The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance on designing and operating materials recycling facilities as the number of MRFs in the UK increases.
Written in consultation and with support from the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum (WISH), the HSE has provided a brief guide to highlight the major health and safety issues that should be addressed when designing, installing, making alterations to, or operating a MRF. The document is not meant to be a stand-alone guide.
According to the guidelines pedestrian and/or vehicle collisions are the biggest single cause of fatalities at recycling plants, therefore the HSE believes it is vitally important that pedestrians are segregated from moving plant and vehicles.
Welfare, fire, machinery, ergonomics, dust and noise and space and access are also included in the report.
However, waste management training and consultancy firm Dynamic Resource Network director Andrew Firman believes there needs to be more emphasis on training workers. He said: I found that the report was weak from the training and personnel point of view. People are frequently injured and in extreme cases, killed, when they have not been properly trained and are therefore unaware of the risks involved.
The HSEs hierarchy to significantly reduce the risks from moving plant and vehicles puts safe personnel at the very bottom but none of the things that come before it - safe vehicle safe site and safe ways of working will be a concern until the human element is added.
New employees starting work at an MRF will be required to hit the ground running, especially in todays economic climate, because MRF operators would not want to close the facility to allow staff training.
SCA Recycling business development director Kevin Thomas said: SCA Recycling welcomes the new guidance from the HSE. It aims to raise the benchmark for MRF operations in the UK, something that we are striving to do with our new MRF in Southampton, and this can only be good for the industry overall.