Adding safety, security around conveying systems

By |  October 8, 2019

Equipment manufacturers provide safety tips to employ around your conveying and material handling.

Emphasizing e-stops

Headshot: Tom Koehl, Superior


Being able to immediately shut down the system can make the difference, says Superior’s Tom Koehl

First and foremost, make sure your crew understands all the dangers related to conveyor systems. If you’re unable to offer this training in-house, most manufacturers will visit your site to train.

E-stops (emergency pull cords) are relatively inexpensive. Engaging an e-stop quickly shuts down the entire system. If I see my buddy slip and fall, I want to be able to grab an e-stop at any point along any conveyor in my plant and stop production.

It’s definitely not intentional, but it’s common to see guarding missing once the conveyor is at work in the field. Many times, the guard is sitting nearby but just didn’t get replaced – or it’s misplaced altogether.

Tom Koehl is conveyor application engineer at Superior Industries.

Creating a safety culture

Headshot: Chris Kimball, Kimball


Safety starts with proper training and responsible personnel, says Belt Tech’s Chris Kimball

Safety needs to be a multi-pronged plan.

Various things such as installing equipment guards and emergency stops are important, but more can be done to eliminate the need for employees to be in close proximity to the belt in the first place. For instance, installing automatic lubrication systems and properly designed belt cleaners.

While minimizing or eliminating hazards is a must, conveyors by their very nature are going to present potential dangers. Therefore, having a comprehensive safety program that not only educates new hires and veteran employees but encourages the proper mindset is absolutely essential.

Training can include practical things such as safe practices around belt conveyors, using personal protective equipment, proper shoveling techniques, belt-tracking procedures and more.

However, of equal or greater importance is eliminating hazardous attitudes that can lead to accidents. That means creating a culture where safety is a habit and workers want to look out for each other.

Getting to that point isn’t just a matter of teaching required company policy. It means helping workers understand the why and how.

The cost of training and upgrades to a conveyor system can be extensive, but they are easily offset by a reduction in accidents and unplanned shutdowns.
Keeping workers safe and conveyors running smoothly isn’t just a good practice; it means having a more efficient system overall and greater profitability in the long run.

Chris Kimball is COO at Belt Tech.

The benefits of proper training, awareness

Headshot: Steve Cook, Martin Sprocket


Martin Sprocket’s Steve Cook says safety teaching and training are essential to the workplace

When it comes to safety, training is a fundamental part of the process.
Through training, producers can create a safety culture that will funnel down to all levels of the organization. Holding regular safety meetings to discuss a relevant safety topic is an effective way to develop a safe culture and ensure it is at the forefront of every conversation.

In addition to safety training, it is important that every member of the organization feels empowered to stop any and all work that is being performed in an unsafe manner. With empowerment comes a sense of responsibility, and this increases awareness of the safety culture created by the management of the organization.

In addition to training and culture, it is essential that at every point of potential maintenance, a lockout and tagout station is visible and easy to access. Whenever work is performed, the maintenance technician should lock out the energy source to the equipment and the key must remain with them at all times. Once the work is complete, the maintenance technician must be the person to remove the lock from the lockout station.

Steve Cook is general manager of the idler and pulley division at Martin Sprocket & Gear.

Leave no stone unturned

Headshot: Jeff Poe, PPI


PPI’s Jeff Poe offers a checklist of safety measures to be aware of

1. Require bright florescent shirts to be worn at all times while on the jobsite.

2. Require regular safety training whenever maintenance is planned.

3. Require personal protective equipment (PPE) – hard hat, safety glasses, ear plugs, reflective clothing, gloves, etc. Proper PPE is essential for worker safety and prevents serious injuries.

4. Require pre-work meetings for all parties working in the same area or on the same conveyor. Area awareness is key – everyone needs to know what is going on around them.

5. Prohibit loose shirts or clothing. Loose clothing can be caught by a passing mechanical splice in a conveyor belt and could result in the worker being pulled into the conveyor belt.

