Waste contractor's guide to recycling construction waste

Staff efficiency at your materials recovery facility


Employees play a vital role within materials recovery facilities in ensuring efficiency.

Hiring materials recovery staff

Using hand sorting ensures the quality of your final product, as humans are still more effective at extracting most objects from the waste flow.

Using agency staff or short-term contracts will offer flexibility as material flow fluctuates throughout the year. However, you should retain core staff to train and motivate temporary workers. Training your permanent employees to operate all the equipment in the materials recovery facility will offer flexibility in case of staff absence.

When recruiting senior staff, you should consider looking outside the waste industry. With similarities to a production line, a manufacturing expert might get more out of materials recovery facility staff and equipment than someone from a waste background.

Motivate and train materials recovery staff

To maximise material recovery, you should keep picking staff motivated, as the job may be routine. You should make working environments well lit, comfortable and safe and consider installing:

  • dust extractors
  • air conditioning and heating units
  • sound systems - to keep workers entertained
  • canteens
  • changing rooms

It is important to give staff regular breaks and, where appropriate, rotate staff between tasks.

You may also consider using a financial incentives scheme to motivate picking staff and other employees such as drivers and maintenance workers.

How and why to monitor staff performance

You must discourage employees from picking items out of the waste flow for personal use - known as totting. Totting can be dangerous and reduces process efficiency, with workers missing recoverable materials.

One way to do this effectively is through a CCTV system in picking cabins and through in-vehicle tracking devices.

Managing health and safety risks effectively

A materials recovery facility can be a dangerous place to work due to:

  • noise
  • conveyors
  • dust
  • dirt
  • hazardous materials
  • vehicle movements
  • heavy machinery

You should do as much as possible to reduce the risk of accidents and consider health and safety advice from outside the waste industry.

You can use these basic measures to reduce the risk of accident:

  • never using personnel to pre-sort incoming waste on the tipping floor in front of mechanical grab
  • implementing a one-way system for skip-trucks
  • clear safety and warning signage translated into other languages when appropriate
  • the availability of two-way radios in all vehicles and at all equipment locations
  • segregated walkways

Your materials recovery facility should not be open to the public as this can increase the likelihood of accidents and obstruct vehicles.