CONVEYOR BELT SAFETY

by pat brownlee on December 21, 2010

Conveyor belts are one of the most effective means of transporting bulk materials.  Because persons are working with a movable piece of equipment, there is a very serious chance of  injury or death if employees are not trained on how to work around conveyor belts.  Training is the basic and most fundamental part of preparing employees on how to keep themselves safe in all industrial settings.  Management must convey all safety issues to their new employees and be certain that they understand about how dangerous the equipment that they will be working from can be.  

Listed below are some general requirements from Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • An audible signal shall be sounded immediately before starting up the conveyor.
  • If operating station is at a remote spot, similar provisions for stopping motor or engine shall be provided at the motor or engine location.
  • There should be an emergency stop switch arranged so that the conveyor cannot be started again until the actuating stop switch as been reset to running on the “on” position.
  • Screw conveyors shall be guarded to prevent employees’ contact with turning flights.
  • Guards shall be provided to protect employees required to work below the conveyors that pass under work areas, aisles or thoroughfares.  Those crossovers, aisles, and passageways shall be conspicuously marked with suitable signs.
  • Conveyors shall be locked out or rendered inoperable and tagged with a “Do Not Operate” tag during repairs and when operation is hazardous to employees performing maintenance work.
  • All conveyors in use must meet applicable requirements for design, construction, inspection, testing, maintenance and operation as prescribed in ANSI B20-1-1957, Safety Code for conveyors, cableways and related equipment. 

Conveyors contribute to the one of the most common ways of being injured.  When visitors are in the facility, they should be informed of the ways to be safe around conveyors and other moving equipment. 

Other important rules regarding conveyor belt safety are:

  •          Only authorized maintenance personnel should service conveyors.
  •          Never ride, step, or sit on a conveyor belt at any time.
  •          Never remove guards.  They are there as protection from moving parts, such as gears and chains. 
  •          Know the location of start/stop controls, and keep the area free from obstructions.
  •          Clean only when the conveyor is stopped.
  •          Report all unsafe practices to your supervisor.
  •          Never load a stopped conveyor or overload a running conveyor.  This will assist in preserving your equipment, as well as not overheating it. 
  •         Trying to clear converter jams can create unsafe conditions and possibly damage equipment.
  •         Use correct lifting techniques.  Unsafe position and posture  could cause injuries while working around conveyors.
  •         Be sure the area is clear of debris and tripping hazards.
  •         If persons work beneath conveyors, there should be nets installed to catch any falling items. 
  •         Maintenance should never be performed on the conveyor until all hydraulic, electric and gravity energy sources    have been locked out and blocked.
  •          It is recommended that the right Personal Protective Equipment be used, relevant to the task and work area.  Gloves that furnish good grip are needed for handling bulky items, safety glasses should be worn when the materials on the belt are hazardous, and safety back supports will assist workers required to do lifting.
  •          Keep hair, loose clothing, fingers, and all body parts away from the conveyor belt. 

Anyone who does this type of work knows that it isn’t like the old “I Love Lucy” episode when Ethel and Lucy were working at the candy factory  and couldn’t keep up, when the conveyor belt started going faster.  They tried to eat the candy and hide it in their aprons!   This is a very serious occupation and those companies that train their employees to be vigilant toward safety are to be commended.  It requires a good safety plan, excellent training, and dependable supervision to be successful in protecting conscientious workers.

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