Waste management risks ‘must be tackled’

21 January 2010

21 January 2010 | Jake Kanter

UK local authorities must get tougher on health and safety in waste management deals, according to guidance.

The advice, launched online by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) this week, said avoiding danger must form an integral part of the procurement and contract management process for waste services.

It said failure to recognise risks in contract specifications could lead to problems when a deal is awarded. Purchasers should set out short-term targets for suppliers and describe how the authority expects the service to evolve, based on research of potential health and safety dangers. But it is important to maintain a balance, HSE said, as issuing overly detailed tenders can stifle innovation.

When evaluating bids, buyers should note whether vendors have health and safety standards in place, such as the British Standards Institution’s occupational health and safety management systems. This will show whether suppliers can manage risks and have the resources to run a deal efficiently and safely.

Once a contract is awarded, HSE said it was important to develop a “partnering approach” with waste services suppliers. Relevant accidents and incidents should be periodically reviewed and formal auditing of a vendors’ standards should be introduced.

Launching the guidance, HSE chair Judith Hackitt said safety standards in the waste and recycling industry were poor and councils had an important role to play in cutting the high rate of injuries and fatalities.

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