New guidance is now available to help local authorities understand the importance of a sensible approach to health and safety when it comes to procuring and managing waste and recycling services, in a bid to help reduce death and injury.
The recycling industry has nine times more fatal accidents than the national average and four times as many workers suffer injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that a contributing factor may be that some local authorities are unclear what their legal duties are and mistakenly believe that putting a service out to contract relieves them of all health and safety responsibilities.
The new online guidance gives practical information on how to make health and safety an integral part of the procurement and contract management process.
HSE will be running a series of regional events giving LA representatives the opportunity to hear more about the guidance, share experiences with others and seek advice on potential management solutions.
Speaking at the first of these events, Judith Hackitt, HSE Chair said:
"Waste and recycling is a sector which is experiencing considerable growth as we all strive to do more to respond to environmental challenges. This makes it doubly important that we take action to respond to the fact that the number of accidents in this sector continues to be high, despite recent improvements, One of the keys to further progress is getting the client/contractor relationships working well.
"The guidance will help local authorities understand the full extent of their role when managing waste and recycling contractors. HSE wants to see occupational health and safety become an integral but common sense part of the specification, procurement and management of waste and recycling contracts."
Case studies of councils that are already working well with their service delivery partners in waste and recycling are also available online.
One such example is Wirral Borough Council which, working with Biffa Waste Services, has created a partnership approach to managing the borough’s waste and recycling services. The working relationship they have allows health and safety issues to be dealt with flexibly and efficiently. They have also built in checks to ensure the system is working correctly.
HSE will begin targeted inspections of local authority waste services departments later in the year. Inspectors will be looking closely at the working relationships LAs have with contractors and at any changes that have been made to improve the health and safety standards.
The new guidance and more details about procuring and managing contracts is available at www.hse.gov.uk/waste/services