Common human factors underlying worker fatalities in the waste and recycling industry

Research was carried out to identify common human factors underlying fatal incidents and to provide insights into possible options for concerted action to help reduce the likelihood of serious incidents or fatalities. The research reviewed 18 fatal incidents and included in-depth interviews with HSE inspectors involved in the incident investigations. Of these incidents, 12 were in ‘small and medium enterprises', SMEs (with less than 250 employees) and 6 in large enterprises (250 or more).
The research identified two priority human factors areas to tackle to reduce worker fatalities: equipment factors including design, use and maintenance; and safety management systems. For example, whilst it is foreseeable that some organisations (both SMEs and large) may think their SMS is adequate and well documented the analysis indicated this was not always the case.
The research also identified potential options for solutions to tackle these human factors issues. These options are intended to act as discussion points between the regulator and industry to inform decisions on what will work in practice and what can be adapted to work within industry. The options focus on: equipment selection, use and maintenance in the industry; and raising awareness of the risks associated with equipment and the legal requirements for equipment use and maintenance. Related to this is the need for effective safety management systems and the sharing of good practice.


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