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Safe Conveyor Belt Use - October 2017

Unnecessary workplace accidents can occur when employees do not think before they act or avoid taking precautions to prevent accidents. Keeping safety top of mind is especially important when working with potentially dangerous machinery like conveyor belts. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) frequently cites conveyor belt accidents as one of the top preventable accidents in the workplace.

For example, employees at a paper corporation were removing wood and bark chips from underneath a moving conveyor belt and shoveling them back onto the conveyor. An employee went into a narrow opening to remove bark that had accumulated under the belt. When the worker did so, the shovel caught between a roller and the underside of the moving conveyor, and pulled the worker into the machinery. The worker died as a result of the accident. This is an example of an accident that could have been prevented by exercising conveyor belt safety.

Familiarize yourself with the following conveyor belt safety tips.

Before You Start a Conveyor

  • Inspect the area to ensure that no one is performing maintenance, is under the conveyor or within the fall zone.
  • Make sure all guards are fitted and that the emergency stop switch is working properly.

When Working at or Near a Conveyor

  • Wear a hat and safety shoes. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes or jewelry, and make sure that your hair is short or pulled back.
  • Do not walk under a moving conveyor.
  • Never clean belts, pulleys or drums while the machine is on.
  • Do not perform maintenance or repairs while the conveyor is in motion.

When Working at a Powered Conveyor

  • Ensure that you can see the system while you are operating the controls.
  • Follow all lockout and tagout procedures before performing maintenance.
  • Position yourself so that you will not be hit by moving objects.

When Working With an Aerial Conveyor

  • Make sure that machine guards are in place to protect against objects falling on workers below.

General Safety Recommendations

  • Always know the location of start and stop controls.
  • Never step, climb, sit or ride on a conveyor belt.
  • Never alter or remove machine guards.
  • Never overload a conveyor outside of its design limits.
  • Always report unsafe practices to your supervisor.

We’re Counting on You

Conveyor belts make our jobs easier, but must be used in a safe manner at. If you have any questions or concerns about conveyor belt safety or operation, contact your supervisor.