Leading officials at GMB trade union claim that health and safety investment in the recycling sector is necessary if the government wants to see an improvement in the nation’s recycling rate.
Justin Bowden, national officer for refuse and recycling workers at GMB, has said that “increased recycling has come at a cost” and that the waste sector is now the most dangerous in the UK for its workers, especially as the focus upon a greener environment and pressure from the EU to meet its targets increases.
Mr Bowden now believes that a government investment is crucial to ensure the safety of waste workers and to improve the recycling rates of underachieving councils. The EU expects a 50 per cent recycle rate to be achieved yearly by every local authority in England by 2020; at present, only 70 councils (out of 351) are achieving this target.
Dan Shears, GMB national officer for health and safety, believes that there is no reason why the waste sector should be more hazardous than any other, as the risks have already been assessed, but that safety investment is “simply about ensuring that councils and contractors give the time and the resources to follow the good practice that is already the case on many contracts.”
GMB would like to see councils investing in a larger workforce, more vehicles and appropriate equipment, and believe there should also be a general “sharing of expertise and knowledge” in order to make the sector safer than at present.
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