Conveyor Safety - Are You Running A Safe Operation?Conveyor Safety - Are You Running A Safe Operation?

You can never be too careful in the workplace. In any factory setting or location where heavy machinery operates there is the very real risk of injury and malfunction. Managed by humans, sometimes mistakes can be made and oversights will happen. Regardless if it is by accident or careless actions, the consequences for not paying attention while on the job can be deadly. One of the most dangerous occupations of the work place is employee conveyor engagement. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that well over fifty deaths take place a year as a result of conveyor negligence or mishap.

Although conveyors can be great efficiency boosters and cost saving mechanisms, when implemented improperly they at times can do more harm then good. As workers compensation claims become more burdensome and insurance costs unfold at steeper rates, it is now more important then ever to take workplace safety seriously. By looking at some of the common safety rules and reviewing the more dangerous parts of the conveyor we might be able to establish a better fundamental understanding of how to cut down on workplace mishaps.

Rules are not meant to be broken in the land of conveyor systems. One cautionary note that should not be forgotten is to make certain the machinery is turned off and disconnected prior to the performance of any maintenance. When the need to service your system arises, use only thoroughly trained personnel who are expert in what they are working on. This is not the place for trainees or the merely curious. Another simple but necessary precaution is to remove all loose objects from around the machine. This also includes things like hair, baggy clothing, jewelry or whatever to avoid any tangling with the machinery.

It is also key to remember that a conveyor is not a toy. Riding, sitting, or leaning on production conveyors is never recommended. Any type of action that overloads the conveyor or uses it out side of its intended job is highly discouraged. To assure safety, authorized employees should be the only ones allowed to control the system at any time. Safety guards and protectors should not be tampered with and all possible obstructions should be eliminated before use. Conveyors are complex working mechanisms whose power should not be taken lightly. Lets take a look at some of the more powerful and dangerous aspects of this productivity enhancer.

The nature of conveyors is that their mechanical parts are exposed, which should cause concern to those who work with them. Some of the more dangerous parts are the power transmission, the guard joints and transfer mechanisms. Then there are what is known as "squeeze" or "nip" points. These are the junctions where moving parts come together, where breaks or changes to the system may incur opportunities for items to be snagged or jammed. Any area on the line where things can spill, jam, pinch or shear are troublesome spots as well. Dead spaces and blind spots are also cause for caution and concern.

Common sense with awareness and caution remain the foundation of any good safety policy when working around open machinery of any type. Any part of the conveyor system that poses a potential risk should be marked with signage and clearly blocked off. No matter how your system is utilized, it is critical to take all measures you can to protect your employees who come in direct contact with the belts, drives and processes.

If you ever see any misconduct at the work place it is wise to report the violations immediately to a supervisor. Although it may feel like telling on someone or cause a rift in a relationship, nothing is worth the risk of losing life or limb. If you are in anyway responsible for operating or utilizing a conveyor then it is a best practice to read and review as many conveyor manuals and articles related to safety.
by Paul Timmerman
References and Bibliography
Visit Wilkie Brothers Coveyors for more information on conveyors or to order Automatic Systems Replacement Parts, Acco Replacement Parts or any other related replacement parts.
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