Conveyors may have a number of moving parts and potential nip points, which can make them a dangerous item of equipment.
Risk control measures
During the training of conveyor operators, care should be taken to ensure that each operator understands the safe operation of the conveyor and all safety precautions, including:
- the method of stopping and starting the conveyor
- the hazards in the course of normal working of the conveyor
- the hazards from bad practices, inattention, and misuse
- the purpose of the guard or safety device, and how the guard or device may fail
- informing the person in charge if any faults or defects arise, and the danger to the operator in attempting to correct any faults.
During the training period, a conveyor operator should be closely supervised by a worker with a thorough knowledge of conveyors.
Safe operating procedures
The following safe operating procedures apply to all conveyor installations:
- ensure all START/STOP and emergency controls are clearly marked
- ensure persons working near a conveyor are aware of the location of START/STOP and emergency controls
- keep the area clean and tidy. Good housekeeping eliminates hazards such as tripping, slipping and falling
- isolate and danger tag the power source before working on a bogged or overloaded conveyor
- ensure all persons wear appropriate clothing and avoid loose clothing near moving conveyors
- ensure conveyors are guarded/fenced (if not a walk-under conveyor)
- don’t clean belts, pulleys, drum, trough or return idlers while a conveyor is moving
- don’t ride on a moving conveyor
- don’t repair or maintain a conveyor while in motion. *
* Should repairs, adjustments or tracking be required on a moving conveyor belt without normal guarding, it is important that:
- the work is carried out by an authorised competent person
- an attendant is at the emergency stop station
- the appropriate safe work procedure is in place.
Starting the conveyor
Before you start a conveyor, check to ensure that:
- no personnel are working on the conveyor, and that access platforms are clear (inspect the area to make sure)
- all the guards are fitted
- the emergency stop switches are working and clearly marked
- lanyards are fitted and working correctly
- the warning siren is working
- firefighting devices are in place and ready for use
- all the lights are working and clean.
The most important danger points on belt conveyors are the nip points marked with arrows (see Figure 1 below).
Figure 1: AS 1755 Fig 5.1 – reproduced with permission from SAI Global Ltd under Licence 1408-c056.
Any nip point that is within 2.5 metres of any walkway or access way (i.e. within reach) must be guarded to prevent accidental contact with nip points.
Australian Standard AS 1755: Conveyors – Safety requirements