WISH seeks more ‘accessible’ health and safety guidance
According to the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum, a more easily-accessible and practical approach to safety guidance at work is the way forward.
Safety guidance documents are routinely kept up to date with a review every 18 months to account for developments in technology, procedure and experience.
Health and safety documents are reviewed every 18 months however, since 2014, WISH – which is made up representatives from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), local authorities and the waste management and recycling industry itself – has signalled a slight change in tack for how these guidance documents are presented.
Part of the review process involves ‘tidying up’ the documents, and, according to the chair of WISH Chris Jones of Cory Environmental, it’s now more about “accessibility” and letting people have quick access to vital information in order to save lives.
Where there were previously upwards of 25 guidance documents on specific subjects, following review processes some of these have been withdrawn and either replaced or consolidated with updated documents.
There are now currently 19 documents hosted on the WISH site, found here, covering a range of specific issues as dealing with landfill fires, operating materials recycling facilities (MRFs) and reducing noise from kerbside glass collections.
Chris Jones said: “Waste 4 – ‘Waste and recycling vehicles in street collection’ was not very accessible to people that we would want to be reading it.
That document in particular is being reviewed this year, taking into account lessons which can be learned from the Glasgow waste lorry tragedy in December 2014, which resulted in the deaths of six people.
Mr Jones explains that the document will be much more accessible: “What we are trying to do now is trying to create a thin piece of guidance that has all the principles and key points. Instead of having a document over 90 pages, we ended up with a much shorter document.”
WISH release the reports and progressively review and update them over time rather than waiting around whilst the guidance goes through multiple initial edits.
With the review process ever- ongoing, it means the work is never truly completed, but each document usually takes several months to review. For instance, WISH hopes its upcoming review of Waste 23 – ‘Safe waste and recycling collection services’ – will take around 3-6 months.
A working group from across the sector, consisting of private sector, local authority and collection vehicle management reviewed previous guidance and reiterated the need for quick, accessible information.
Chris Jones is aiming to make sure health and safety guidance is ‘useful’
Following restructuring, new documents show clear guidance and appendices featuring real-life case studies and more in-depth information that would have featured in the main body of the longer document prior to restructuring.
Originally owned by HSE, the guidance is now owned by WISH, triggering changes in how the documents are presented.
Despite this, all of the WISH documents still enjoy the same support and investment from the HSE as they always have, according to Mr Jones.
Mr Jones said: “We’re moving towards where we don’t just have to give stuff that is compliant – we can resource people with stuff that is useful. The guidance is aimed at being practical and demonstrating good practice.
“It is about saying this is good practice and here are some people who have done it through case studies.”
He added that the new document includes the safety principles and then how they have actually achieved it, through real life examples, a different approach to when the HSE owned the guidance.
Making documents shorter also means that more resources demonstrating best practice, such as training DVDs, can be attached.
Tony Baker, Head of Compliance at GPT Waste said:
“GPT are keen to work with Service Providers that have robust and effective Health and Safety arrangements in place for the waste collection and processing activities they carry out on our behalf. We encourage our Approved Service Providers to sign up to and have their H&S arrangements verified and continually audited by Safecontractor who in our view are the UK’s leading Safety Systems in Procurement (SSIP) scheme”. The guidance provided by WISH is an invaluable resource to any organisation providing waste collection and processing.