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Shredder safety under the spotlight

A new global survey into shredder safety has been launched by the Bureau of International Recycling, building on earlier research among its members.

The intention is to enable shredder owners and operators to benchmark their safety performance against similar operations around the world. It should also provide a basis for safety briefings for employees and contractors working. A previous survey in 2019 found no fatalities reported by those taking part and a non-fatal accident rate of 3 100 per 100 000 full-time equivalent employees. Regionally, the US figure was 2 800 and the EU’s 1 659, although that overall rate included a wide range among member states.

The results of the new survey were presented during the BIR convention by Chris Bedell of the David J Joseph company which operates 18 shredders. He said they indicated a number of trends such as incidents were less frequent in November and December and divided roughly 50-50 between maintenance and production.

More experienced employees were less likely to be injured but their injuries tended to be more significant when incidents did occur. The most likely injuries were fractures, contusions and to eyes (each accounting for 13%). Injuries during picking accounted for 20% of incidents while mill maintenance and conveyor repairs each accounted for 18%.

Bedell suggested one outcome of the survey could be a summit on shredder safety and he hoped the results would help businesses with shredders to consider revising their internal processes to address the high risks. ‘Stories and incidents are useful to share but the survey should have the ability to identify trends and areas to focus safety improvements as an industry,’ he said.

The new 2020 survey will carry additional questions including those concerning fires from fuels or batteries. It is available in five languages and BIR is assuring confidentiality.

BIR, in partnership with Newell Recycling, has published its annual global tally of shredders.

The main findings are;

  • The grand total of those which are 1 000 HP or greater and typically shred vehicles is 1 163.
  • Of these, 322 are in the US, led by Texas with 30 and Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania each having 15. There is none in the states of Alaska, Delaware, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.
  • The EU boasts 262 shredders of which 52 are in Italy, 45 in France and 39 in Germany – but there is none in Croatia, Cyprus, Luxembourg or Slovenia.
  • China dominates the rest of the total of 579 with 320, followed by Japan (110) and the UK, no longer in the EU, on 39.

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