This is the third of a three-part series on facility inspections. Conducting regular reviews of solid waste and recycling facilities help identify potential worker safety hazards before anyone gets hurt.
By Will Flower

Monthly or quarterly inspections of facilities can improve safety and ensure compliance with Federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations. The following checklist can be a helpful guide to inspect transfer stations, recycling facilities, and repair shops.

The checklists can aid the inspection process and ensure that important items are addressed. Trained safety professionals will look beyond the checklist and have the ability to identify concerns that are not on the checklist. The bottom line is that anything that does not look safe should be identified in the inspection report and corrected to avoid injury or disruptions to operations.

Checklist #3
Instructions: A properly trained facility manager, safety manger, supervisor, or team of qualified individuals should conduct safety inspections to verify compliance with each item. Do not rush the
inspection process. Make written notes of all corrective actions needed and the location of safety issues that need attention. Immediately assign corrective actions to appropriate personnel. Follow up to make certain necessary corrective actions have been taken to remove, repair, or replace the non-compliant situation. Once the inspection is complete, sign, date, and file the checklist.


Every facility should have specific locks and tags that are only used for Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures. All employees should be properly trained and familiar with LOTO procedures. Photos courtesy of Will Flower

Transfer Stations

  • Sprinkler system inspection and certification are up to date.
  • Procedures exist to minimize waste on tipping floor overnight and on weekends.
  • Heavy equipment is parked with the battery disconnect switch in the “OFF” position.
  • Rolling stock is parked away from fire hazards and away from the waste pile.
  • Dust control procedures in place. Dust levels should be less than 1/32″ for at least 95 percent of the surface area of the facility (e.g., on I-beams, lighting fixtures).
  • Scale area in good condition including rails, signage, and walkways.
  • Spill kit is properly stocked and easily accessible.
  • Bollards and rails are in good condition and painted with high-visibility paint.
  • Facility lighting is adequate and functional.
  • Camera systems are functional and camera lens are clean.

Materials Handling: Operations

  • Where mechanical handling equipment (payloaders, forklifts, etc.) is used, sufficient clearance exists in aisles, loading docks, through doorways, and where turns are made.
  • Aisles and passageways kept clean and in good repair with no obstructions or trip hazards.
  • Bay doors are marked for height and are in good working order.
  • Storage areas are free from accumulation of materials that constitute hazards (tripping, access, fire, explosion, pests, etc.).
  • Daily equipment inspections are performed on powered industrial trucks (i.e., forklifts, payloaders) prior to each shift.
  • Tire repair equipment (including tire dollies, air impact wrenches, and tire cage) in good order.
  • OSHA tire repair instructions are posted in shop.
  • Signage posted where hearing protection is required.
  • Ventilation systems (e.g., fans) operating properly.

Compressed Air Equipment

  • Air compressors are equipped with pressure relief valves and pressure gauges.
  • All wheels and belts have guards in place.

Machine Guarding

  • Saws are equipped with anti-kickback devices.
  • Radial arm saws arranged so that the cutting head will gently return to the back of the table when released.
  • Power machines (shears, grinders) are properly anchored and have the proper hand guards.
  • Fixed grinders have side guards. Tool rest adjusted to 1/8″ and tongue guard adjusted to within 1/4″ of wheel.
  • Rotating or moving parts of equipment guarded to prevent physical contact (e.g., belts of compressors, fans).
  • Portable fans provided with full guards or screens having an opening of 1/2″ or less.
  • Guards securely fixed to the machine and guard does not create a snag hazard to workers.


  • Dust levels are less than 1/32″ for at least 95 percent of the surface area of the facility (e.g., on I-beams).
  • Dust suppression systems are operable.
  • Electrical boxes and vents are free from dust accumulation.
  • Electrical conduits/boxes are protected and closed.

Baler (If Applicable)

  • Baler interlocks working properly.
  • Bale storage area is secure and stable. (Bales are properly stacked and interlocked. Any stacks of bales outdoors should be no more than four bales high. Stacks of bales that are stored inside should not be more than six bales high.)
  • Walkways in the bale storage area are at least 6 feet wide between bale stacks.
  • Bale wire tie area is properly marked, and a guard/cover is on wire spool to protect workers.

Tarping Station (If Applicable)

  • Steps are clean.
  • Lights are functional.
  • Safety rails are in place.
  • Fall protection systems in good condition and inspected prior to use.


  • Facility has designated and specific locks and tags that are only used for Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures.
  • All employees are properly trained and familiar with LOTO procedures.
  • LOTO devices clearly indicate the full name of the employee applying the device(s).
  • If LOTO is being performed at the time of the inspection, confirm that the proper procedures are followed for that piece of equipment.
  • Confirm that there are written LOTO procedures at the site.
  • Review documentation to ensure that all employees have been properly trained on LOTO procedures. Training and review of LOTO should take place annually.

Welding, Cutting, Brazing

  • Acetylene tank is at proper pressure.
  • Regulators removed when not in use, unless cylinders are attached to a welding cart.
  • Electrodes removed and/or gas valves closed when not in use.
  • Welding curtains, screens and fire blankets are easily accessible and in good condition
  • Welder cables, clamps, and guards in good condition.
  • Torches, regulators, and valves equipped with anti-flashback valves.
  • Compressed gas cylinders (such as propane, acetylene, oxygen, argon) are properly stored, secured, and protected from heat.
  • Cylinders are clearly marked and properly labeled to identify the gas.
  • Empty cylinders clearly marked.
  • Oxygen and acetylene cylinders stored properly and secured, separated by 20 feet and/or with a 60-inch-high, fire-resistant wall.
  • Oxygen and acetylene hoses are clean and free of grease and in good condition.
  • Cylinders not in contact with electrical components (e.g., conduit, wiring, junction box).
  • All valves closed off before cylinder is moved, when the cylinder is empty, and at the completion of each job.
  • Valve protectors used when cylinders are not in use.


  • Electrical equipment such as conduit, panels, and boxes are free from recognized hazards (e.g., defective covers, exposed wires, defective safety switches).
  • Junction boxes have approved covers.
  • The areas in front of all electrical panels, disconnects, transformers are clear and free of clutter and debris.
  • Electrical panels and shutoffs are properly labeled with voltage or other ratings as necessary.
  • Lamps for general lighting are protected from accidental breakage.
  • Outlet electrical boxes, covers, and faceplates are in good condition.
  • Temporary wiring/cords are protected from damage or strain.
  • Temporary wiring (including extension cords) is not running under rugs or through doorways.
  • Extension cords are only being used for temporary work.
  • Damaged cords are removed from service.
  • Electrical circuit breakers identified and labeled with voltage.
  • Electrical cords, extension cords, and work lights are in good condition.

Addressing Safety Issues
Once the checklist is complete, the results should be reviewed at staff meetings to ensure that issues are addressed and corrected in a timely manner. People must be given assignments to correct deficiencies and report back when corrections are made. Common or repeat issues can help the safety manager, maintenance manager, and site manager determine areas where additional training or new equipment is necessary.

Over time, facility inspections should become easier as employees become better trained and as the number of potential hazards
decrease. The goal is to have a robust inspection program that can identify safety issues and immediately correct problems. | WA

Will Flower is the Senior Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Winters Bros. Waste Systems.
Share your safety tip. Submit your suggestions to Will Flower at [email protected]