safetyA blueprint for addressing the terrible toll of death, injury and ill health in the waste and recycling industry is to be published following a landmark summit.

Senior figures from across the sector met in Solihull to agree the key health and safety issues facing the industry and what needs to be done to tackle its poor health and safety record.

The event, aimed at building consensus and bringing together key players in the industry, was organised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum.

The plan will be published in April following ratification by WISH and will contain sections on leadership, competence, worker involvement, support for small business, and creating safer, healthier workplaces.

Giving the keynote speech to the conference, HSE chair Judith Hackitt said it was important to have a common understanding of the health and safety issues facing the industry. She said:

“We must work together to respond to the current challenges and drive improvements in health and safety performance, but improving the track record is not for HSE to resolve alone – industry must take the lead.”

Chris Jones, WISH chair and Director of Risk Management and Compliance at Cory Environmental, said:

“The theme of the summit was delivering the solution together. We have established now that there is a clear willingness and commitment to take action – now we have to stop talking about it and get on with making it happen.”

Reaction and comment – vox pops

“The industry’s record is not good. We are the leaders in the industry and we have to do something about it. We can’t leave it others. We all have individual and collective responsibility. Our journey will be a marathon and not a sprint. Yes, let’s get those quick wins if we can but we must all be prepared to be in it for the long haul.” John Skidmore (President, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and Head of Environment East Riding Council)

“The waste and recycling industry can be in no doubt that it has a long and difficult journey ahead if it is to reduce its poor accident record. The key people who can make this happen were at the event and heard first hand what they have to do. We will be judged by our actions.” Simon Catford (Corporate Responsibility and Regulatory Director, Viridor)

“It was a constructive and useful day. In particular, the workshop session raised awareness of the many differences of approach to health and safety. Even if only one person raised one idea that saves one life that would make the day worthwhile.” Tony Ward (GMB health and safety representative, Biffa)

“The summit was only the start of the process of Delivering the Solution Together, our work does not stop here. It is important we harness the commitment and energy shown and move forward together – we have a real opportunity to make a difference. We now have a common understanding that there is a lot more work to do to reduce accidents and ill health, combined with a willingness to work together to develop and deliver new solutions.” Heather Bryant (HSE Director, Southern Division and Waste and Recycling Strategy Champion)

“The stark statistics which surround our sector’s record on health and safety tell their own story. We as the industry, both public and private sector, need to take stock and react appropriately to this challenge. I can say that within the Environmental Services Association we have made progress in recent years. Working closely with the HSE and WISH, ESA members have collectively managed to reduce accident rates by 70 per cent since 2004. This shows the pattern can be changed, although there is still a lot of work ahead for all of us.” David Palmer Jones (Chair of ESA and chief executive of SITA UK)