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Identifying different metals, sorting and separating them into grades
Working for companies of all sizes, from large multi-nationals to SMEs to family-run independents, the MRGO role will see an individual taking on a wide range of different tasks and responsibilities both outside on the yard and in an office-like environment.
A team player, an MRGO will be charged with handling all types of equipment and will perform the many tasks undertaken in a metal recycling yard. MRGOs will identify different metals, sort and separate them into grades and understand the commercial impact grading has on the organisation; over 100+ different metallic material groups are regularly traded.
Other tasks could involve processing End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV), Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) and Large Domestic Appliances (LDA). The MRGO will develop a knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of processes, site administration, risk assessment as well as legislation relating to metal recycling.
The MRGO will attain the skills to operate industry-specific and generic plant and equipment, such as a forklift truck, shear and cable strippers. Safety will form a key element of the MRGO’s role – they will be expected to work safely within a team to ensure materials are processed and handled in the correct and safest way.
Individual employers will set the selection criteria and specify the entry requirements applicable to the area of work. Typically, employers prefer individuals that already hold GCSE grades C or above in English and maths.
Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for level 2 English and maths prior to taking the end-point assessment.
Apprentices must complete all Core elements and select ONE of the additional options offered.
When a vehicle has reached the end of its life, it has to undergo a rigorous depollution and recycling process, which will be different if the vehicle is damaged. This depollution process must adhere to strict regulations laid out in national and European legislation. Depollution is the critical first stage in a long and complex process, which ultimately requires 95% of every ELV being recovered and recycled.
Throughout the step-by-step depollution process, operatives must continually ensure there is no risk of pollution to the environment and no risk to themselves or their colleagues. As well as identifying and removing parts of worth on the vehicle, hazardous parts also need to be recognised and dealt with in the appropriate manner. The hazardous materials include: batteries, fuels, oils, filters, air bags, air conditioning gas, and catalysts. These materials are hazardous due to differing characteristics, such as being potentially flammable, corrosive, carcinogenic, or ecotoxic.
Understanding and identifying the components and the order of their removal and the appropriate tools to use is critical to mitigating risk and maximising the efficiency of the process. The depollution of air condition units is also covered by additional legislation with operators requiring specific training and qualification for the handling of F Gas (CFCs) from air conditioning units. Once removed, the parts and fluids must be safely stored in appropriate tanks or containers, without exceeding permitted levels.
The weighbridge operator is the first point of contact for deliveries; they also control the dispatch of materials from site. It is one of the most vital roles on a metal recycling site. They are responsible for assessing and valuing the load, making the legislated identification checks and processing the correct payment. This skilled role sees the operator looking for hidden materials and assessing the risk of that load containing hazardous or stolen material. They must also be well-versed in traffic management and be able to safely direct the customer to the correct location on the site.
As the face of the depot, it is essential that weighbridge operators have good communications skills and provide good customer service. They must also have a good grasp of the commercial/pricing requirements associated with the correct classification and grading of metals/materials alongside the need to be accurate in the recording and management of data on weights, grades, prices and customer details.
In addition, the operative needs to understand how to calibrate and check their equipment. They need to be able to quickly identify problems that may adversely affect the weighbridge, such as the build-up of dirt, be it through pre-use checks or the use of check weights. As well as understanding terms such as Tare, Net, Gross Weight, weighbridge operators must also be able to identify and understand the implications of gross vehicle weight (GVW) and how to deal with an overloaded vehicle.
The ability to separate and process different metals of vastly different value is a key skill for an operative in a recycling site as is the ability to move materials safely, quickly and effectively around the site. Separation processes may start manually but they quickly become complex and skilful. Using a grab on a crane for example, a material handler will be able to separate out a single piece of non-ferrous metal from a ferrous pile. They will also be able to load a container or ship to make the most of the space available.
Material handlers will also be responsible in part for site housekeeping, an important part of all good site management. Keeping thoroughfares clear of obstructions and hazards, as well as small fragments of metal and debris which, as well as impeding access to parts of the site, could damage expensive plant and equipment is an important part of the role. As the operator of the plant and equipment, the handler must understand the importance of maintaining that to a high level from performing daily pre-and post-usechecks to following a strict preventative-maintenance and maintenance schedule.
At the same time, material handlers must also have special regard for both colleagues and site visitors. Ensuring the health and safety of others is vital and handlers operating plant and equipment must follow strict procedures to ensure no one is put at risk at any time.
Follow operational procedures to properly complete pre-and post-use checks, keep accurate records and report faults to the appropriate person.
Demonstrate the safe and effective operation of specialist material handling equipment (such as Baler, Shear, Crane and Container Loader) that requires Authorised Operator status or licence (excludes FLT) while taking into account risk assessments and operating procedures.
Demonstrate full regard to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and any other site-based safe working practices.
Clearly describe the different rationales for keeping the site in general, and thoroughfares in particular, clear of obstructions and debris
The value in metal recycling is found in accurately identifying different types of metal, especially alloys. While the first classification will be made by eye, metal recyclers use specialist equipment to identify the properties of any given sample. This can be on site, at a specialist laboratory or even at a customer’s premises. Given the value some metals have, this effective classification process sits at the heart of any viable metal recycling yard.
Metals are initially divided in to two broad categories ferrous (steel, iron) and non-ferrous metals (copper, aluminium, lead, zinc, etc). Within each of these initial categories there are many more grades. Grades are based upon the purity, density and the physical characteristics of the materials. Operatives are required to understand how the grade dictates the value, and how processing may be required to improve these characteristics to further increase value for sale. The appropriate identification is essential to ensure the correct initial price is paid; materials are segregated and appropriately processed to produce a commodity.
When visual classification is not possible, sophisticated analysis is required from scales and balances to measure and determine metallic content to more specialist equipment such as handheld x-ray fluorescence (XRF) ‘guns’. Any use of this type of equipment or any sampling and analysis must take account of calibration and maintenance of the equipment. An understanding of the equipment’s limitations, and how to ensure the measurements made are consistent and where sources of error for example in sampling, may cause problems in the measurement and results.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is a very specific part of the recycling industry. It has its own, dedicated, legislation as well as different mandated processes for different types of equipment. Every step of the dismantling and recycling process is clearly prescribed and operators must have good knowledge of the regulations attached to any given type of WEEE. Operators must also know how to assess any potential for risk associated with handling different types of WEEE.
Many items within WEEE are hazardous and the regulations for treatment require the removal and segregation of individual items and components. Items such as fridges, Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors, require identification and removal/ segregation for separate processing. Components within WEEE also require removal as part of the recycling and recovery processes. The components, including leads and plugs, toner cartridges, batteries, capacitors, printed circuit boards, fluorescent tubes are to be removed as part of the recycling and recovery process.
These processes must be undertaken in a safe and structured way to ensure maximum recovery efficiency. Operatives are required to understand in general terms, including BAT (Best Available Techniques) and BATRRT (Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Techniques). Appropriate storage is important to ensure the intended processing route for WEEE, and for the segregated and removed components, is not compromised.
The Standard will be reviewed after three years or when a significant change is required.