5 Potential Safety Hazards Related to Conveyor Belts

Posted on: 8 June 2017


Conveyor belts are a vital part of many industrial systems. Conveyors are used in mining, manufacturing, food preparation and other sectors.

As important as this equipment is, however, conveyors can also pose threats to the safety of workers around them. Below are five types of potential safety hazards related to conveyors.

1. Debris

As items roll through a conveyor system, the objects could become jostled and knocked off of the belt. Depending on how this jostling occurs, the object could come off the belt at a fairly high speed.

Heavy, small items, like gravel, can cause bumps, bruises or head injuries if they strike a worker who is near the conveyor at the time. Most conveyors have guards intended to contain items that come up off of the belt.

2. Dust

The movement of a conveyor can stir up dust. In large quantities, this dust may cause eye irritation, breathing difficulty or skin irritation.

Because dust clouds cannot always be prevented near conveyor systems, employees should always wear eye protection and respiratory safety gear when the conveyor is carrying a dusty material, like soil, rocks or small stones.

3. Catch and Drag Injuries

If an item catches on the conveyor belt or any of the mechanisms beneath the visible belt, the object will be dragged until it's detached. If the caught item is hair, clothing or personal equipment like a lanyard, the conveyor could potentially drag a person and cause injuries.

4. Fires

Many items carried on conveyors are combustible, such as wood chips, grain and coal. If a spark touches one of these items, the fire could ignite everything on the conveyor.

Additionally, most of the materials used to construct conveyor belts are also potentially flammable. Because the belt itself could catch on fire and make the flames mobile, these fires are particularly dangerous.

5. Lacerations

The machinery around and under conveyor belts has many sharp corners and tight gears. If these sections of equipment are left exposed, an employee could potentially touch them and be cut or pinched.

Most often, these incidents result in laceration injuries that can range from minor cuts to serious emergencies like near-amputations.

If you work around conveyors, always wear the appropriate safety gear and follow protocol to prevent injuries. If you own or oversee a work site that uses conveyors, invest in the safety equipment necessary to protect both your conveyors and your employees from accidents.