ISRI has been awarded $160,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund fire safety education and training to recyclers and materials recovery facilities (MRFs). On Tuesday, Sept. 28, OSHA announced that more than $11.6 million in grants were awarded to 93 nonprofit organizations nationwide to fund education and training on hazard recognition and prevention, and on rights of workers to safe workplaces and employers’ responsibilities to provide them under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.
Derived through the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, the grants in fiscal year 2021 are in three categories: Targeted Topic Training, Training and Educational Materials Development, and Capacity Building.
“Fires are a real issue for both recyclers and MRFs, and our goal is to educate people about them with a focus on prevention,” says Ryan Nolte, Ph.D., ISRI’s director of safety outreach. ISRI has been studying fires in the recycling industry for several years. The association published the Guide to Creating a Fire Prevention and Management Plan in 2019. In 2020, OSHA awarded ISRI a $160,000 grant to develop and deliver fire safety education and training to recyclers and MRFs. During the development process, fire science professionals, led by Kenn Kunze of IC Fire Prevention LLC, conducted an analysis of fire issues in the recycling industry.
“The analysis allowed us to gauge where the industry was and gave us a good baseline,” Nolte says. The study and analysis helped with creating and designing ISRI’s new fire safety course, Hazard Recognition: Fire Safety & Prevention in Recycling. “In the course, we help recyclers consider what may be in place in their facilities that could cause a fire like the location of fuel sources in relation to ignition sources. The course is aimed at helping people identify potential risk areas.”
For the 2021 grant, ISRI plans to continue providing fire safety training to employers and workers in recycling and MRFs. The targeted audience includes limited-English speaking, temporary, and hard-to-reach workers. Training topics include fire safety hazard recognition. ISRI intends to revise its existing Harwood training materials. Training will be offered in English and Spanish.
Nolte encourages recyclers to attend the class whether or not they already have a program in place. “If you have an existing program, it’s a good way to evaluate your program with what we’re educating on, and if you don’t have a program, it gives you a good starting point,” he says. There’s also great value in attending the class and getting to collaborate and hear from other recyclers across the nation who are sharing similar stories and experiences.
ISRI has already created several course materials through the Susan Harwood Training grant program to help recyclers learn more about potential hazards in the industry. The Hazard Recognition in Recycling course focuses on hazard recognition and mitigation in the operations environment. The Hazard Recognition around Loading Dock Areas course reviews the importance of finding, recognizing, and fixing hazards in the loading dock and shipping and receiving areas of a business.