Conveyor belts are an essential component of many industries, allowing for the efficient transportation of materials and products. However, they can also present potential safety hazards if not operated with care. Therefore, proper safety practices are crucial to ensure that workers are protected while also allowing product and material production to run smoothly.
Common Problems in Conveyor Systems
Before discussing the best safety practices of conveyor belts, let’s briefly discuss a few common problems in these systems and why they may pose a safety threat to your work environment. Above all else, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your conveyor machinery to ensure things are always operating correctly. Otherwise, your system may experience extreme ramifications, opening the opportunity for a workplace injury.
Common conveyor system problems may include:
- Belt Damage: Abrasive or harsh materials may cause rips, tears, frayed edges, and more. Other belt damage can include uneven discoloration or areas that have been stretched.
- Blockages: If items get snagged or piled up on the production line, a blockage in the conveyor system may occur.
- Slippages and Spillages: Belt lagging, worn pulleys, or excessive loads can all lead to materials sliding off the belt during production.
- Mistracking: If the conveyor belt is incorrectly aligned, materials or other items can easily fall off track.
- Seized Rollers: Conveyor system rollers may experience wear and tear over time, potentially forming sharp edges. This can damage items on the conveyor line and create a safety hazard for workers.
- Carryback: This occurs when material builds up and creates a blockage in the system, leading to system malfunction and creating potential safety hazards.
Conveyor system problems can be a headache, but many issues can be avoided if the conveyor system is inspected on a regular basis and maintained well. It’s important to remember that if you fail to inspect and repair conveyor system problems as soon as possible, you may experience long wait times for repair, potentially slowing productivity and directly impacting profits.
6 Best Safety Practices for Conveyor Belt Systems
Conveyor belt systems are crucial in the manufacturing industry, but these systems can pose a significant safety risk if not operated or maintained correctly. For this reason, it’s best to adopt the right safety practices and regulations for conveyor systems to ensure work safety and prevent workplace accidents.
1. Proper Training
All personnel who operate and work near conveyor systems must receive proper training. This training should cover the safe use of the system, emergency procedures, and how to quickly identify and report potential hazards. It is also essential to ensure that all workers understand any risks associated with the conveyor belt system and know how to handle them if problems arise.
One of the most basic safety rules when working with conveyor belt systems is to avoid standing, walking, or sitting on them. Loose clothing or hair should be kept away from all moving parts, as they can easily get caught in the system. If any visitors or other personnel are in the general vicinity of the conveyor system, they should also be warned of potential hazards.
In addition, team members should be familiar with the location of all controls. It’s important to keep them updated on any reconfigurations or equipment upgrades to prevent accidents that may be caused by modifications or misuse.
2. Personal Protective Equipment
All workers who operate or work near conveyor systems must wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This may include safety glasses, gloves, hard hats, steel-toed shoes, and more.
This type of equipment should be provided by employers in the manufacturing space. Workers must wear PPE at all times to prevent injuries from certain hazards, like flying debris.
3. Clear Communication
It’s critical to promote clear communication in the manufacturing space, especially among workers operating conveyor belt systems. Workers need to communicate with each other about the location of moving parts and other potential hazards that can arise. Signs and labels should also be utilized to indicate dangerous areas and provide instructions on safe operation and emergency procedures.
When a worker is starting up the conveyor system, it’s important to issue a warning signal to notify all other workers to steer clear. Additionally, workers shouldn’t hesitate to communicate any potential safety risks to avoid accidents.
4. Guarding and Barriers
Conveyor system guards and barriers are essential to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts. Adequate guarding should be in place at all access points and around any dangerous areas of the system, including during emergency stops. These barriers should never be removed, as they protect workers from internal moving parts or accidental startup.
5. Regular Maintenance and Cleaning
Regular maintenance and upkeep are required to ensure the conveyor system is working properly. This includes inspecting and cleaning belts, rollers, and other components to prevent wear and tear that can lead to malfunctions. Conveyor systems should also be regularly lubricated to prevent friction, and any damaged parts should be replaced immediately.
When performing maintenance on a conveyor system, disconnect all sources of energy such as electric, hydraulic, or air. You’ll also want to always keep the area around the conveyor system clean to reduce the risk of accidents and ensure the proper functioning of the system.
6. Emergency Procedures
In the event of an emergency, workers should know how to shut down the conveyor system in a safe and timely manner. Ensure all controls are visible and accessible to employees for quick action during an emergency so that power sources can be shut down and evacuation procedures can be taken. All workers should also be trained on the proper steps to take during an emergency situation, and these steps should be clearly posted and communicated.
When it comes to your workers, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Contact the industrial experts at IBT today to learn more or schedule maintenance for your conveyor belt system.