Recycling and waste management has become big business over the last decade, with more pressure on councils to reduce landfill, more enthusiasm for reducing damage to the environment, and consequently more people now employed in the industry. At the same time, it has developed a reputation for poor health and poor safety. The graph shows that the rates for ill-health, injury and fatalities in the waste and recycling sector are amongst the worse in the UK. In the five years to 2016, 30 workers and 12 members of the public were killed by activities within the waste sector, making it worse than construction.
Of the twenty cases of Corporate Manslaughter prosecuted between 2011 and 2016, three were in recycling and waste. These cases are summarised below, with lessons learnt for waste – and for other industries.
Take Away Lessons
In addition to company and personal fines, the bad publicity surrounding a case (particularly when a publicity order is imposed) means that even when the immediate financial impact is overcome the organisation often does not survive – none of these companies are in business today. The people in charge will have suffered extreme stress because of their role in these deaths and the future limitations on their careers.
All of the failings listed are well understood and can be avoided with a structured safety management system which includes a process for identifying hazards, planning operations in a way that eliminates or reduces these hazards, and includes planned maintenance, supervision and inspections.