How to Stay Safe While Visiting a Scrap Recycling Center


Whether it’s your first time visiting a Cohen Scrap Recycling Center to sell your scrap metal, or you’ve been coming for years, there’s never a bad time to brush up on basic scrapyard safety. There are some important do’s and don’t’s that visitors should keep in mind to ensure their safety while using one of our facilities.

Scrap Recycling Centers involve a lot of moving parts and machinery.

Like many sectors of the commercial manufacturing industry, metal recycling requires moving a lot of material around every day. Every piece of equipment we use to process and move metal introduces new potential hazards.

Many vehicles criss-cross our properties every day.

  • Drive-thru customers come in to drop off everything from a small bag of cans to a whole pick-up truck or flatbed trailer of appliances.
  • Commercial trucks, belonging to Cohen or to customers and contractors, transport the scrap between destinations, and pass over scales as they enter and exit.
  • You could also cross paths with an excavator, a wheel-loader, a skid steer, or a forklift on your visit.

Then of course, there’s the metal itself. Scrap is often sharp and heavy, making it even more dangerous when it’s in motion, and especially if you’re not paying attention.

People Powered Recycling means protecting people first.

Safety is a core value at Cohen. Everyone is expected to watch out for each other – and that includes watching out for our customers. We do everything we can to protect you, from directional signs and safety barriers, to hygiene and sanitation protocols, to 24/7 security cameras, to routine sweeps of highly trafficked areas with our giant excavator-mounted magnet to pick up loose debris.

There are simple things you can do to maintain your personal safety at scrap recycling centers, too. Here are some essential safety guidelines that every scrap yard visitor should know and practice:


When you enter our property, drive directly to the drive-thru entrance or the truck scale, depending on whether you’ve brought non-ferrous or ferrous scrap. Cohen employees will guide you from there.

Only people who are actively unloading material should be outside of the vehicle at any time. Do not allow passengers, especially children, to exit the vehicle or wander outside of the cashier area.

Clean your scrap before arriving.

Customers are not permitted to break down or clean scrap in our parking areas or drive-thru’s. This policy helps us avoid excess debris, customer service delays, potential injuries and property damage, and people being outside their vehicles in busy areas.

Watch (and listen) where you’re going.

Many hazards are easily avoided if you stay attentive to your surroundings. Walking through an active scrap yard is not a time or place to be looking at your phone or scale ticket, listening to headphones, or talking on the phone at the same time.

Scrap yards are exposed to the elements along with heavy foot and vehicle traffic. Watch where you step in case of ice, mud, holes, or debris.

While our drive-thru’s and offices are accessible to the public, most of the rest of our property is restricted to employees only. Do not cross into unauthorized areas without a Cohen escort.

When on foot and where applicable, always enter and exit the cashier area through the pedestrian access and NOT the vehicle lanes, even if you do not see anyone coming.


Closed-toed shoes are recommended for Cohen customers when outside their personal vehicles. Eye protection and gloves, while not required, can give you extra protection when handling scrap, and bright or reflective clothing makes you more visible to those around you.


Drive very slowly anytime you are traveling around our property. Every Cohen Recycling Center’s layout is different; some are wide open while others are tightly arranged, and the traffic flow is unique to each. Look out for signs or employees to point you in the right direction.

Park only in the marked Visitor Parking area, and watch out for other customers moving through the drive-thru and parking areas.

Use extra caution when exiting one of our indoor drive-thrus, especially on very sunny days. The sudden change in light can impair your vision for a moment, and there could be people walking or driving (or stopped/parked) in these areas.

Occasionally you may experience a wait while other customers are unloading. If you find you cannot stay until your turn, please use caution exiting the line. Do not drive in the opposite direction of traffic or attempt to drive through another part of the yard. If it is urgent that you leave and you find you cannot do so safely, you may flag down a Cohen employee or call the office from your car and we will help you navigate your exit.


Keep as wide a distance from our industrial vehicles and equipment as you reasonably can. Do not touch equipment that is parked or not in operation.

If the equipment is in operation, do not approach or walk around it in any direction if the operator cannot see you, even if it is not moving. Make eye contact with equipment operators and drivers and give a visual signal to make sure you are seen if you need to cross their path or pass within range of them.

If the equipment’s reverse alarm is sounding, do not approach it and remove yourself from its path if necessary, as quickly as possible.

Forklift drivers will beep the horn when coming around blind corners or reversing. Listen for this signal and make sure a forklift driver can see or hear you if you’re in or near their path.


Some people may look at a pile of scrap and see a jungle gym or a summit to conquer. Others might spy something in the pile that they want to take home.

Please do not step on, climb, wade into, or otherwise get into the scrap piles. The best you can hope for is shredded skin and clothes, and it could easily be a whole lot worse. While there is a certain art to how we stack scrap, the laws of physics still apply, and material can shift unexpectedly if moved or stepped on. And you can imagine what might happen if a grapple operator with a claw full of scrap isn’t aware that someone is rummaging around on the other side of the pile they’re about to add to.

If you find you have accidentally unloaded something that you wish to retrieve, please inform the scale operator or office immediately.


Yard managers are required to record accidents and injuries involving people or property that occur at our facilities. If you experience an accident or a medical event that requires first aid or immediate attention, please notify the nearest Cohen personnel. Emergency services will be called in the event they are needed.

Cohen facilities are equipped with essential emergency first-aid materials. Cohen employs many people certified in CPR and first aid, including at least one at each yard.

If you have any questions or concerns about the safety conditions or employee behavior you observe at a Cohen facility, please first contact the manager of that facility. Each location’s phone number can be found here. You can also call the main office at (513) 422-3696.

8 tips for safe recycling at a scrap recycling center

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HAPPY EARTH WEEK! Get paid more for your scrap at Cohen the week of April 22nd.