6. Provide warning alarms minutes before a conveyor will start up.

7. Remember lockout/tagout/try out

8. Require OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 training for all employees.

9. Never shovel or work closely around a moving conveyor belt.

10. Provide emergency stop pulley cords along the length of every conveyor.

Jeff Poe is field engineering manager at Precision Pulley & Idler.

Guarding against potential hazards



Ensure conveyor guarding can mitigate safety risks, says Van der Graaf’s Matt Lepp

One of the most common issues related to safety as seen across aggregate manufacturers is the guarding of moving components in a conveyor system.

A typical conveyor drive system has numerous rotating parts resulting in pinch points – the drum, shafts, pulleys, v-belts and chains, couplings, etc. All require guarding and are frequent points of contention with the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA). Eliminating these components and their associated risks will go a long way to increase safety and reduce potential MSHA violations.

Producers should take advantage of the new technologies available to them to help eliminate the risks associated with older drive designs.

For example, drum motors enclose all moving drive components inside the shell and are mounted on static, non-rotating shafts, eliminating pinch points and rotating components outside of the conveyor frame. With no guarding requirements other than the drum itself, the potential for MSHA-related violations is greatly reduced.

Additionally, the space saved by eliminating the external drive components can improve mobility around the drive area and access to other components.

Matt Lepp is heavy industry drive specialist at Van der Graaf.

Consistent checkpoints to be aware of

Headshot: Kirby Cline, Masaba


Masaba’s Kirby Cline recommends daily checks of safety equipment

The mission of every aggregate producer should be to ensure that every employee goes home safely each and every day.

To prevent injury to operators and others, never operate any machinery without all guards and housing properly installed and in good working condition. You should also ensure the following safety elements are used and inspected daily to confirm they are in proper working condition: emergency stop switches and cables, start-up horns or sirens, return roll guards and cages, under tail pulley guarding, inside truss guarding on conveyors with catwalk, discharge chutes at the head end of conveyors with catwalk, hydraulic safety valves for folding conveyors, direct drive motor/reducer, and motorized drive pulleys.

Only qualified personnel should operate equipment and should always read and follow the safety instructions in your owner’s manuals.

Kirby Cline is western territory manager at Masaba.

Covering all of your bases

Be aware of machine specifications and safety standards, says Luff’s Perry Fell

Aggregate producers should always follow safety legislation and company and manufacturer standards and specifications.

Proper guarding should always be in place, employees should be provided specific training on how to perform maintenance safely, and they should also be given required personal protective equipment.

Here are some of the specific actions and measures to take for safely conducting equipment checks and maintenance.

1. Conduct pre-operational checks on portable conveyors, while stopped, by using personal protective equipment; ensuring guards are in place and secure; ensuring pull cords are in place, secure and operational; checking trip switches, drive belts, chains, head, tail, take-up pulleys and idlers; checking lubricant levels; checking conveyor belts and accessories; checking conveyor supports, chutes and frames; checking for spills and obstructions; checking hoses; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

2. Perform maintenance on non-moving portable conveyors, by following lockout and tag procedures; splicing and repairing belt as required; lubricating components; replacing rollers as required; removing excess spills; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

3. Start up portable conveyors by activating the startup alarm; ensuring related systems are activated in sequence; activating start button(s), including remote and local; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

4. Conduct operational checks on portable conveyors and components, by checking for unusual noises and smells; checking control switches; checking fluid levels; checking belt condition, including alignment and tension; ensuring pull cords are in place, secure, and operational; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

5. Lock out and tag portable conveyors for repair or maintenance by shutting down the portable conveyor; isolating power supply; ensuring zero energy; shutting off breaker/disconnect; attaching a lock and tag to the isolation bar or scissor and tagging; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

6. Lock out and tag portable diesel equipment, by isolating the power supply; ensuring zero energy; ensuring the clutch is locked out; attaching a lock and tag to the isolation bar or scissor; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

7. Shut down portable conveyors in an emergency situation, including fire and injury, by activating a pull cord; depressing the stop button or switch; deactivating related systems and/or following other emergency procedures; reporting incidents; and repairing and/or reporting deficiencies according to safety legislation, company standards and manufacturer specifications.

Perry Fell is territory manager of the Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic region at Luff Industries.

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