Two governmental authorities have joined forces to carry out surprise investigations into the working practices of North East waste firms.
The initiative, co-led by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was restarted this week after a previous series of inspections found multiple failings in numerous areas, particularly worker safety.
While the HSE last month announced its plans to target waste and recycling sites, commercial waste carriers were not directly notified.
Dubbed Operation Hercules, the campaign will scrutinize the measures and policies of firms that store, catalogue and process waste.
Operation Hercules: North East Waste Firms on the Back Foot
Because the sector suffers from such a high rate of work-related injury and ill-health, the government is calling into question many firms’ adherence to the requirements of their licenses.
Addressing the urgent need for the inspections, HSE inspector Victoria Wise said: “In the last five years 39 workers and 11 members of the public have been killed because of work activity in the sector. The main causes of death are people being run over or struck by a moving vehicle. A high number of workers in this industry are also exposed to processes that cause irreversible ill health conditions.
“During the last joint regional initiative HSE found all eight sites visited to be in significant contravention of health and safety law.”
It’s highly recommended that all North East-based waste and recycling firms schedule audits of their operations as a matter of urgency.
The move comes after a run of concessions granted the road haulage industry by the government.