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"Vehicle depollution is a hazardous job and scrap yard fires are difficult to eliminate."


The statement that forms the title of this article, is not sustainable. The Environment Agency’s senior adviser on fire prevention plans says, “fires are “prolific” in the waste management sector generally, but they are most apparent at ELV sites, often stemming from poor depollution practices and issues related to lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.” To prevent risk of injury, death and harm to the environment, we need to clean-up the supply chain and greatly reduce the risk of fires occurring. The CEO of the BMRA stated in 2022 that if we do nothing, given fires in the waste industry are already an increasing topic of concern amongst the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Environment Agency, operators could face onerous sanctions from these stakeholders. In addition, these incidents will increase insurance premiums dramatically and, in some cases, may render companies uninsurable.


Education is key to making our ELV processes safer, building from the ground up, making our employees more aware of the dangers associated with their roles, taking the time to explain the dangers of taking shortcuts whilst demonstrating the benefits of evolving current ELV activities with safe and sustainable solutions to increase operational efficiency. Introducing strict inspection practices for ELVs as they arrive on site is fundamental to eliminating fires - lithium-ion batteries in discarded electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Removing road wheels and separating tyre carcases ensures pressure monitors can be retrieved, another source of fires. Identifying LPG vehicles and removing the tank at the very start of the depollution process is another way to mitigate the risk of fire from tanks being accidentally entering the shredder or bailer.


The tasks carried out during depollution are highly skilled and involve numerous hazardous activities; fires at ATFs are prolific, and injuries are a common occurrence, with many of these associated with inadequate tooling or a general lack of awareness of danger. Despite the role being relatively high risk, it is perceived as a low-paid entry position within the industry, and as such, there is a high turnover of staff due to lack of training and appreciation, poor equipment, unrealistic work targets and a high chance of injury. This attrition rate means that ELV operatives spend little time in role becoming experienced and therefore the sector is suffering from a significant lack of proficient staff.


ELV Training is a company founded on supporting the vehicle recycling industry by building competence and capability within it. One of the core motivators for building this online training programme, was to address common training shortfalls in ELV equipment training and traditional handover training. I am all too familiar with reading reports from safety professionals highlighting how important employee training records are in mitigating organisational responsibility when investigating a workplace accident or building a defence against a personal injury claim.


If we are accept that training is fundamental in getting behaviours right in the workplace and provides businesses a defense in workplace incidents, then surely we need to be confident in the quality and completeness of the training provided to employees? Training is not just about teaching you how to do a given activity, keeping you and others safe, or a legal necessity for your business. It should be fulfilling all your business needs, be those compliance necessities, process standardisation, sharing best practice or driving efficiencies in work processes.


Are there disadvantages to workplace training? I am sure there are some but none of these would ever stand-up in a court of law. Trust ELV Training with your depollution and dismantling training and be confident that you have trained your people to be the best they can be. Don't just learn how to use the equipment, learn how to do the job - benefit from safe and compliant training approved by the Industry.


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