§ Mr. George Howarth
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what guidelines and procedures exist or are proposed on the role and responsibilities of the Health and Safety Executive in monitoring and supervising medical waste incinerator facilities.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
The Health and Safety Executive's responsibilities in respect of incinerators, including those which handle medical waste, extend to enforcing the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and regulations made under the Act in respect of the health, safety and welfare of employees and the health and safety or others who may be affected by work activities to the extent that such activities are not covered by other more specific environmental legislation not enforced by HSE.
Of particular relevance are the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1988, which are each supported by an approved code of practice. Both regulations require employers to assess the risk to their employees and to others who may be affected by the work activity, and carry out steps to bring into effect and maintain the level of control required by their assessments. The COSHH regulations specifically expand and clarify the duties of employers regarding hazardous substances at work to which employees and others may be exposed.
At visits to incinerators, HSE's role is to ensure that compliance with the relevant legislation is achieved by employers and workers at the workplace. The Health and Safety Commission's Health Services Advisory Committee has published guidance on the safe disposal, including incineration, of medical waste and HSE inspectors refer to this guidance during inspection and other visits to incineration facilities.
Emissions from incinerators and operating conditions are covered by environmental legislation and are the responsibility of other enforcing authorities.