Preventing belt accidents

By |  September 22, 2016

Have you ever wondered how much an accident costs a company? Unfortunately, there is usually no easy way to determine that exactly, but nearly every workplace accident is sure to affect a company’s bottom line – sometimes significantly.

Usually managers underestimate the impact of a workplace accident because it generates some hidden costs. Even though the magnitude of the hidden costs may be greater than the visible costs, these hidden costs are often difficult to calculate with a conventional accounting system.

A good way to measure this is with reactive and proactive indicators. The former is directly related to the accident expenses and the second to prevention expenses. Both indicators should be used in measuring the return on safety investments and the effectiveness of safety management.

Those unfortunate situations are more expensive than managers realize owing to hidden costs, such as the cost to train and compensate a new employee, investigate the accident or implement corrective action. Accident costs could be compared to an iceberg, where the visible cost is only the small portion that can be seen.

According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, every dollar spent on prevention can lead to $3 to $6 in loss avoidance. By conducting an accident total cost analysis, the impact of accidents on the company’s profit becomes more apparent. Hence, with a clearer focus on the net return on safety and health investments, management can make more informed decisions regarding accident prevention expenditures.

Conveyor belts

A number of accidents involving conveyor belts can be attributed to accessibility to danger zones. The majority of these occur during maintenance activities with conveyors still in operation and danger zones unprotected. Preventative measures must be implemented in order for work on or near conveyors to be performed safely.

Based on information collected from 85 serious or fatal accidents involving conveyor belts, the majority of them (55 percent) involved head or tail drums or drive mechanisms (see tables to the right).

Once hazards have been identified, they must be eliminated by implementing the following control measures:

  • Eliminate or reduce the hazard through design methods.
  • Install safeguards or protective devices for each hazard that cannot be eliminated or reduced through design methods.
  • Inform workers of all hazards.

Conveyors must be constructed in such a way as to not allow access to danger zones or, by default, must be equipped with guards and protective devices.

Information for this article is courtesy of Luff Industries.

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