Scotland launches “first in UK” health & safety framework for waste industry

Helme (Foto: ©RainerSturm /

Stirling, Scotland — A new competency framework for the waste management industry – the first of its kind in the UK – has been officially been launched. Developed by the SWITCH Forum (Scottish Waste Industry Training Competency and Health & Safety), the Resource Management Competence Framework, self-assessment tool and user-guide, focuses on a number of entry level disciplines, providing core competencies for all frontline roles in household, commercial and industrial waste management.

Safety is one of the key issues for the SWITCH forum. The latest Health and Safety Executive statistics for the UK show that although there has been a general decline in the rate of fatal injuries in the last 20 years, there were five fatal injuries to waste workers in 2014/15. The total number of fatal injuries to workers in the water and waste sector as a whole over the last five years was 37 – of which 33 were in the waste sector.

It was also highlighted that the most common kinds of accidents are caused by slips and trips, handling, lifting or carrying, and being struck by moving objects.

To raise Health and Safety standards

Charlie Devine, Head of Resource Management at Zero Waste Scotland, who chairs the SWITCH group, said: “There are still many hazards and risks associated with the resource management and recycling industry, and health and safety must remain the utmost priority. With the introduction of the new framework we hope that we can raise Health and Safety standards and start to enhance knowledge, skills and behaviours and improve the industry’s health and safety record.”

Several organisations volunteered to be early adopters of the framework and will showcase how they are putting it into practice during the official launch on Wednesday.

Jim Brown, Commercial Director, Binn Group, said: “At Binn Group we realise the importance of Health & Safety in the environment in which we operate and also appreciate that in the industry as a whole, there’s a long way to go to make it a safer place to work. We have committed as a business but also through our involvement with SWITCH to the continuous improvement in training and competence of our workforce. We aim both to improve Health & Safety but also to enhance the skills of our employees and invest in their futures. This should lead to a safer more committed workforce and the competency framework and self-assessment tool will play a focal part in what we are seeking to achieve.”

A consistent baseline of competency

Audrey Duckworth, Environmental Manager, Dry Waste Division, William Tracey Group, said:“The nature of our industry means we are acutely aware of both our health & safety and environmental responsibilities. Adopting the SWITCH framework ensures that every employee joining our business has a consistent baseline of competency and provides a strong foundation from which to build their knowledge and skills. The flexible design of the framework made it easy to implement and we had our first Training Academy Graduate in just six months.”

The SWITCH Forum, supported by Zero Waste Scotland, is made up of over 30 organisations from the waste and recycling industry. The aim is to provide leadership by working together to raise standards of health and safety, training, learning, development and competence to promote the Scottish resource management industry as an attractive career choice.

Source: Zero Waste Scotland