Workers in the recycling industry face almost unprecedented rates of on-the-job injuries. This is due to a variety of reasons, some of which include working in hot and cold environments, operating heavy machinery, and having to work around moving fork lifts. All of these have the room to create a potential hazard and lead to an injury. But these factors can be managed and the risk of injury reduced if a proper HSE management system is put in place by the company and instituted by an occupational health manager. The three areas that an HSE management system should focus on are training, education, and compliance.
Safety and Training Programs
Currently, the recycling industry largely consists of temporary workers as some seasons bring higher volumes of recyclable materials, just as some industries produce more. Depending on who the recycling company has a contract with, either the city or a factory, then they may need to hire more workers at certain times of the year. Due to this, often these temporary workers are not as well-trained in safety protocols and thus more at risk of injury than their full-time counterparts. This means that an HSE management system has to consider that the temporary workers may need extensive training in order to keep them safe. By using HSE software solutions, a training program and safety certification modules can be created so that temporary and permanent employees alike can have access to all of the training and safety materials they will need. A roster of safety-certified temporary employees can then be created so that these workers can be called in on an as-needed basis and already have the requisite training as compared to a fresh crop of temps.
The Importance of Education
Another issue that causes injuries amongst recycling workers is the fact that a lot of the general public and factories who are providing the materials to be recycled do not in fact actually know how to properly separate them. For example, glass, metal, and paper products all need to be separate. If someone throws a broken glass bottle in with paper, it could cut a worker who was not prepared to encounter glass. Now the workers process the paper are all at risk of injury. Recycling companies can create programs in conjunction with municipalities to address this by providing statistics on worker injury via infographics to the public with the aim to educate and protect both them and their workers from injury.
Compliance with Regulations
The final component is compliance. An HSE management system must always make compliance across the full spectrum of health, safety, and environment a priority. This can be done in conjunction with environmental compliance software. The software updates automatically as new regulations are imposed or amended. Once this is in place then training programs can be updated to reflect these to ensure that workers are compliant when it comes to protecting the environment and themselves. For example, if workers are using a heating process for plastic to melt it and not wearing the requisite headgear, they could be subject to chemical burns or inhalation. This could have severe consequences. But, if they have gone through training modules detailing compliance, what gear they need to wear to protect themselves, and what to do in the face of malfunction then they are equipped to handle most eventualities.
The bottom line is that workers need to have the proper training to protect themselves, the public, and all while maintaining compliance.