the 3 key steps to staying safe in the waste disposal industry feature image

The 3 Key Steps To Staying Safe In The Waste Disposal Industry

Posted on 7th Nov, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

Health and safety in the waste disposal industry is a hot-button industry topic right now, with the Health and Safety Executive highlighting it as an area of particular concern. Throughout 2016, official documents released by the HSE note that there were around 6000 cases of work illnesses, which equates to almost 5% of the total workforce (the average for other industries is close to 3%).

In light of the significant media attention the subject is currently getting, at Browns Safety we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight some of the easiest ways to keep workers safe in the health and safety industry.

These key steps include:

  1. Exercising control over machinery and working processes
  2. Giving workers proper training and instruction
  3. Providing appropriate Personal Protection Equipment

So without further ado, let’s examine it all in a little more detail.

Maintaining A Safe Working Environment

working in scrap yard

Industrial locations like those found in the waste processing and recycling industry need to be under constant supervision and examination to ensure that they provide the safest working environment for workers. This covers, for example, making sure that all machinery, conveyor lines and other technology is all well-maintained and working to its maximum capability, so that it doesn’t pose a risk to employees.

What’s more, employers should consider their working practices, and proactively look for ways that they can minimise the dangers that workers are exposed to. For example, it’s always worth thinking about how to make the waste storage processes safer and more efficient for the most harmful types of waste, minimising its exposure for employees.

Ensuring Proper Training And Instruction For Employees

safety briefing

It’s not enough to improve your working practices unless employees know to follow them. In order to maintain maximum physical and environmental safety, everyone must work as a cohesive team, and the first step to making sure of that is by providing proper training and instruction. ‘On-the-job’ training, while admittedly saving time, is often far from sufficient when dealing with heavy machinery or potent bacteria, as many employees in this sector often are. For example, employees shouldn’t eat, drink or smoke with dry hands if they’ve been handling waste.

Sickness is also a particular problem in the industry due to the nature of the illnesses, and no employee should be made to come into work if they’re not feeling well – bugs from handling waste can temporarily reduce even the hardiest of workforces to a skeleton crew overnight. It’s your duty as an employer to make employees aware of these risks, and how they can avoid them.

Providing Appropriate PPE


As touched upon above, the waste and recycling sector is one of the most dangerous industries to work in, but you might be surprised at just how much of that danger can be negated by the simple expedient of providing suitable personal protection equipment. We’ve split these risks up into several easily digestible categories:

Physical protection

Workers can suffer from leg impacts, crushed toes and feet, and commonly hand injuries from the waste they process. For this reason, employers should provide safety boots with a protective toe cap, suitable heavy-duty trousers, and safety gloves, gauntlets and protective sleeves to shield workers from injury.

Protection from the elements 

The British climate can seem exceptionally grim at times to employees who spend their working lives outdoors – not only can it cause discomfort and a reduction in morale, but can even pose some tangible threats to safety. Employers should provide waterproof boots to prevent wet feet; as well as being uncomfortable, if left unchecked it could even lead to Trench Foot.

Other waterproof clothing is also necessary, as the wet and cold can lead to illness, hyperthermia, and a reduced level of concentration. This last effect can be exceptionally dangerous, if employees are operating machinery or working on a high-traffic site. To combat cold, it’s best that employees wear several thin layers of clothing, including thermal vests and tops.

Here at Browns Safety, our dedicated team of experts is fully committed to guaranteeing your safety, whether you work in the waste and recycling sector or not. To that end, we provide a number of safety courses, which educate delegates on subjects like Legionella and Asbestos Awareness.

You can book your place on one of these courses by visiting its respective page, or by calling us on 01282 615517. We’re here to help!

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