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Blog March 2023 Updated March 2024

HSE is targeting the waste & recycling sector – here’s how to build a safety culture

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Lara van Rijswijk

Head of Marketing EMEA & ANZ

What’s wrong with the waste & recycling industry?

Back in 2018, research explored how human factors contributed to fatalities in the waste sector. Researchers reviewed 18 of the 58 fatal incidents between 2008 – 2009 and 2013 – 2014. What they found was poor safety culture in two-thirds of fatalities. 

Fast forward to today, and the UK regulator HSE is targeting the waste & recycling industry. The reasons are understandable: the sector employs only around 0.3% of Britain’s workforce, yet it’s one of the most high-risk industries for work-related ill health and injuries. 

You can read the ugly statistics yourself in HSE’s Waste Statistics in Great Britain, 2022, published at the end of November, but we’ll give you a snapshot here:

The fatality rate in the waste sector is 6.99 per 100,000 workers. That’s around 17 times the average rate across all industries. 

Before launching its enforcement inspection campaign, HSE handed UK waste and recycling companies an average fine of £232,000 per conviction in 2020/2021. They’re not done yet. For most waste and recycling businesses, health and safety is an afterthought. Therein lies the problem and why HSE is getting more involved. 

But keeping your workers safe is not only an issue of ethics, but one of good business sense.

Safety culture from a business perspective

When employees are healthy, your business runs smoothly. You’re better positioned to hit your targets. Injuries not only hurt the affected worker, but your company’s reputation. Attracting talent and new business becomes difficult. You might even have to suspend business due to incidents. 

Of course, we haven’t begun to peel back the layers of all the issues, but the consequences also include higher insurance premiums and possible fines. While those realizations put the problem in context, how are you supposed to address these points? The best intentions are worthless if they don’t result in worker safety. 

Building a safety culture must involve every employee, even your sub-contractors. Lacking a serious safety culture only exposes people (and equipment) to more risk.

What’s preventing you from enforcing a safety culture?

The vast majority of health and recycling companies handle OSH issues with paper-based processes. Excel sheets, post-it notes, sheets of paper – nothing is centralized, standardized or easily accessible. Some of your processes might even operate on uninspiring EHS software with gaps, ill equipped to provide what you need. 

How do you keep up with compliance? Is your training consistent across all sites? How are you mapping your risk assessments? Are all incidents recorded and reported? Who holds what qualifications for their roles and when do those qualifications expire? Are you meeting your safety KPIs?

If you need just one day to get back with the answers, then your processes, whatever they are, are disjointed, preventing you from planting, nurturing and seeing a culture of safety thrive.   

Fix that issue, and you’re on your way to building a strong safety culture. 

It’s time to digitize health and safety

There’s just not enough of you to go around to oversee everything. This is why you need to hand off your heavy workload to a digital solution – one configured specifically for health and safety in the waste and recycling industry. 

The right EHS software should do many things, including integrating with any software you’re already using. It should be driven by KPIs and give you everything you need in one user-friendly package to help you build a high-performing safety culture. 

No more silos. Everything is centralized when you digitalize, giving you one source of truth with total transparency into your operations. Your EHS software should consolidate every aspect of your OSH management, from regulatory permits and compliance requirements to risk assessments, monitoring reports and hazardous materials. Real-time reporting is a must not only for internal stakeholders, but relevant regulatory agencies, and governing bodies. 

But what would a digital solution mean for you?

For example: you can look at a role-specific dashboard and see an overview of tasks waiting for your attention – including priorities and responsibilities – incident findings, all documents and KPIs, visualized and easily accessible. 

Your EHS software should let you know if you’re compliant across all regions. It should hold all training instructions, enabling consistency across all sites – and those instructions should be accessible by employees, in their languages, no matter where they are.  

You should also have the ability to perform fully configurable risk evaluations to specific job roles and activities – even mapping risks to equipment. It should give you reusable templates and risk catalogues that enable more consistent and efficient handling. Offline capabilities would be helpful, too, so that teams can carry out assessments on the move.

The right EHS software enables intuitive incident reporting. In the event of an incident, reporting and observations can be done with any device so that you have consistent and standardized data for all relevant parties. 

This information, all in one place, isn’t just a matter of convenience. It gives you deeper insight into your health and safety rules. You can identify trends and revise policies and workflows as you see fit. 

This not only reduces incidents, but shows workers that you take their safety seriously, reinforcing the culture of safety that you’re building. This is what HSE wants to see in the industry. 

You can instantly call up the competence status of workers and check who holds what qualifications for their roles. This ensures the right people are doing the right job. Your EHS software should also help you manage hazardous waste. This is another way that you can lessen the risk to your workers – another way to strengthen your culture of safety. 

By now, you get the idea. 

Digitalization is not hard, but it is necessary

Digitalizing connects all areas of your business with each other. While there are other reasons to begin this journey – lowering operating costs, cutting fuel usage and driving time, just to name a few – our purpose here is to focus on your health & safety culture. 

Quentic EHS Software is a best-in-class, enterprise-grade solution that operates on the cloud. It scales with you. It seamlessly integrates organizational data, users, HR data, competence management and ERP data with EHS data to give you one, true picture of your operations. (Another important point: this is a European solution, so it’s GDPR compliant.)

Through digitalization – specifically, Quentic EHS Software – you can begin shaping and reinforcing the culture of safety that’s critical not only for your employees, but your company and HSE. 

Get the confidence that you’re compliant with local and global regulations. To learn about the efficiencies you can gain, also see Breaking down OHS silos: the efficient waste & recycling company.

Talk to us today about reinforcing your safety culture with Quentic EHS Software. You can also visit the website below to learn more. 

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