For companies across North America, ISRI’s Spring 2022 Safety and Environmental Conference (ISEC) is a can’t-miss event. The only meeting of its kind that focuses specifically on safe operations and environmental compliance in the recycling industry, ISEC will take place June 14-16 at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch. It’s a “safe space” that encourages like-minded people to speak freely about environmental health and safety (EHS) concerns.

“This conference is as much about making connections and discussing experiences as it is about impactful educational sessions,” says Ryan Nolte, Ph.D., ISRI’s director of safety outreach. “Having the opportunity to engage others in recycling to discuss common issues and potential opportunities for improvement is invaluable for attendees’ personal and professional development.”

Jerry Heitman, safety manager and environmental health coordinator at Sadoff Iron & Metal Co., is a longtime ISEC participant and serves on its steering committee. “[ISEC is] an opportunity to share ideas with one another and to network to solve problems without reinventing the wheel,” he says. “You’re more than welcome to share something with somebody, knowing that the end-all is life preservation and the quality of life, and that all of us are helping somebody—even if they might be on the other side of the nation—further the quality of their work.”

ISRI’s safety team has identified the most critical current topics and expert speakers to engage attendees and offer forward real-world solutions to issues facing the industry every day. The select nature of the group means attendees will hear EHS messages tailored to their companies’ needs.

A panel of industry experts will discuss Serious Injury and Fatality (SIF) Prevention Programs in their respective organizations. Each will share specific information about what makes their program a success, how it was implemented, how to incorporate new employees into such a program, and takeaways for attendees who may not have a SIF prevention program that are interested in starting one.

Officer Randy Fain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol will provide an update on commercial vehicle enforcement. Rapid-fire sessions will cover topics including heat-related illness, and particulate dust in shredder or recycling operations.

David Wagger, Ph. D., ISRI’s chief scientist and director of environmental management, will provide an update on a PFAS regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will affect ISRI members’ stormwater and air permits. There will also be a session on the handling and storage of lithium-ion batteries. An expert from Call2Recycle, a rechargeable battery and cellphone collection program, will present best practices for handling and storage, as well as potential recycling avenues for those who accumulate these types of batteries daily.

For the first time, mental health also will be an ISEC topic. An opening-day presentation by Angela Berra, director of programs at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will focus on how to manage your own mental health, and how to help others such as employees who may be struggling with stress and other factors that can hurt wellbeing. This session will provide techniques on identifying potential issues, dealing with common issues, and how to provide support.

“To think that ISRI hosts such a content-rich conference with some of the best in the industry … is phenomenal,” says Dave Bestwick, director of sales and procurement at Dominion Nickel Alloys and co-chair of ISRI’s Safe Operations Committee. “[ISRI Vice President of Safety] Tony Smith and his team do a really good job of structuring the conference to maximize real take-home value for our company.”

Immediately following ISEC, up to 50 participants will take a four-hour course, “Hazard Recognition: Fire Safety; Prevention in Recycling.” The course was developed to assist employees, team leads, supervisors, plant managers, and senior leadership in understanding hazards associated with fires in the recycling and materials recovery facilities (MRF) environments. Attendees will learn ways to potentially control these hazards.

If you can’t make it to St. Louis, check your social media feed for photos from ISEC. Scrap News and ISRI.org will continue to relate EHS developments in the industry. Registration for the fall ISEC will be here before you know it; check here under the In-Person tab for updates.

Photos courtesy of Dan Hockensmith. Featured photo caption: St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, Gateway Arch and Drury Plaza Hotel, site of the Spring 2022 ISEC.

Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; marketing communications; and nonprofit advocacy.