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MSHA issues alert for stored energy in belt conveyors

Left photo: A general laborer was fatally injured when he was caught between a 72-inch wide belt and the steel frame of the belt tailpiece. Right photo: A belt foreman was fatally injured when a longwall belt conveyor take-up unit component, the bridle, broke and struck him.

Arlington, VA — Spurred by recent deaths and injuries caused by the sudden release of energy from belt conveyor systems, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

MSHA describes two fatal incidents since 2019. In one, equipment on a longwall belt conveyor broke and struck a belt foreman. The other incident occurred when a worker got caught between a 72-inch-wide belt and the steel frame of its tailpiece.

Best practices for safe operation include:

  • Develop safe work procedures – including lockout/tagout, blocking against motion and securing the belt conveyor – that eliminate or safely control stored energy in belt conveyors.
  • Ensure belt conveyor moves, maintenance and repairs are performed with the correct replacement parts, proper tools and suitable rigging.
  • Educate miners on the safety aspects and safe work procedures for moving, maintaining and repairing belt conveyors.
  • Instruct miners to stay in safe locations while in a belt conveyor entry – away from the belt drive and take-up winch – when starting or stopping the belt.
  • Install properly designed safety restraints for moving parts such as movable carriages, bridles and take-up sleds in case primary components fail.
  • Perform a risk assessment before beginning work to identify and control stored energy: mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravity.

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