Rise in workplace injuries reported after data error discovered

Waste and recycling sector injuries reported to the Health and Safety Executive actually increased last financial year, rather than falling as first reported.

The error occurred when 314 waste management-related injuries were wrongly categorised under “Public administration and defence; compulsory social security”, because the injured persons were local authority employees. The 284 “over three day injuries” and injuries and 30 “major injuries” have now been put in the correct category: ‘Waste collection, treatment, and disposal activities, and materials recovery’. There was no difference in the number of deaths reported, which was five.

The error is mentioned in a footnote in the report, which will be corrected next year. The real figures show that, whilst fatalities fell (there were nine deaths the previous year), there were actually 13 more major injuries (such as loss of sight, chemical burns and dislocations) and 193 more “over-three-day” injuries (meaning that normal duties cannot be carried out, or absence from work is needed, for over three days) than in the 2010-11 financial year.

Across the whole sector, which includes remediation and waste management, and scrap wholesale, over-three-day injuries rose from 2530 to 2577. However, there was a decrease in major injuries, which fell from 588 to 553, fitting in with the overall downward trend in major injury rates in the past eight years: in 2004-5, there were 500 such injuries per 100,000 employees whereas last year, there were 398.

With 0.6% of Britain’s workforce employed in the sector, but almost 3% of all reported injuries and over 4% of fatalities attributed to the sector, it is clear that waste and recycling is a high risk occupation.

With a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, Recycling Lives takes health and safety matters seriously. Its comprehensive Health and Safety policy manual for all employees, “Work Safer, Work Better”, which is regularly amended and updated, covers every aspect of health and safety from dust and vapour hazards to stress. All staff at Recycling Lives must ensure that they are fully familiar with the procedures they need to follow in order to make sure they and their colleagues are safe, including reporting emergencies, and to comply with the laws relating to health and safety in the workplace. Every employee at Recycling Lives undertakes extensive introductory and ongoing training to support this culture of safety.

Recycling Lives’ award-winning Training and Development Department not only ensures that all Recycling Lives staff are fully equipped to work safely, but also provides top quality, accredited courses to other organisations under the leadership of Rob Jackson, Training Manager, who received the coveted Linda Ammon Award last year in recognition of his inspirational work. Recycling Lives also makes sure that there are people working in every department who are qualified to give First Aid, and seven staff members recently completed the one-day “Emergency First Aid at Work” course.

By following proper procedure and making sure that there is a culture geared towards health and safety in the workplace, backed up by essential training that is relevant to the job, Recycling Lives remains dedicated to minimising the risk of injury to all of its employees.