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ISRI Devotes Day to Safety

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) is urging its members to take a time-out for safety today, following at least 11 workplace deaths and multiple critical injuries since early August.

ISRI has declared Oct. 15 to be Safety Stand-Down Day, encouraging members to stop operating for at least one hour on every shift to engage in safety awareness training. Members can find safety tips, training outlines, inspection checklists, videos and other resources at the ISRI Safety website.

In an Oct. 8 letter to members announcing the safety day, ISRI leaders wrote:

“These tragedies at our member facilities have not only changed the affected families, friends and coworkers forever, but also the company’s owners’ lives and their families’ as well. It is sad and this trend must stop. Please take this opportunity to observe Safety Stand-down Day to seek out and eliminate hazards within your operations. Demonstrate to your workforce that safety is your number one core value and that you consider them to be the most important asset of your operation. Remember, Safely or Not at All.”

ISRI’s Safety Outreach Services provides hands-on assistance free of charge to members as well. Members and non-members can also subscribe to ISRI’s Safety Update newsletter.

Click here to tell us how you emphasize safety at your recycling center, and we will share your story with our readers.


Set Positive Goals for Safety Programs

Focus on your efforts. Not the results.

That’s the essence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s policy for a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), under which employers, employees and OSHA collaborate to make a workplace safer.

So, while the beginning of the year is a good time to set safety goals for your scrapyard, do so with caution. Set safety goals based on how to work safer, rather than rewarding employees for not reporting injuries. Otherwise, OSHA may require you to revise your VPP.

In a December newsletter regarding scrapyard safety, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries provides potential safety goals that can make your scrapyard safer without running afoul of OSHA’s policies for safety programs.

“We’re trying to get in front of the injuries and to reward them for the things that lead to safety,” said Joe Bateman, a safety outreach manager for ISRI.

Though rewarding employees with gift cards for an injury-free month may sound like a good idea, your money would be better spent rewarding them for such positive habits as wearing personal protective equipment and attending safety training.

In an August 2014 memo, OSHA stated:

“A positive incentive program encourages or rewards workers for reporting injuries, illnesses, near-misses, or hazards; and/or recognizes, rewards, and thereby encourages worker involvement in the safety and health management system.”

Furthermore, it continues:

“When an incentive program discourages worker reporting or, in particularly extreme cases, disciplines workers for reporting injuries or hazards, problems remain concealed, investigations do not take place, nothing is learned or corrected, and workers remain exposed to harm.” 

Though OSHA has been pushing businesses to shift to positive incentive programs for several years now, some scrapyards still haven’t replaced VPP that focused on injuries, often because of a lack of knowledge or resources for doing so.

“When you have a workforce of 35 people you’re not going to hire a full-time safety manager. It falls on you,” Bateman said.

But ISRI is helping to make the industry safer by providing free safety training and education to its members. Learn more about ISRI’s safety outreach program and resources at


Plan Ahead for a Hurricane

Preparing a scrapyard for a hurricane should begin well before the winds start whipping.

Creating, reviewing and revising an emergency response plan prior to storm season provides the optimal protection.

In planning ahead, you can react sooner and avoid potentially disastrous oversights when a storm threatens. For example, knowing how you will secure equipment before a storm hits and communicate with employees afterward so that they know when it is safe to return will help you better protect your business and your people.

“The time to plan is always before,” said Terry Cirone, vice president of safety for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. “So, if you could be in the path of a storm get out that plan, dust it off and review it.”

Cirone advises recycling centers to be particularly proactive in preparing their communication plans, controlling mold, and protecting their records. “It’s all about business continuity and protecting your assets.”

Some businesses recently impacted by Hurricane Harvey failed to protect their files from water damage, she said. “If they get so flooded out or water-logged that you can’t utilize them, then that’s a problem.”

With Hurricane Irma’s arrival imminent and additional storms looming, Cirone urged businesses to prepare early and act quickly to stay safe.

Here are some suggested steps.

  • Review responsibilities for preparations and response with everyone, including senior management.

  • Establish processes for storm-related communication between employees and managers, such as how to announce when the business will close and re-open as well as how employees can report that they cannot make it to work. Update all related phone numbers.

  • Secure equipment or materials that could be sent flying by strong winds.

  • Shut down electrical equipment that could be exposed to flooding.

  • Remove low-lying files and other property that could be damaged by high waters.

  • Check for mold caused by flooding. Hire experts to treat affected areas like walls and carpets if needed to protect the health of your employees and customers.

See ISRI’s Safety Tips for Hurricane and Flooding Cleanup and Recovery Work for additional information.



Lithium Batteries Pose Fire Risks for Scrapyards and E-waste Recyclers

Lithium batteries are dangerous for recycling centers.

Used to power popular accessories such as smartphones and cameras, the batteries are often discarded along with their devices but cannot be recycled in the same manner because they can be combustible.

A 3,000-pound ferrous stockpile caught fire at a Tacoma scrapyard when a lithium-ion battery was included with a large load of consumer scrap. “People are unaware of these batteries and are getting them into the shredding stream,” Simon Metals President Paul Olsen said, according to a Recycling Today article.

Small but powerful lithium-ion batteries can retain much of their charge after the device that contains them is thrown into the trash or in with recycling. The batteries can then ignite if their terminal touches metal, thereby closing the circuit and creating a spark.

“If it’s at a recycling facility where it’s mixed in with paper and other items that are burnable, that goes up like you wouldn’t believe,” Carl Smith, CEO and president of the nationwide Call2Recycle program told USA Today for a story about how exploding lithium-ion batteries are causing trash fires. Lithium-ion batteries caused fires at an Indianapolis recycling plant and a recycling facility in New York City, for example, the newspaper reported.

Managing lithium-ion batteries

Call2Recycle has launched a battery safety campaign to prevent safety incidents such as fires. The organization estimates that 175 million pounds of lithium-ion batteries alone were sold into the U.S. market in 2017, USA Today noted.

Call2Recycle encourages consumers to recycle batteries by dropping them off at approved recycling locations. It also recommends taping battery terminals so that they do not cause a fire by rubbing against surfaces that could ignite sparks.

Employees at IT asset disposition company HOBI International manually remove all batteries, tape over their terminals and put them aside for shipment to battery recyclers, according to a Scrap magazine article about end-of-life hazards and product design. Scrap suggested that battery designers help mitigate fires by incorporating risk-reducing features like internal insulators and external terminal covers.

Olsen said that Simon Metals would take new precautions to prevent fires like the one it had at its Tacoma scrapyard, such as by forming smaller piles of materials and being more discerning in the materials it takes.

“We’re going to more closely watch what suppliers bring in,” Olsen said, according to Recycling Today. “We have radiation detectors, but [lithium-ion batteries] can be hard to find. So, suppliers have to isolate them. They have to get the batteries taken care of and out of the supply stream.”



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Our Story

We started 20 years ago as Web4Minds, a software development firm that provides custom solutions to meet our clients’ needs. One such client came to us four years ago to develop software to manage their scrapyards.

Upon receiving feedback from the client and working with dozens of others, we realized that we had created a product that stood out among the competition, so we brought our solution to the marketplace as Scrapyard Pro. It is now used at recycling centers across the country, by clients ranging from single-location owners to regional operators.