Safety Tips Ergonomics Machinery Materials handling Musculoskeletal disorders

Stay on guard when working with conveyor belts

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When working with conveyor belts, employees should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, proper PPE includes hard hats and safety shoes; also, long hair should be tied back. CCOHS notes that workers need to be aware of a conveyor belt’s emergency shut-off device as well as how to use it.

CCOHS recommends the following tips for workers operating conveyor belts:

  • Ensure all pinch points are properly guarded and guardrails are in place to prevent objects from falling off.
  • Have functioning warning devices located in receiving areas if workers are unable to see packages on the belt.
  • Never stand in a place where you could be hit by material moving down a conveyor belt.
  • Ensure workers operating the controls are able to see the conveyor system.
  • Do not allow workers to climb on a conveyor belt.

To help reduce the adverse ergonomic effects of standing long hours at a conveyor, CCOHS recommends employers provide safe working areas for employees. Among the tips:

  • Fix the conveyor belt to a height appropriate for the tallest worker; provide chairs or adjustable platforms for shorter employees.
  • Ensure workers have enough knee and leg clearance to move.
  • Provide wide, uncluttered aisles so employees can safely move around.
  • Set the belt at a moderate pace.
  • The conveyor’s width should be chosen so that the distance a worker has to reach is within 18 inches from the front of the worker’s body.
  • Provide anti-fatigue floor mats to help alleviate foot and back problems.