The scrap metal industry is a vital part of the UK economy recycling valuable metals, reducing landfill and employing thousands of people across the UK. As much as half of all manufactured metal in the UK is made up of recycled materials, which gives some indication of the size of the sector and it’s importance to our economy. Locally, in Coventry, Birmingham and Warwickshire we have a variety of scrap metal recycling companies, ranging from large national and international concerns to small family run businesses. As with many industries, health and safety in the past hasn’t been great in the scrap metal business. The metal recycling business is hazardous. There are many injuries each year and unfortunately way too many deaths associated with this work. For example, between 2001 and 2010 there were 57 fatalities relating to vehicle movements alone in the metal recycling industry. This figure is way too high. In addition to fatalities, there are many injuries and long term illnesses associated with working in dangerous scrap metal yards and recycling centres. These are the 9 main safety risks associated with the scrap metal recycling business according to the HSE:
- Workplace Transport
- Transport related lifting operations
- Falls from height
- Sheeting and unsheeting
- Manual handling
- Slips and trips
- Fire and explosion
- Mechanical lifting operations
- Machinery issues.
As you can see these broad hazards are all present in scrap yards and recycling facilities. They have serious potential to kill and seriously injure people and unfortunately they do. In order to manage these risks a comprehensive health and safety regime is required including management and staff involvement; the production of appropriate policies and procedures; good quality risk assessments; the creation of efficient and safe systems of work; health and safety training; and a robust inspection and auditing process. By instigating a proficient health and safety management system it is possible for companies to make workplaces considerably safer reducing the likelihood of deaths and injuries at work.
How do you reduce risks in the scrap sector?
Here are 10 helpful hints to reduce risk in scrap yards
There are some simple steps that can be taken to make scrap yards safer:
- Employ health and safety expertise- either directly or through the use of a health and safety consultancy like JCH Safety Ltd
- Carry out risk assessments to identify the hazards and consider control measures to eliminate the risk
- Abide with the law and regulations relating to the scrap metal business including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; the Management Regulations; COSHH; the RRFSO and many more.
- Train staff- ensure staff are competent to carry out their tasks and have had relevant health and safety training such as Manual Handling Awareness Training and Fire Awareness Training
- Enact useful safety rules for site and enforce them
- Manage the safe operation and movement of vehicles
- Ensure hazardous materials are correctly handled and stored
- Make sure loads are handled correctly
- Have correct safety procedures for work at height
- Provide good quality and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
There are many ways to make the scrap metal and recycling industry safer. JCH Safety are a professional health and safety consultancy working across Coventry and Warwickshire. If you require any assistance with any aspects of health and safety consultancy; health and safety inspections or audits; policies and procedures; and health and safety training, please get in touch.
When choosing health and safety expertise ensure that you use Chartered Occupational Safety and Health consultants who are registered with The Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)