Health & Safety Inspection Campaign - Waste Recycling Operations

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The 1st October 2018 was the launch date for the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest inspection campaign focussing on the Waste and Recycling sector. Over the next three months, the HSE will be making a number of unannounced inspection visits to waste and recycling plants.

The Inspections

The unannounced inspections will see the assessors evaluate all aspects of site management at the plants and the control of risk by those in charge of the sites. They will be paying particular attention to the management of workplace transport as well as machinery safety. Inspectors will also be targeting a number of catalytic converter recyclers

It is anticipated that the inspection programme will see hundreds of sites assessed in response to the HSE’s continued concerns over the waste sector’s poor safety record involving vehicles and heavy machinery (Williams et al., 2018).

Previous Inspection Regimes

The role of local authorities in the procurement and management of municipal (household) waste and recycling contracts was subjected to a 4 year phased inspection programme by the HSE from 2010 to 2014. A summary of the findings is available here: .

There were 378 local authorities inspected as part of the 4 year long programme, 50% of which contracted out all of their waste services or part of them. As a result of the inspection initiative, 59 improvement and prohibition notices were issued and a range of shortcomings were identified with risk assessment processes and health and safety performance monitoring.

Press ahead to October 2017 when the HSE issued a warning to the waste sector on its concerns around how the dangers of vehicle/traffic management and machinery were being managed and they conducted inspections across circa 600 waste sites. 48% of those inspected were issued with notices for failings in these areas and this remains a priority area of focus for the Health and Safety Executive today (Williams et al., 2018).


The HSE will be hoping that this latest round of inspections will show improvements have be made since the last inspection programme was undertaken. Local authorities should familiarise themselves with the outcomes of the previous regimes and look closely at their own health and safety management systems at their waste and recycling centres to ensure the risks are effectively managed and addressed.

Further Guidance

The HSE provides free guidance on health and safety in the waste and recycling industry at their website:


Williams, C., Lockerbie, A., Williams, C. and Williams, C. (2018). HSE to re-run waste sector safety campaign. [online] Materials Recycling World. Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2018].

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