“The hopper gates opened.”
“The conveyor system was not shut down or locked out.”
“The conveyor had not been locked out.”
“The employee … was cleaning near a conveyor belt.”
“The employee … caught his shirt on the machine’s power lever.”
These are notes from five of the eleven conveyor-related fatalities reported to OSHA through December 1 in 2020. Of these deaths, nearly all occurred when an employee was performing maintenance or cleaning around equipment that was not shut off and deenergized.
Sadly, none of these incidents had to happen. There is no reason why a machine should be maintained or worked closely around without proper lock-out, tag-out procedures in place. There are also safer alternatives to conveyors with open, moving parts.
BE&E, for example, manufactures SMART Conveyors™, which feature a fully enclosed system and shaft-mounted drives. There are no pulleys. No idlers. No open troughs that employees can climb into. There are no guards because there is nothing to guard against. Hence, when an employee works around a SMART Conveyor™ there is no concern that he or she may get snagged and trapped in the machine. Employees need not even remove panels to inspect the interior of the conveyor, as the conveyors come standard with sealed inspection doors with grated viewing screens.
The enclosed design makes the conveyor even safer by containing dust that could otherwise escape into the air, where it may pose a risk to employees’ health or create an explosion hazard.