Health and safety is imperative for engineering and manufacturing companies. If safety regulations aren’t properly employed, fines can be imposed, companies can be sued and more importantly, staff members can risk injury or even death.

Shredders are often sizeable bits of machinery, but even if they are smaller models it is not to be forgotten that they are dangerous bit of kit if not used properly. Of course, when they are used by an operator that has been trained and in a safe way, shredders can assist in easily reducing the size of large and otherwise useless bits of plastic, wood, aluminium, textile and rubber into pieces which can be recycled and sold on.

Danger in the waste sector

When operators have not been fully trained on the use of a shredder, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, there have been a number of incidents where operators have been killed by misuse of a shredder. In the year 2016/2017 there were sadly seven fatal accidents due to contact with machinery within the waste sector (HSE report In this year the waste industry was declared the most dangerous industry to work in, ahead of construction. These deaths were seven too many and each could be avoided with the correct operator safety training.

Serious consequences: fines and even prison

Within the waste sector as a whole, although there were fewer prosecutions taken in 2016/17, the statistics show an increase in fines to £69.9m from the 2015/16 total of £38.8m. New sentencing guidelines in England and Wales were introduced in 2016 with 554 prosecuted, twenty of which were large fines accounting for £30.7m of the new figure.

What should operator training include?

Be sure that the training your team are given is adequate to pass insurance requirements and certificates are given out to prove that the training has been conducted and operators have passed H&S tests.

Operator training should cover: the basic fundamentals of the shredder, its operation and its basic function. All safety devices and features should be highlighted along with areas which require basic checks before operating the shredder. This should act as a preventative measure from both a health and safety perspective and to improve the longevity of the shredder and avoid breakdowns. Operators should be trained with each new shredder that is installed as they may have different safety functions and features.

Visual checks should be signed off before each use. Operators will be taught how to make these checks but it could include checking no metal is in the machine before it is started up, if it is a wood shredder for instance. These sort of checks will ensure that the shredder is operating as it should be and doesn’t start to breakdown, which is when some accidents can occur, as staff may start to look inside the machine to identify the problem and forget to turn the machine off and either fall in or get their arm caught.


A new machine will need to be commissioned as standard. This means that after it being installed it should have a couple of days running then it should be looked at again by engineers and run through again with any snags identified.

There are a few things you need to be aware of when a machine is commissioned, and you should insist on all of these points occurring in order for your insurance to be valid and your machine to be efficient.

  • Operators should be fully trained on the following categories: general machine operation, knives, screen, gearbox, drive belts, fluid clutch, controls, loading and magnets, maintenance and general health and safety
  • Enlist one employee with the responsibility of training other staff, such as the factory or operations manager and when they leave, ensure this responsibility is passed to a current employee, so someone is always fully trained and can pass on their knowledge. Our customers often have agency staff operating machines, and this can lead to a high turnover of staff, leaving no one on site with experience and knowledge of safe machine operations
  • Each employee who is trained has signed a document and this is kept safe. This is imperative for insurance purposes and will act as a reminder of who can safely operate the machinery. If you’re buying pre-owned, the same rule applies. Still get staff trained and the machine installed and serviced properly.
  • Book a knife assessment on your shredder for three months after installation so that it can be ascertained as to when the next knife turn needs to be made, keeping through-put at its maximum
  • Ask for manuals and brochures for the machine that has been purchased. Sometimes manuals hold the key to a simple fix rather than having to ring a service manager or ask for a call out which could cost you money but take you just five minutes if your staff had the know-how
Points to remember

Operator training is a must to avoid staff injuries and fatalities. It is also key for insurance purposes and to avoid HSE fines.

The training is conducted by a Weima trained qualified engineer and should be done as the machine is being installed. Be sure to keep certificates and manuals for insurance and future reference and don’t be afraid to insist on these upon completion or purchase.

Refresher training for staff who have been trained previously but may be getting rusty can be given. This ensures efficiency in how the shredder is operated is always high and a machine won’t get worn out quicker than it should do. We all forget things or get into bad habits and a quick refresher training can ensure that everyone is up to date and a shredder is being used as it should be.

What next?

Fercell has a dedicated Service Manager, Rob Woodhouse, who can book your company in for either a refresher training course or for a full operator training session for the whole of your team.

Drop him an email today: or call him directly on 01622 882920.

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