Scrap Metal Safety
Scrap Metal Safety
The rising price of metal, coupled with an obligation for businesses to recycle more, has transformed the U.S. scrap metal industry into a huge economic boon for some savvy businesses and scrappers alike. Yet scrap metal safety has kept owners of these scrap yards on their toes. In 2015 alone, more than 20 million tons of ferrous scrap valued at more than $8 billion was exported by the United States to around 90 countries, creating more and more competitive yards around the nation.
Most people could be forgiven for thinking that it is a relatively straightforward business. In reality, it involves a complex chain of potentially hazardous processes that owners need to be aware of.
First of all, with its mix of salvaged vehicles, appliances, electronics, paint and plastic, scrap metal constitutes a potential fire hazard. These materials are invariably collected in huge piles, both pre- and post-processing and it’s not hard to imagine how sparks might cause a combustion. The material recovered after separation (known euphemistically as “fluff”) commonly contains a volatile mix of substances such as cadmium, chromium, lead, poly chlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), textiles, rubber, glass, foam and plastics. Fire in scrap yards are not simply a severity issue for owners there’s the insurers too, and they’re more frequent than you might think. In the last three years, at least 23 big fires and explosions have occurred at scrap metal facilities in state of California alone.
After a fire, the remaining waste and water can carry pollutants to the surrounding environment. Clean-up, inspection and permit requirements may delay the ability for a processor to re-open after a loss, which on top of machinery outage can add to business interruption costs.
Scrap metal recycler’s have taken numerous precautions over the years to keep their yards, employees, and towns safe from cantonments, fires and other harmful issues. With that being said, it’s a constant safety ideal these yards must contend with on a daily basis, that’s the only thing keeping cities like yours safe.