UK: Fatalities in Waste/Recycling Industry Spark Alert

The U.K. Health and Safety Executive has issued a safety alert to the waste and recycling industry following nine reported fatalities in 8 weeks. In seven instances, the deaths stemmed from people being struck by a vehicle.

"The tragedy of these incidents must act as a stimulus for the industry to review its procedures," said Paul Harvey, principal inspector of HSE's Waste and Recycling Section. "Making sure that vehicle risks are properly controlled, wherever possible pedestrians and vehicles should be segregated, paying special attention to transfer stations and sorting areas. Street collection activities need to address the risks to collection staff and other road and pavement users."

Harvey added that using backing aids such as mirrors, CCTV, detectors and beacons reduce the risks.

"In most public access areas you will usually need to provide [an additional employee whose job it is] to help the driver and prevent or warn pedestrians entering maneuvering areas when the risks cannot be controlled adequately by other means," Harvey said.

At press time, HSE was investigating nine deaths that occurred since Dec. 21. They included a Feb. 21 incident in which a forklift operator was crushed when the vehicle overturned at a scrapyard in Lowestoft, Suffolk; the Feb. 2 discovery of a dead boy inside a wastepaper-compacting machine in Birmingham; and a Jan. 30 incident in which a sanitation worker was run over by his own vehicle while collecting garbage in Morpeth, Northumberland.

HSE has developed specific guidance with the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum, available from the HSE Web site at. HSE's workplace transport pages on the Web site also provide guidance in this area.

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