HSE Guidance Waste Management and Recycling

The waste and recycling industry employs approximately 140,000 people. The fatality statistics are not good reading. 71 people have been killed at work in the waste and recycling industry in the last 8 years.



There have also been 19 members of the public fatalities, 60% of which were people struck by moving vehicles.




That is a tragic total of 90 deaths in 8 years.


The information in this post are courtesy of HSE statistics report.  The full report is available from the HSE website:



The table below gives summary totals by year

Fatality Totals
Year Employee Public
2004-05 10 1
2005-06 14 4
2006-07 8 3
2007-08 8 3
2008-09 11 2
2009-10 3 3
2010-11 11 2
2011-12 6 1
8 Years 71 19

The downward trend is positive. However vigilance is needed to ensure high levels of safety and avoidance of accidents is given the highest priority.

The increase in materials recycling and levels of mechanisation have had an impact on the levels of injury and fatalities. For the last 5 years the fatalities have shown a downward trend. However the major injuries have stayed in the 500 incidents per year and the 3 day absence reports to RIDDOR have stayed in region of 2000 instances per year.


Fatality Major Injury 3 Day absence
Hit by moving vehicle 29% 7% 3%
Contact with moving machinery 8% 6% 2%
Hit by something fixed or   stationary 6% 3% 3%
Hit by moving/falling object 6% 14% 10%
Slip/trip/fall 3% 46% 31%
Handling 0% 12% 45%

Ill health

About seven thousand or 5% of workers in waste and recycling suffer from a self-reported illness caused or made worse by their current or most recent job. This includes new and longstanding cases of illness (prevalence).

Awareness of risk and training of staff is vital for safety within the industry.

We all need to keep safety at the top of every agenda.


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