HSE urges waste management companies not to forget to control other serious health and safety risks when running their business while taking measures to reduce the chances of the COVID-19 infection.
Many waste companies are reporting lower than usual levels of sickness absence at the moment. Conversely, they are having near misses with a high potential for a serious accident and there is a perception that the workforce may be forgetting the ‘basic’ risks in their focus on COVID-19.
HSE has recently released its annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20 which show that waste & recycling still has a fatality rate 18 times that of the all industry rate. Transport and machinery related risks remain the main causes of fatality in the sector, whilst other prevalent causes of non-fatal accidents involve slips, trips & falls and lifting & handling.
Therefore, whilst monitoring precautions against COVID-19 remains important, employers also need to ensure that monitoring for compliance with precautions aimed at other risks also continues and is not degraded.
For example, monitoring for good traffic safety performance, such as to reduce the risk of employees concentrating so hard on Social Distancing that they step unaware into traffic. Or, employees being so focused on COVID-19 precautions that lapse in lock-off, work at height and other critical precautions occur.
For the management of risk (including COVID-19) in the waste industry visit the below links: