According to provisional figures compiled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in June 2011, waste and recycling is currently the most dangerous industry to work in.
Five years ago there were seven fatal injuries per 1,000 workers in the waste and recycling industry but this figure has now risen to 8.7 deaths. Nine deaths were recorded in the industry during the period April 2010 to March 2011.
• Waste and recycling
Peter Woolgar, HSE’s head of waste and recycling, said: “The fact that nine people failed to come home safe and well from their jobs last year is a stark reminder to the industry that it still has a long way to go.”
The data shows that across all industries, there were 171 workplace fatalities in 2010/11 compared to 2009/10’s record low of 147.
Roger Bibbings, occupational safety advisor with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) called the rise in the number of fatalities “disappointing”.
Mr Bibbings said: “These figures show that continuing efforts in health and safety are required.”
The safety expert was particularly concerned that nearly half 2010/2011’s fatalities have occurred in two sectors – agriculture and construction.
Construction has the highest number of fatalities for the year (50, with a rate of 2.4 deaths per 1,000 workers). The life of a construction worker can be extremely hazardous – with fatalities involving electrocution, being hit by falling objects and being trapped underneath vehicles appearing in the HSE statistics.
The agriculture industry suffered fewer fatalities than the construction industry (34) but had the second highest rate (8 deaths per 1,000 workers).
Incidents involving fatal accidents in the sector included one in which a man was struck by a bale, one in which a man struck his head after being knocked to the ground by a bull and one in which a man was trampled to death by cattle.
• Other industries
Of the other main industries, manufacturing accounted for 27 fatal injuries (1.1 deaths per 1,000 workers) while in the services sector there were 47 fatal injuries (0.2 deaths per 1,000 workers).
• Tip of the iceberg?
Roger Bibbings of Rospa linked the rise in the fatality rate to major cuts in the health and safety budget.
He said: “Tragic as they are, notifiable fatal injuries are only the tip of a much larger iceberg; at least twice as many workers are killed on the roads while driving as part of their job; and thousands of workers are continuing to die annually from past exposure to hazardous agents such as asbestos.”