Ten fatalities were recorded among recycling and waste workers in the UK between April 2012 and March 2013, up from five deaths recorded in 2011/2012, according to new statistics from Health and Safety Executive, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.
That’s an average of 8.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 6 deaths per 100,000 in the past five years, says the HSE.
Chris Jones, chairman of the Waste Industry Safety and Health forum, says he hopes the boost in worker deaths was a one-off, and that the 10 fatalities are “likely to be an anomaly” (via LetsRecycle.com). He also said that injuries are a better measure of health and safety, and that overall, the industry is improving.
However, Graeme Walker, head of HSE’s waste and recycling sector, says that the increase in workers killed last year is “both disappointing and worrying as it represents a more than doubling of lives lost from the previous year.” He adds that though the number of deaths has fluctuated greatly year on year for the last five years (from just three in 2009/2010 to 10 in both 2008/2009 and 2012/2013), the industry “needs to make a concerted effort to end that cycle of yearly variations and bring about sustained improved performance year on year.”
In the same reporting period, there were three fatal injuries to the general public, according to the statistics.
In 2011, statistics from the US Department of Labor showed that waste and recycling collection was the seventh most dangerous job in the US, with 26 on-the-job fatalities in 2010. Sixteen of those were caused by transportation accidents; 8 of those deaths occurred on the highway, and 7 of those deaths caused by a worker being hit by a vehicle, writes Earth911. A 2012 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were 75 fatalities among workers in waste management and remediation services in 2011, up from 61 in 2010 and 54 in 2009, but down from 88 in 2008.