Scrap Metal Handling Safety for Manufacturing
We all know that safety is important. We want our team members to arrive home from work after every shift in the same (if not better) shape they were in when they clocked in. In today’s labor market and operational environments, safety is an even hotter priority. With people having to do more with less and the fast pace required to keep up with demand, it can be tempting for plant teams to cut corners—and it hurts the team even more than ever when someone is out due to injury.
That’s why we decided to write this article. At the time of this writing, we’ve gone two full years without a workplace injury at Shapiro Metals! As we are celebrating this accomplishment, it got us thinking: what has helped us keep our team members safe that could help everyone who handles scrap metal?
Wear PPE When Handling Scrap
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to PPE. Cut-resistant gloves should be worn when handling any sharp materials. Look for gloves made from tough materials like leather, Kevlar®, or high-performance polyethylene (HPPE).
Safety glasses are likely already part of the daily PPE in your facility, and they should be worn at all times when working with scrap metal. To protect your feet from sharp debris, closed-toe shoes with a slip-resistant sole and steel-reinforced toes are ideal.
Complete the look with a hard hat, and you’re ready to go!
How to Safely Transport and Store Scrap in Your Facility
Avoid handling scrap with your hands whenever possible, but if you must, be sure to use proper lifting techniques to avoid straining or spraining muscles. Ergonomic adjustments to the working environment can help, such as changing the height of the collecting bin, reducing the weight or size of material being lifted, or using mechanical lifting aids. As always, be sure to wear your cut-resistant gloves.
If you’re using a forklift to transport scrap across your facility, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Be sure to follow the operating requirements of the vehicle you are using and don’t overload it beyond its rated capacity. Overloading a lift truck or forklift can cause tipping—and adding extra weight to the back of the vehicle isn’t a safe way to counterbalance the load.
Common sense is also key when lifting with cranes. Be sure to inspect your slings before and after service and only use chains and fittings that are rated for overhead lifting. Before raising your load, it’s a good idea to add padding to areas with sharp edges just in case the load was to come in contact with a person or another piece of equipment. Lift and pivot slowly, ensuring the area is clear. And finally, cranes should only be operated by a team member who is trained and certified to do so.
When transporting scrap metal, always use a container that is specifically designed for this purpose. When we set up management services for our customers, we start with a plant analysis that takes into consideration all the containers a facility will need to safely execute the program.
Finally, it can be tempting for team members to climb into scrap receptacles to stomp down the contents in order to create more space for additional scrap, but this risky activity can lead to injuries.
Just in Case: Stock Your First-Aid Kit
If a team member is injured, quick treatment is key. Be sure that you have a well-stocked first-aid kit on hand in a place that’s easily accessible. Your first-aid kit should include supplies such as adhesive bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, and a thermometer.
Partners in Safety
Creating a safe environment for team members is crucial. Safety is essential for helping your team members feel valued, which is a large part of what motivates them to stay employed with you.
We understand the value of safety in manufacturing, which is why we go beyond recycling to help our customers improve operations. If you’re looking for a partner that can provide full-scale support when it comes to your recycling needs, connect with a Shapiro Metals representative today to get started.