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Waste industry consults on revised fire risk guidance

The Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH) has launched a consultation today on revised fire guidance in the sector. The month-long consultation, which closes on 24 March, seeks comments on the latest measures to minimise the risk of fires at waste and recycling plants and prevent a repeat of incidents like the Smethwick recycling plant blaze in July 2013.

Waste industry consults on revised fire risk guidance

The fire at the West Midlands plant, which involved 50,000 tonnes of recycling materials, resulted in nine firefighters being treated for injuries or exhaustion.

WISH includes representatives from the Health and Safety Executive, the main trade associations, professional bodies, recycling organisations and national and local government bodies. Its new draft guidance, WASTE 28 Reducing Fire Risk at Waste Management Sites, reflects advances in control measures since the launch of the first formal guidance in October 2014.

It also draws on recent research covering the combustion properties of waste, which will be used to inform the industry on effective prevention measures, such as acceptable storage stack separation distances. The research includes extensive waste burn trials conducted in 2015 and 2016, carried out by the Health and Safety Laboratory, both in laboratory conditions and on a larger scale externally.

WISH anticipates that the final version of the revised guidance will be available in late March or early April.

Chris Jones, WISH chair, told IOSH Magazine: “Waste fires threaten the health, safety and wellbeing of workers on-site, firefighters and the wider public, so it’s important that we continue to focus our efforts on preventing them and minimising the impact of those fires that do occur. The new guidance draws on extensive research and knowledge sharing between the industry, the Chief Fire Officers Association and other regulatory agencies.”


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton was previously acting editor of IOSH Magazine. Before that he was editor of SHP and he has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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