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Enhancing safety around crushers

By |  February 16, 2018

An up-close shot of a jaw crusher shows a safety railing and an emergency stop button. Photos courtesy of McLanahan Corp.

Safety requires a proactive attitude to prevent workplace accidents.

Each company or site should have clear safety guidelines outlining best practices for the entire site, as well as when working with crushers. Before even stepping on site to work with your site’s crusher, employees and operators must be trained on all safety procedures of your site and crusher.

For instance, is the operator clear on warning signs to look for, emergency stop locations and appropriate walkaways? Make sure the operator or maintenance personnel perform a hazard analysis before each new operation. Conditions such as time of day, weather and area around a piece of equipment can all affect the operation about to be performed.

It is also a good idea to have a fresh set of eyes look at conditions. Even when someone is experienced and well trained, it is very easy to see the same thing day after day and accept the way things are – or even miss something.

Overall site safety

While the safety aspects of one piece of equipment, such as a crusher, are extremely important, safety starts with companies that prioritize overall safety.

The aggregate industry is heavily regulated, but regulations alone will not make managers, workers, contractors and others safer or better safety stewards. If a company wants to achieve high safety and environmental standards, that company and the communities in which it does business cannot achieve these goals through fear of retribution for non-compliance.

To be successful, the industry must rise above the mentality that it is simply complying with regulations, inspections and penalties, and instead focus on these areas because it is the right thing to do. A good place to start is to provide effective signage, keep the site clean, walk the site daily and maintain quarry faces and haul roads.

Don’t allow yourself to turn a blind eye to a hazard or a hazardous situation. Don’t allow yourself to say, “It’s not my job” or “I’m not the one who left it there” or “someone else will fix it.” Every incident, accident or event should be investigated. Through these investigations, recommendations should be made to improve safety and to prevent the event from occurring again.

It is vital that these recommendations be implemented. Without implementation, sites are destined to repeat past mistakes.

Crusher safety

Photo courtesy of McLanahan Corp.

This rushing station has clearly marked walkways and guards over moving parts.

While new technologies and equipment are emerging every day to make the workplace safer, your best resource is your workforce. It’s not only important to make sure employees are trained on the safety procedures of the workplace, but also on the proper use of their machine.

Untrained, unknowledgeable work staff can lead to an unsafe work environment. Just because a person is on your site working with other equipment doesn’t necessarily mean they are trained on the proper use of a crusher or a breaker. Do they know proper feed size and capacity? Not knowing these can lead to oversized material entering the crusher and cause malfunction.

Safety on a crusher starts with the person feeding the plant. The person feeding the plant needs to be trained on best practices specific to the crusher they are working with. An operator may have years of experience operating and loading a cone crusher, but that doesn’t translate into experience loading and operating a jaw crusher.

Operators need to be trained on what to look for to prevent unnecessary maintenance. Spending the time and resources to train your operator not only leads to a safer workplace, but it ultimately increases production. The safer you are, the more productive you are.

When operators proactively keep their crusher running safely and effectively, they increase production. A couple of minutes spent on cleaning or maintenance can lead to hours of productivity later and an overall safer working machine. Operators should also keep detailed records of maintenance and other issues.

Once you feel confident that your operator is fully trained on a machine and site-specific safety policies, it’s time to talk crushing safety.

Make sure your operator is in protective clothing. Also, when you reach the crusher, make sure all guards and safety devices are in place, secured and functional before operating. Be sure to review and follow all lockout, tagout and tryout procedures for the crusher when performing equipment maintenance, repairs or adjustments.

Additionally, keep your crusher working safely and efficiently by performing regular maintenance inspections. This allows you to pinpoint problems that may make the machine unsafe to use. Some tips to keep a safe crusher:
■ Operate at the appropriate capacity.
■ Keep platforms and areas around the machine clean.
■ Ensure lubrication, flow, temperature, wear and pressure are monitored.

Photo courtesy of McLanahan Corp.

Another crushing plant with clear walkways that are free from debris and proper guards on moving parts.

Safety is something that can be practiced and planned daily, monthly and yearly. Try to make yourself or your workspace safer every day. Clean up hazardous debris. Walk to your workstation a different way to see if you notice anything unsafe.

Remember, good housekeeping is synonymous with a well-organized, professional and safe workplace. Poor housekeeping is synonymous with a disorganized, less professional and hazardous workplace.

In our industry, hazards are everywhere due to the nature of our business and the equipment and tools we use. When less-than-desirable housekeeping practices are present, they add unnecessary hazards to the workplace. Housekeeping takes a lot of time if it is practiced once in a while, but it takes virtually no time at all if it is practiced continuously.

All employees should be expected to practice good housekeeping daily to eliminate unnecessary hazards.

It’s important to make sure your crusher operator follows all operational guidelines and that all safety best practices are in place. But also take the time to make sure your entire site is properly trained on site safety procedures and best practices. Hold regular safety meetings to review new procedures or address any safety concerns. Set yearly safety goals and commend operators on years of safety excellence.

Each person is responsible for safety, and each person can improve the safety of their workplace. Properly trained operators can lead to a safer workplace and increase your production.

Mark Krause is the managing director of North America at McLanahan Corp.

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