Important safety considerations when operating Belt Conveyors

When operation any piece of machinery operators must make sure that they are run in a safe manner to make sure no harm is done to anyone. Zero workplace injuries must be the ultimate goal. Some manufacturing machinery can be automated in a way so that human interaction is not needed. In that case the machine can be completely guarded with an enclosure. The interaction between humans and the machine in general operation in this case is impossible or at least diminished and therefore a safe work environment is given.

Belt conveyors are often a piece of manufacturing machinery that cannot be guarded off completely. They are often used in a way where workers come in contact with them directly.  This is one reason why belt conveyors must be designed and built to the highest relevant safety standards. Off course these safety standards are different depending on which country these conveyors are built in and to which standards they have been made. In general it can be said that developed countries have high safety standards in place where as others have none at all.

As an operator of conveyor equipment or any machinery an employer has the duty to implement them in a safe way. Local laws must be adhered to. It is important to understand that in most cases the responsibility for the safe operation of machinery lies first and foremost with the employer.

It is for this reason that it is often the best and safest way for manufacturing companies to source their belt conveyors from local companies which build their products to all the safety standards required in that area. Another alternative is to source them from a highly industrialized country with high safety standards and then make sure the conveyors meet the local requirements.

In general, belt conveyors have two areas of safety issues. The first would be around the motor and pulley drive assembly. A high quality conveyor unit will have this area completely guarded. The other area are pinch points that mostly arise around the drive and idle rollers as well as any other pinch points.  This is mostly a problem area that cannot be completely eliminated. Pinch points can mostly be reduced to a minimum but remain to a certain point.

There may also be issues arising by incorporating a conveyor with other pieces of machinery. If for instance a conveyor mounts to a static sorting table then a new pinch point will arise between the conveyor and the table.

This is where a risk assessment has to be conducted by the company. Basically, all the equipment has to be studied in its current setup. Problem and safety hazards have to be eliminated and areas that cannot be eliminated totally must be minimized to a reasonable and manageable amount.  Remaining risk areas have to be identified. Staff must be trained accordingly so they can safely operate the equipment.

It must be said at this point that this is a general guide and that local laws must be considered when implementing any machinery.