Conveyor belts don’t seem like much. Compared to crushers and screening machines, belts seem rather harmless and easy. But in some industries, belt speeds range from 200 to 500 feet per minute, which can go more than eight feet per second. For the average person, the time needed to react is about one second.
Getting pulled up to eight feet is enough time to draw your hand, arm, or loose clothing into a pinch point before you can react. To avoid serious injury, here are some ways you can work safely on a conveyor belt.
Know the Rules
Before you touch heavy equipment like conveyor belts, make sure you are fully trained and educated on the proper safety procedures. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with deadlines and stressful work environments, which can lead to cutting corners on safety policies and processes. Also, before using a conveyor belt, be sure to know where the emergency shut-off is.
If you feel undertrained or unqualified to work near certain types of conveyor belts, notify your manager and request proper training. If you’re concerned with retaliation, consider weighing the importance of your health and safety with your job.
If the belt breaks down and you need to make a repair, be sure the belt is locked out. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the belt should also have a sign reading “Do Not Operate” while the belt is under repair.
Protection is Pivotal
When operating or repairing a conveyor belt, loose clothing shouldn’t be worn. And remember never to lean over or across a conveyor to retrieve an item, because it increases the chance to be injured. Be sure to know your employer’s requirements for safety clothing before operating the conveyor belt.
Also, especially when repairing a conveyor belt, OSHA recommends that you should consider wearing safety equipment like hard hats and closed-toed shoes. Hard hats can protect a blow to the head when working below a conveyor belt. Safety glasses should also be worn to prevent pieces of debris from hitting your eyes.
Your employer is responsible for having all conveyor equipment carefully checked to ensure that guarding is provided for all exposed power transmission equipment and that guarding is maintained.
Don’t Make it a Hairy Situation
Loose clothing shouldn’t be the only thing kept away when working on conveyor belts. If you have long hair, make sure to keep it tied up and securely tightened on your head or in a safety hat. It’s best to keep it from hanging because it’s possible for hair to get caught in the belt, which can lead to head injuries. Accessories like jewelry or any item of clothing that could potentially be caught in the machinery shouldn’t be worn while working.
Being safe doesn’t have to interfere with your productivity and can actually improve it in the long run. Conveyor belts don’t have to be dangerous situations if you’re smart, follow safety procedures, and avoid wearing lose clothing and accessories.