Improving conveyor safety by minimising dust exposure

Martin Engineering has stressed the requirement to control fugitive material associated with conveyors for improved safety and productivity.

Fugitive material collects around conveyor pulleys, idlers and the floor around the conveyor over time, requiring consistent cleaning and maintenance by staff working in a hazardous work area.

Since this exposure can lead to injuries, it is important that steps are taken to minimise the build up of dust and other fugitive materials.

Turbulence at transfer points can spread dust, so airflow can be slowed in the skirted area to allow the dust to settle, aided by a stable, correctly supported and aligned belt. If the belt is not stable, it can sag between idlers, which can cause spillage.

Apron seals should also be attached to chute walls to prevent dust and fines from escaping.

“A crucial requirement in any transfer point designed for reduced spillage and high efficiency is an effective skirting and wear liner sealing system at the edge of the belt,” Martin Engineering product specialist Jerad Heitzler said.

“Modern designs feature external skirting, which establish the tight belt seal needed to eliminate fugitive dust and fines.”

Components such as shaped transfer chutes, rock boxes, slider cradles and impact cradles made from rubber or urethane also help to minimise dust spreading.

Implementing these techniques will not only improve safety for staff but could also reduce costs due to lower maintenance and clean up requirements and a reduced loss of product.

“Conveyor operators need only take a broad look at the expense that fugitive material has on a system to realise the full cost that accompanies inefficient transfer point designs,” Heitzler said.

“Problems such as improper belt support, badly sealed chutes, damaged idlers and uneven cargo distribution can all result in spillage and belt mistracking.”

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