded for the whole of 2011/12 under the same code (see letsrecycle.com story).

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Guidance on how to comply with health and safety law is available free from the HSE website. This includes guidance developed by HSE with the support of the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum.

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