Susan Relf is the Renewable Energy Association’s representative on the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) steering group and compliance director for organics recycling firm Agrivert. Susan is also Chair for the WISH Working Group for SME's.
The WISH Network is a resource for small businesses providing support with regards to health and safety.
For the waste and recycling industry ‘being part of the solution’ is about taking part in ‘delivering the solution’. The industry is constantly changing and it’s an area where entrepreneurial, small businesses can thrive.
With an ever changing arena and many new entrants, the consciences of ethical businesses should consider how to support keeping and promoting healthier, safer workplaces; especially aimed at the SMEs.
Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH)
The WISH forum was formed 10 years ago to support the waste and recycling industry in its health and safety challenges. WISH consists of representatives from inside and outside the industry, including trade bodies, professional organisations, trade unions, training bodies, and national and local government bodies including the HSE. Over the past decade WISH has produced an extensive range of waste management specific guidance, conducted research into emergent health and safety issues, provided advice to the industry on specific issues and acted as the central point for health and safety initiatives across the waste sector.
In February 2013 WISH teamed up with the HSE and held a joint strategy summit. It was attended by representatives from across the industry with the main aim of developing key goals for “delivering the solution”.
A number of actions were identified at the summit. They were:
- Develop and publish guidance or possibly a scheme aimed specifically at waste sector SMEs who wish to evaluate or validate their performance against the requirements of HSG 65;
- Develop and publish guidance on the waste sector specific resources which are available for SMEs;
- Investigate and identify any deficiencies or areas in need of development, in the availability of guidance and similar resources for waste sector SMEs; and,
- Investigate and develop methods to communicate with waste sector SME’s.
The waste and recycling industry recognises that there is a need for better support for SMEs in the endeavour to create healthier and safer workplaces across Great Britain. One of the keys goals from the summit in February was to set up a working group to garner from SMEs what they actually require in terms of support. The group needs feedback from SMEs in order to create relevant support.
There is a need to also recognise the absence of feedback from the micro-SMEs who remain relatively invisible until something goes wrong. On the December 18 2013, eight volunteers from businesses such as skip hire, waste management and recycling, construction and demolition waste met at Agrivert’s head office in Oxfordshire. There followed lively discussion that identified interesting and useful suggestions to get the “show on the road”.
The first challenge is to ensure work of others is not duplicated but tapped into. The second is to identify the smaller groups that would benefit from improved signposting on what is available already as support and what tools might be useful to support training and knowledge building. One example of this is developing a self-assessment tool which allows businesses to ask the question: “how good is my business at health and safety?”
The eight representatives went away with relevant actions, based around the above challenges, and to complete before their next meeting at the end of February 2014.
To help, we are calling for current local safety forums in the waste and recycling industry to get in touch, spread the word and help align our efforts. Additionally, we are asking that members of the industry share the initiative’s objectives with smaller contractors and businesses and ask what support they would welcome around raising awareness, training, guidance, assessment tools and so on.
For further information and to contribute your ideas to the WISH working group then please get in touch with Susan Relf.