Starting your own recycling facility from the ground up can be a difficult challenge and often quite literal. Many haulers get their start in sorting by dumping the loads on the floor and sorting through the pile by hand. While this is a place to start, it can actually present quite a few hazards to those sorting. In this article, we will dive into some of the dangers of sorting from the picking floor and how you can create a safer environment.
In a ground sorting situation, there are a lot of vision obstructions coming from large piles of debris, bins, front-end loaders, and the ongoing traffic through the plant. Sorters working in the same environment as mobile equipment can become obscured easily. Anytime you put people in the vicinity of moving vehicles you create the perfect scenario for an accident to happen.
On any given day, sorters will process many different material shapes and sizes with sometimes limited understanding of what it is. These can be long sharp objects, heavy pieces, rusted, and potentially containers with unknown liquids. The risk of exposure and injury is increased when you have to walk through these materials on a daily basis.
As in every environment, lifting can be dangerous. In fact, lifting is one of the main causes of workplace injury in the US. Heavy objects on unbalanced footing are a recipe for disaster. It is always important to make sure you are using proper form when lifting heavy objects and that the ground is clear of debris. Incorrect lifting can lead to back, elbow, knee, and wrist injuries to name a few.
Broken objects and liquids create obstacles throughout the picking floor that lead to falls. Climbing into the pile can also be extremely dangerous. Unstable materials and sharp objects can lead to dangerous falls into hazardous materials.
Moving waste materials can kick silica and organic dust into the air causing respiratory hazards to those working in the area. PPE can help to protect workers from dust but there are additional steps that can help contain air contaminants that we will discuss later on.
Installing a recycling system can improve worker safety in many areas:
Visibility / Traffic: Recycling systems move workers up and away from the pile and traffic dangers onto gated platforms.
Hazardous Objects: A recycling system helps to presort and evenly present material for hand sorting. With material evenly spread across the conveyor, workers are less likely to be cut or scraped by unseen dangers.
Lifting: Heavier objects are lifted onto the primary screen for sorting by a grapple operator which then sorts out the heavier materials like rock and leaves the lighter material to be screened more before they are hand sorted.
Falls: Moving workers away from uneven flooring and obstacles can prevent tripping and falling onto exposed waste. Further measures are taken by adding railings and safety features to the platforms surrounding equipment.
Air Contamination: Ventilation and dust containment options are available with recycling systems to further remove dust hazards from workers that are directly exposed.
In addition to improving safety, switching to a recycling system will drastically improve processing power.
Going the route of custom equipment for your recycling system can offer further safety benefits. Custom equipment has the option of additional guards and gating, preventing workers from coming into contact with moving parts and pinch points.
General Kinematics offers a wide variety of safety customizations to improve your recycling system. GK equipment is made to prevent jamming and reduce maintenance for less equipment interaction. Contact GK today to learn more about what a recycling system can do for your process!