Emphasis on worker safety key for recycling industry

Dec 31, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Lisa Gordon

Tags  Full of Scrap, Lisa Gordon, OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, worker safety

Reporting on the recycling industry requires the ability to tackle diverse subjects on a moment’s notice. But there is one topic with which I am never comfortable, haunting me well after deadlines pass.

The death of a scrapyard worker is truly a horrible occurrence. I make every attempt to not miss a single one because I can only hope that reports are posted in lunchrooms as a real reminder that people do die in the industry and to illustrate that they are preventable. While acts of God are known to happen, nearly every fatality at a scrapyard is the result of human error: a polite way of saying an employee’s death often is the result of his own choices and actions.

The fatal accident that stays in my memory to this day was one involving a man who died after climbing into a baler to clear a machine jam. This tragedy, like so many others, didn’t have to happen. In addition to shutting down the equipment, if the power source had been switched off at the utility box the accident couldn’t have occurred. Generally, when a jam is cleared the machine will start back up. Was he in a hurry, or running late, or just plain tired from working a long shift? We will never know, but the shortcut left behind a grieving family, including a baby who will never have any recollection of his father.....

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