BIR: Help and advice readily available to make the workplace safer

Taking the proactive approach to safety was one of the key themes to emerge from the BIR Shredder Committee meeting in Amsterdam on May 23.

Alev Somer, BIR’s Deputy Director for Trade & Environment, explained that the world recycling association’s shredder safety surveys and the subsequent reports on their findings were intended to boost overall safety by enabling operators to benchmark their own performance against other sites. These documents could prove extremely useful not only in identifying scope to avoid accidents and injuries but also in safety briefings, she said.

Key takeaways from the world recycling organization’s most recent safety survey included confirmation that conveyor and material pile unloading areas represented key locations for accidents and injuries, she pointed out.

The role of good planning and preparation in limiting safety risks was stressed by George Adams of SA Recycling in the USA during his presentation on minimizing and managing fires caused by lithium batteries. Fires were inevitable, he contended, but their impact could be mitigated by “shredding or shipping to the ground every day” or by maintaining suitable gaps between multiple but smaller piles. Readily available sources of water and fire-fighting equipment, development of a Fire Prevention Plan and frequent fire drills were also highly recommended by Mr Adams.

The negative press following a fire was “way more expensive” than the cost of establishing an appropriate fire management regime, he insisted to delegates.

The continuing growth of the global shredder population confirmed their world market status as “an effective way to reduce CO2 emissions”, stated BIR Shredder Committee Chairman Alton Scott Newell III of Newell Recycling Equipment in the USA. Numbers had grown to 1181 on the latest BIR World Shredder List, with 334 located in the USA, 257 in the EU/EFTA region and 590 throughout the rest of the world, including 340 in China and 110 in Japan.

The BIR Shredder Committee’s varied meeting programme in Amsterdam also featured presentations on classification of metal shredder residues and on e-car recycling. Howard Bluck, Technical Director of the British Metals Recycling Association, first explained to delegates about his organization’s testing of metal shredder residues after the UK’s Environment Agency confirmed its intention to review the 2005 position designating the material as non-hazardous. Loss of this non-hazardous status would raise major concerns over availability of appropriate landfill capacity and higher costs, he pointed out.

The final presentation from Sebastian Raubinger, Chief Marketing Officer of SEDA Group in Austria, outlined his company’s expertise in developing, manufacturing and selling end-of-life vehicle recycling technologies and stations, as well as associated special tools and equipment. Revisiting the issue of safety that had dominated the early part of the session, Mr Raubinger also noted that his company conducted workflow and risk assessment analyses for e-car recycling centres, including how to deal with emergencies such as fires.


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