Fourteen people died from fatal injuries in the waste and recycling sector in 2016/17. This is almost double the annual average for the past five years, 8, and compares with 6 deaths in 2015/16.
While fatal numbers for the sector have fluctuated in recent years, this increase in the current year is largely explained by a single incident which resulted in 5 deaths in 2016/17, the HSE said.
The incident at a Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd in Birmingham (pictured) in 2016 resulted five fatalities after a partition wall collapsed.
HSE Chair Martin Temple said: “As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.”
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.”
Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate for the waste and recycling sector over the last five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.
The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that in total 137 workers were fatally injured in the UK between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.
There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers – they have halved over the last 20 years – although in recent years the trend shows signs of levelling, the HSE says.
Mr Temple went on: “Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks.”
The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.
There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.
A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017.
Mr Temple added: “We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”
“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”