The Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive are to undertake joint visits to waste sites in the North East to ensure regulations are being followed appropriately.
It is envisaged that the visits will lead to better working practices on regulated sites.
Thirteen sites were visited in a series of visits in the latter part of last year, with more scheduled as we move into the early stages of 2017.
The joint initiative has so far concentrated its efforts on sites that recycle, process or store waste metal, such as scrap vehicles and general waste metal.
There are a number of working processes and equipment used to strip, cut and burn waste to extract the key metal and components that could potentially be a health and safety risk to workers.
The visits are designed to ensure that the waste sites are operating within the conditions of their Environmental Permit to protect the environment and community, while at the same time making sure the health and safety of workers isn’t compromised.
The Environment Agency’s Ruth Tyson, Waste Team Leader, commented: “We manage our permitted sites every single day to ensure they are operating within the law, to protect the environment and to minimise impact on the local community.
“Health and safety is paramount when our officers are visiting sites and officers regularly contact HSE if they feel a site is unsafe.
“These joint operations are a really good opportunity to share knowledge with other agencies and mean we look at the site from different perspectives, ensuring any issues impacting on the environment and community can be looked at together with site safety.”
Inspector Victoria Wise from the Health and Safety Executive said on average, seven people including members of the public, are killed in the waste industry each year.
Ms Wise said: “The main causes of death are people being run over or struck by a moving vehicle or something unstable collapsing on them.
A high number of workers in this industry are also exposed to processes that cause irreversible ill health conditions.
“Joint operations such as this mean we can work alongside the Environment Agency to make sure those responsible for the sites are not exposing workers, members of the public and the environment to harm from the operations they undertake.”
The last round of visits found eight sites in significant contravention of health and safety law with seven Enforcement Notices served.
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