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Safely or Not at All- Using Materials Handlers for Waste Operations

22nd November 2018

Industrial and commercial waste systems flow a continuous stream of material with the productivity and efficiency of a site relying heavily on the effective use of equipment. The materials handler is a vital piece of machinery on most waste and scrap handling facilities. It is proven that a safe site makes for a more productive site and workforce and the use of materials handlers forms part of that.

Materials handlers come with their own operational challenges. Evolved from 360 excavators, these machines are designed to provide sites with a method of transferring material from one location to another. Their raised cabs allow for enhanced visibility when working with stock piles, conveyor systems, loading and unloading ships, containers and lorries or bins, allowing the operator to gain a clear view of the material being handled. 

Like all items of plant, this machine has diversified its operational capabilities with additional attachments being introduced to allow for compaction and shearing of the varying materials typically found on waste or scrap facilities. 

The Right Attachment

Changing an attachment on mobile plant equipment can, on occasions, be time consuming resulting in shortcuts being taken. It is important that the operators on site are aware of how to choose the correct attachment for the job, understand how to safely and correctly change the attachment and appreciate the damage that can be caused to loads and machinery if handled incorrectly.

Knowing which of the attachments to use with different materials should be decided when reviewing the operational tasks and selecting the equipment. The manufacturers will support with this decision-making process and once selected, a risk assessment, SSoW and any manufacturers guidance should be used to ensure all operators work to the preferred guidance.

Compaction of Waste 

This is something that, as a training provider, Mentor comes across regularly. Using this machine to compact waste by hammering the waste down in bins is incorrect; there should be no need to hit the waste with force as it damages the machine and bins and can cause shards of debris to be showered from the bin especially when compacting wood. Manufacturers have proven that by using the machine to apply pressure, the amount of waste in each bin can be maximised just as effectively and with no damage to the machine or danger from debris.

Three Points of Contact Rule

Every year, falls from height including from materials handlers, injure approximately 8% of people working in the UK. It sounds simple, but it is surprising how many operatives do not follow this basic principle. By applying the three points of contact rule, risk of injury will be dramatically decreased. The rule simply states that when accessing or egressing the cab, there should be 3 points of contact until seated or fully outside the machinery. This means one foot and two hands, or two feet and one hand must remain in contact with the steps, grab irons or hand rails at all times; the rule applies in all working environments.

Understanding the machine, being confident in the principles of its use and following key safety measures will allow the operative to carry out safe operations on a waste site.

For more information on being trained to operate machinery on a waste site or finding out about how waste training could be beneficial to your operation, contact us today on 01246 386900


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