Each area in the MRF can pose specific hazards. Locate your potential problem spots and take the necessary precautions.
Sorting Stations. The sorting station is the heart of the materials recovery facility. Because sorting is done manually, this is the place where workers will encounter most of the major potential hazards. Broken glass, contaminants, dust, noise, repetitive motions and crowded conditions are present to varying degrees at the sorting station. Sorters should wear hard hats, safety glasses, hearing and dust protection devices, as well as gloves, arm coverings and steel-toed boots.
Tipping Floors. Trucks, front-end loaders, skid-steer loaders and forklifts make the tipping floor a high safety concern. Traffic managers must balance the need to be on the floor with concerns for trucks backing up and loaders moving material onto conveyors.
Material discharge from unloading collection vehicles creates noisy operating conditions. Broken glass and unsure footing are constant hazards. Highly visible outerwear, hearing and eye protection, hard hats and thick-soled, steel-toed boots are proper attire in this area.
Conveyor Systems. Conveyors are a significant part of almost every material recovery operation. They can be mounted below- or on-floor or elevated. Because they frequently discharge from one to another, containment can be a problem. Potentially hazardous areas include motors, sprockets, chains, rollers or idlers. If side skirts are not provided, material can fall off and jam the rollers and belting or pile up on the floor. In some facilities, workers have been seen riding on below-grade conveyors spreading materials or removing contaminants.
Guard rails, belt guards and cages around motors and transfer points are appropriate safety precautions for conveyors.
Magnets. Magnets represent a major labor-saving device and are installed at virtually all material recovery facilities that have commingled collection systems. Because the magnet discharges ferrous materials to another conveyor or directly into a bin, care must be taken to avoid contact with the discharged material and all moving parts. Typically, magnets are caged to prevent injury from flying debris or moving parts.