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Health and safety group formed in NSW following waste safety summit

A workplace health and safety group has been formed to better manage safety in the waste industry.

Announced in August at a Safety Summit in Sydney, the newly formed Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) workplace safety in waste management group will help organisations improve safety procedures.

Recent deaths in the waste industry in Australia prompted the Safety Summit – with others likely to be scheduled following the creation of the group.

More than 80 attendees from across the NSW waste management sector discussed concerning work health and safety trends at the summit on August 8 in Lidcombe.

WCRA executive director, Tony Khoury, said the summit and the announcement of the WCRA workplace safety in waste management group aim to help all organisations in the waste industry requiring support.

“We all need to reflect and act on what we can do to better manage risks and hazards in our workplaces.”

The summit was organised by WCRA and SafeWork NSW due to recent incidents that had occurred in the waste collection and recycling industries.

Incidents include one in May where two men were trapped under landfill during a worksite accident in Sydney. This resulted in one man dying and the other sustaining serious injuries. The men were reportedly hit by a heavy vehicle transporting landfill waste in Eastern Creek.

In June, there was a further fatality at Camellia involving a driver that was crushed when his vehicle rolled away while tipping.

In order to minimise the risk of these incidents, steps must be taken, such as ensuring traffic management inside yards is effective, a SafeWork NSW spokesperson told Inside Waste.

“Don’t have people working next to machinery unless there is clear separation. Companies should consult with their workers to find solutions of how this might work.”

At the summit, SafeWork NSW executive director, Tony Williams, explained that SafeWork will have a greater presence in the field with a program of rolling workplace visits throughout NSW looking at traffic systems, plant condition and maintenance, training and interaction with the general public on sites.

icare safety speaker ambassador, Kahi Puru, emphasised the importance of safety awareness –  explaining that workers and organisations cannot afford to be complacent.

Having lost his leg after a workplace forklift accident, Puru expressed the importance of never dismissing a near miss.

At 29 years old, Puru’s leg was crushed in a workplace forklift accident, which resulted in his leg being amputated at the hip. He now shares his story in the hope that others gain a better understanding of the importance of workplace safety.

 Panel discussions at the summit included talks on complacency causing undue incidents, tackling asbestos and a discussion on requiring waste transporters to be licenced by the NSW EPA.

The summit also covered EPA and SafeWork NSW plans to target rogue waste operators and reviewing guidelines for the collection, transport unloading of waste and recyclable materials.

With the creation of the WCRA workplace safety in waste management group, these topics will be looked at in further detail, in a bid to improve on current practices and workplace processes.