Safety Before—and Beyond—Compliance

Aug 16, 2017

By Tony Smith

Those who have been in the scrap business for decades might remember operating before the 1970 passage of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. The act established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal body that creates and enforces workplace safety regulations. Since then, businesses have had to ensure their operations are in compliance with OSHA regulations or the state equivalent or risk facing steep penalties.

Long before safety was required by law, however, it was something industries tried to achieve by implementing best practices, sharing industry knowledge, and coming to consensus around voluntary standards. One such standard for crane safety, ASME B30, was first developed just over a century ago, in 1916, via the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (New York). For those who used lift equipment such as mobile cranes, overhead cranes, slings, and rigging, this signaled a new beginning in the world of safety.

Scrap operations today are very different from what they were in 1916, of course. ASME B30 and similar standards are living documents, and the process of creating, updating, and refining them continues to this day. The stakeholders and subject matter experts that volunteer for this work come from diverse backgrounds and offer many different points of view, but they work together to reach industry consensus. ISRI Safety works with two different standards development organizations, ASME and the American National Standards Institute (Washington, DC), to ensure standards for scrap processing equipment reflect the industry’s needs and concerns.

Right now I represent ISRI members in the standards development process for ASME B30 and a second standard, ANSI/NWRA Z245. That standard, for equipment, technology, and operations for the waste and recyclable industry, is managed by ANSI and the National Waste and Recycling Association (Washington, D.C.). I chair two subcommittees under those standards: ASME B30.25, Scrap and Material Handlers, and ANSI/NWRA Z245.7, Size Reduction Equipment. ASME B30.25, established 20 years ago, gets revised every five years; we expect to publish the newest revision in January 2018. ANSI/NWRA Z245.7 is a new standard we are developing, and we hope to publish it in the next three to five years. That, too, will have a five-year revision schedule.

These are voluntary standards, not laws or regulations, but they offer guidance where there might not be any at the regulatory level. In many cases, OSHA does not have a regulation covering the specific safety issues related to scrap recycling equipment and processes. In other cases, the voluntary standards meet or exceed the regulatory requirements. The standards offer guidelines and best practices for equipment design and construction; equipment inspection, testing, and maintenance; and equipment operations. They focus on your real-world, day-to-day situations.

Understanding and using the ANSI and ASME consensus standards as guidance documents for your standard operating procedures will streamline your operations and give your safety program a solid foundation. Doing so can help ensure the safe operation of your business. For more information on the consensus standards, visit or

—Tony Smith is a director of safety outreach for ISRI.

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