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Conveyor Hazards

Conveyors are used in many industries to transport materials horizontally, vertically, at an angle, or around curves. Types of conveyors may include powered, live roller, screw, drag, and belt conveyors, to name a few.

Conveyor-related injuries typically involve a worker's hands or fingers becoming caught in nip-points or shear points during cleaning, freeing jammed material, or a worker's clothing becoming caught in the conveyor, which pulls the employee into the conveyor.

Conveyor-related injuries can also be caused by improperly guarded gears, sprockets and chain drives, and horizontal or vertical shafts, belts and pulleys, and power transmission couplings.

Workers can also be injured or killed underneath conveyors and in areas around lubrication fittings, tension adjusters, and other equipment with hazardous energy sources.

Belt conveyor drives mechanisms, conveyance-related equipment, and the following belt conveyor areas are considered hazardous:

  • The conveyor take-up and discharge ends
  • Where the belt or chain enters or exits and in in-going nip point
  • Where belt wraps around pulleys
  • Snub rollers where the belt changes direction, such as take-ups
  • Where multiple conveyors are adjoined
  • On transfer or deflectors used with belt conveyors

Hazards associated with nip and shear points must be guarded. Side guards can be installed to prevent employee contract with power transmission components, in-going nip points, and the conveying medium.

Secondary safeguarding methods may include the use of standard railings or barrier fencing, pre-startup signals, and warning signs.


Unguarded in-running point on conveyor pulley

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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