Bulk material solids conveyors are mechanical and electrical devices with many moving parts. As such, they present a safety hazard for persons who either operate or work close to the equipment. It is therefore important for all companies that use conveyors to ensure that workers are well-versed in conveyor safety and that the applicable safety policies and practices are always followed in the workplace.
The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) has developed and published a set of safety guidelines for bucket elevators and other conveyor types. As a leading manufacturer of continuous bucket elevators, UniTrak fully subscribes to these bucket elevator safety practices and we have reproduced some of them below together with additional insights and practices which we recommend to our customers.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #1: Allow only authorized and fully trained personnel to operate and maintain the bucket elevator at all times. Even in this age of automated machine controls, bucket elevators are complex pieces of machinery that require a high degree of knowledge to operate and maintain. Allowing minimally trained personnel to operate or maintain the elevator greatly increases the risk of a safety incident occurring. Operating and maintenance personnel should be fully trained to follow the equipment manufacturers’ recommended guidelines for operating and maintaining the equipment to avoid an unwanted safety incident.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #2: Ensure that all personnel are clear of the elevator before start-up. A bucket elevator should never be started with personnel in contact with the equipment. Because an elevator consists of moving chains, belts and buckets, the risk of entrapment is high. Equipment start-up should always be done with all personnel clear of the machine.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #3: Keep clothing, body parts and hair away from the elevator. Loose clothing and hair can become entangled and entrapped in a moving elevator, with disastrous results. Personnel with long hair should be required to wear hair nets and loose clothing should be avoided.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #4: Operate an elevator only with all approved covers, guards, and safety labels in place. Operating an elevator with missing or unapproved covers and guards increases the risk of entrapment and injury. Equipment which is missing approved covers or guards, or using those which are unapproved, should be locked out and taken out of service until the condition is rectified. Safety labels should clean and visible. Missing or worn safety labels should be replaced.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #5. Ensure that all controls are visible and accessible. Bucket elevator controls regulate equipment speed and performance and allow operators to quickly stop the equipment when a malfunction or safety hazard occurs. Machine controls should always be visible and accessible to allow operators ready access in the event the equipment has to be quickly stopped.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #6: Do not modify the elevator controls. Equipment manufacturers, and/or electrical systems integrators, supply their units with machine controls that have been tested and approved for use. Undertaking modifications without the manufacturer’s knowledge or consent increases the risk of the equipment operating outside of its specified limits, possibly leading to injury.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #7. Clean up any spillage near moving parts only when the elevator is shut down, locked out, and guarded. Product spillage can compromise the performance of a bucket elevator and workers may be tempted to clean such spillage with the equipment still running. Spillage which occurs inside the machine, or which is near moving parts, should only be undertaken with power shut off and the machine locked out and guarded.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #8: Do not climb, sit, stand, or walk on an elevator at any time. Bucket elevators are not ladders nor are they access points to other process machinery or equipment. Climbing or walking on an elevator carries the risk of injury and can affect the integrity of the equipment.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #9. Do not perform maintenance service on an elevator until all sources of energy and gravity have been locked out and blocked. Performing maintenance on an elevator which has not had power shut off and the machine locked out carries the risk of an unforeseen start-up with resulting injury. Similarly, because bucket elevators usually carry material vertically, bucket assemblies, whether loaded or unloaded, should be blocked to guard against any unintended movement due to the force of gravity.
Bucket Elevator Safety Tip #10: Report all unsafe conditions. Personnel should be trained and encouraged to report immediately any unsafe operating condition to supervisors or management. Until the unsafe condition is corrected, the elevator should be taken out of service and locked out. If personnel are unsure as to whether a condition is presenting a safety hazard, they should request management to inspect the equipment and advise on any corrective actions needed.
For almost 50 years, UniTrak has been helping companies address their powder and bulk material handling challenges. Our TipTrak™ line of bucket elevators provide gentle handling and spillage-free operation. To find out more about the TipTrak™ line of bucket elevators, or any of our other fine conveying products, please contact our sales department directly.