With a passion for saving the planet and an appreciation for doing real, tangible work that gets you out of the cubicle farms, you may be interested in taking up work at your local scrap yard. It’s a rough business in a lot of respects, but don’t be dissuaded—conscientious facility operators and oversight agencies have put safety measures in place that make working in a scrap yard safer than you’d expect. By following such precautions and keeping a good head on your shoulders, you can stay safe while working at a scrap yard and pursue that passion of sustainability in the real world.
Always Be Aware
This isn’t the kind of job where you can listen to music as you work, zone out on your phone, or otherwise lose focus. Scrap yards are full of machinery in motion and people hard at work. If you’re not paying attention, you’re getting in the way. To stay safe you must stay in focus, especially concerning what’s on the ground.
With all the sharp and jagged pieces of scrap at a scrap yard, don’t let them wind up underfoot. With insufficient footwear, metal shards can end up causing serious damage—and send you out for surgery and a tetanus shot. Thick-soled footwear is the way to go at any recycling facility.
Follow OSHA Guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, governs safety regulations in all workplaces, and their guidelines for scrap metal and recycling facilities are appropriately rigorous. OSHA guidelines delineate rules for personal protective equipment (PPE), exposure to toxicity and radioactivity in the metals you’ll handle, and safety accessories and failsafes for dangerous machinery.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
An alligator shear may not have to worry about biting off more than it can chew, but you do. Working in a scrap yard can be physically grueling work, and you may wish to prove your worth by demonstrating your strength and stamina. Be careful about doing too much at once and injuring yourself. Knowing your limitations and working accordingly to keep yourself at your best is an important aspect to staying safe while working at a scrap yard. Perform all manual labor safely.