In an age when recycling and energy efficiency has risen to the top tier of national agenda concerns, there’s an almost fearful symmetry about the way the Refuse and Salvage industry has also become known for the increase in accidents, fatal injuries and resulting accident claims cases.
A 2011-12 RIDDOR report shows that 495 major injuries, which occurred in Waste Collection, treatment and disposal was up from 482 in 2010-11, rising from an estimated average rate of 397 in 2004/5. In the intervening five year period, while slips and trips accounted for 35 per cent of all injuries, and being hit by moving objects was 14 per cent, accidents involving being struck by a moving vehicle were 7 per cent.
The problem is further illustrated by RIDDOR figures for the same 2011-12 period showing that on average, 4 in 10 non-fatal accident injuries in the workplace involved a moving vehicle. In far too many cases, failure to observe strict safety procedures and lack of manned supervision are found to be the cause.
One recent example saw a 61 year old driver suffer multiple serious injuries at a Bolton paper recycling plant when he was crushed between two trucks. The incident took place after the driver had completed unloading and had left his cab to close the rear doors by operating two buttons located on the side of the vehicle.
At the same time, another truck reversed into the warehouse through a separate doorway, trapping the driver between both vehicles. As result, the driver suffered fractures to the ribs and right collar bone, a punctured right lung and multiple bruising.
A Health and Safety Investigation (HSE) found that the company had failed to enforce its own procedures, which meant that no separation barriers were in place as vehicles entered through different doors, nor was a supervisor present to alert drivers as to when it was safe enter the site. HSE also found that it was “common practice” for two vehicles to be in the warehouse at any one time.
Subsequently, the paper recycling firm was found guilty of breaching the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 by failing to make sure the site was safe for vehicles and pedestrians, and fined nearly £130,000 including costs.
Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states: "Every workplace shall be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner."