More people will be killed in accidents at waste and recycling sites in Northern Ireland unless safety management improves dramatically.
That is the warning being issued by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).
The last six months have seen one fatality with several more people seriously injured in accidents caused by inadequate health and safety measures.
As well as causing one fatality, the accidents have resulted in one worker suffering severe burns and others losing limbs.
And the HSENI says with the accidents at work being under-reported, the industry is in the midst of a “shocking” and “alarming” situation.
Jim King, head of the HSENI’s Waste Sector Group, says he is appalled by the situation and warns that unless there’s a dramatic improvement in the way safety is managed, it will only be a matter of time before there’s another death at a private waste and recycling site.
Mr King says despite the HSENI and Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISHNI) striving to make improvements it appears some employers do not care about their organisation’s reputation or the safety of their workers.
Falls from a height are a big cause for concern
He is reminding employers that if there is a fatal accident at work, the incident will be investigated by both the HSENI and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
He says investigating officers and inspectors would begin by assessing whether there was a case for corporate or gross negligence manslaughter.
And he warns that the investigation could result in other health and safety charges being brought and leave businesses shut until the inspectors are happy that any risk to employees has been addressed.
The HSENI says a lack of training, falls from height, workplace transport, machinery guarding and visibility from vehicles are the main areas of concern at waste and recycling sites.
At the other end of the spectrum, firms that operate in the waste industry with a good safety record can gain recognition through WISHNI’s Ambassadors Awards scheme. There is also an HSENI-sponsored Safety in Waste award.
Accident Advice Helpline can help people make a claim for compensation when they’ve been injured in an accident at work. Call free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for more information.