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Ongoing maintenance reduces risk

Pinch points should be equipped with well-designed guards to prevent accidental or unwise encroachment by employees or visitors.

When times are tight, it’s more important than ever to minimise risk with ongoing maintenance and safety programs that help protect workers, reduce waste and maximise efficiency, says Martin Engineering’s Larry Goldbeck.


Some suppliers will “walk the belt” and provide a state-of-the- system report from

observing it in operation. 16 September 2014 Solids and Bulk Handling

ew would argue with the assertion that a single serious conveyor accident can cost more money and anguish than virtually any safety

program. Most people would also agree that employees in conveyor-related industries deserve to have the safest workplace that is reasonably possible. Yet as downsizing trends advance and the economy continues to struggle, there is a temptation to postpone maintenance activities and safety upgrades in an effort to preserve profitability. Unfortunately, there are a number of subtle expenses that typically result from this approach, ultimately costing far more than the savings from service and safety cutbacks. And many of the concerns are the same issues that conveyor operators first identified in the 1930s. The primary difference is that conveyors are larger, longer and faster in today’s operations, with greater power and risk potential. When coupled with increasing productivity demands, particularly on aging equipment, plant owners can put themselves and their earnings at unnecessary risk. THE PATH TO INJURY

Conveyors apply large amounts of mechanical energy to what is essentially a giant elastic band, stretched tight and threaded through a maze of components. This stretched band is burdened with a heavy load of material and moved at high speed, sometimes with drive motors as large as 600 HP (450 kW). Given the inertia and kinetic energy, enormous forces are involved. The human body, able to generate less than 1 HP, is simply no match. A report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration found that over a recent four-year period, more than 40% of injuries were caused while a worker was performing maintenance or checking a conveyor. Nearly as many more were hurt while the subject was cleaning or shovelling near a moving belt. In another study of more than 200 fatal mining accidents, data compiled by MSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor observed that 48 of those involved conveyors. Activities most often leading to conveyor-related fatalities were maintenance (such as replacing idlers or clearing blockages) and cleanup (including


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