ARE YOU SAFE IN SALVAGE?Friday, March 23, 2012 10:19
Here’s the scenario. You’ve been operating an auto recycling salvage yard for 30 years, have invested thousands in equipment, training and upgrading your site and now the Environment Agency wants you to prove that you’re ‘Technically Competent’.
Technical Competence isn’t just about dismantling “End of Life” vehicles. It encompasses every aspect of running a car salvage business. Profitability can be affected by inefficient and unsafe practices in the salvage yard. Everything is connected.
Auto recycling businesses are deemed to be high risk because of the substances they deal with, such as fuel, oil and batteries. In the UK there is ‘strict liability’. If any pollutants are found to have originated from a recycling yard then the owner/operator is liable for all costs of cleaning up and restoring the polluted area back to its original state. Liability can also result in unlimited fines and up to 5 years imprisonment.
The environment is defined as everything that surrounds us – air, water and land. Pollution is defined as the release of substances or energy into the environment, which can contaminate air, water and land. Waste is defined as any substance or object that the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard.
Safe workplace, safe equipment, safe materials, safe people
Health and Safety standards correctly applied not only improve working lives by preventing accidents, but also protect the business from losing money, as well as help it save money. Less equipment ‘down time’, cheaper insurance premiums and fewer days lost to injury related absences are a few examples.
Owners and managers should occasionally take a step back from day to day activities and walk around the car salvage operation, noting any health and safety or environmental concerns.
To enable a plan to be developed to tackle any issues, a simple calculation can be used to assess risk and prioritise action.
Level of Risk = likelihood x consequence
In assessing the consequence of an event, for example, oil leaking into a river, or an employee tripping on something and being off work for a week, rate incidents on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 represents an event of very low consequence and 5 is very high.
Then look at the likelihood of this event occurring, again rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is very unlikely and 5 is highly likely, which will allow you to calculate the risk factor. Once the whole operation has been reviewed, work on priority. Don’t forget to focus on the issues that are the most likely and could cause the greatest effect, as well as those issues lower down the priority list that could have their risk factor reduced by a simple (and cheap) change in process or training.
Ask yourself if there is a low, medium or high risk of a pollution event or health and safety issue here?
Should your auto salvage business suffer its ‘worst case’ scenario, such as flooding or a fire, you need to ensure you have a continuity plan. Will your insurers help you in times of most need? Can you continue to trade within days or will it take you months to get back on your feet again? All of these questions need reviewing and changes made if necessary.
By establishing a regular routine of checking the car salvage business, making sure employees are up-to-date and constantly aware of the risks, maintaining safe processes and practices and recording everything you do, will you be well prepared for any eventuality. Your own insurance company should assist as it has a financial incentive to make sure your business remains healthy!
Remember – staying safe, clean and professional = staying profitable.