Seven ways to simplify screen media selection

By |  October 17, 2022
Alex Caruana


Employee safety is top of mind for plant managers and executives – and rightly so.

In the aggregate industry, there is always potential for workplace injuries with heavy machinery and moving parts. With this in mind, here is a list of safety checks employees should conduct with screening systems.


1. Lock, tag and try. If employees are performing work on screens, lock them out along with their feed and discharge conveyors. It’s key to try the start button after locking out to make sure employees have the right units. If employees are not sure where to lock out, there’s usually a plant diagram in the electrical room – or someone will be happy to show how well they know the plant to help out.

2. Keep it quiet. Synthetic media operates at around 95 decibels. This contributes to screen media safety with less risk of hearing loss and better perception and awareness of what’s happening around the plant.

3. Lighten up. Changing punch plate or wire cloth can be quite the task. It’s large, heavy and unruly to handle. If employees haven’t done it before, think of moving a 4-ft. x 8-ft. section of sharp, heavy, floppy metal inches from the edge of a machine while balancing on 1/2-in.-wide rails with openings below.

Unless employees are heavy-lifting ballerinas, this is no fun. Modular media, however, is an alternative. One person can change a localized area away from fall hazards without creating large open spaces to fall through.

Noise will vary depending on the type of screen media operators select. Photo: Polydeck

Noise will vary depending on the type of screen media operators select. Photo: Polydeck

4. Make it last. It’s no secret that changing screens isn’t fun. So why do it any more frequently than necessary? 

One reason is safety. Place heavy-duty screen media in impact zones and lighter formats in the flow path. This will even out the longest-lasting options along the screen media’s surface and drastically reduce the workload, as well as exposure to maintenance hazards. 

No matter what screen media operators use, options are available for heavy- and light-duty formats to balance wear with open area and throughput.

5. Keep cool. Fire hazards are a reality around screens. Gum rubber chute liners and cast-in-place media and liners are susceptible to starting fires. While all synthetics burn when continuously exposed to flames, options are out there to reduce the risk of fires and ensure screen media safety. Injection-molded media frequently allows a piece of hot steel to simply drop through, for example.

If operators are doing hot work around synthetics, make sure the fire watch includes someone who can see below the work – and not just the workers above who are likely focused on their immediate point of work.

6. Dust it off. Keeping dust down is important to the safety of site staff and neighbors.

Dust can easily blind screens. There’s a multitude of wire and synthetic choices to handle wet, sticky material on screens. Using the right screen media to deal with blinding from dust suppression ensures operators are not sending employees into screens for nasty cleanup jobs as a result of trying to improve their screen media safety in the first place.

7. Make it simple. Make screens simple and easy to deal with. This ensures when it’s time to work on them, it’s likely to get done quicker and more accurately. Simplifying screens with modular media also allows operators to focus on higher-priority tasks like plant automation, optimization and better mine planning.

Alex Caruana is aggregate territory manager at Polydeck.

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