Safety Alert

Serious accident at a conveyor idler


  • Licensed Mine Managers
  • Licensed Mine Owners
  • Misc Mine Managers
  • Misc Mine Owners
  • Unions

Safety Circular

A belt fitter sustained serious injuries while removing a belt trailer when his arm was drawn into the nip point between the belt and a top idler of a 1.37m wide (54") conveyor. He was unable to free himself and was fortunate that others nearby were able to stop the conveyor. Once the belt was stopped others had to use pull-lifts to free him.

Had there been no-one working nearby he could easily have been killed. This accident clearly shows the hazard that can exist at idlers on heavy-duty conveyors and the potential risks to people working on them.

Regulation 22 of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 requires owners to take appropriate measures to ensure that maintenance operations can be carried out while the equipment is shut down unless the work can be carried out without risk, or other measures can be taken for the protection of people maintaining work equipment.

In the health and safety documents required by regulation 4 of the Mines Miscellaneous Health and Safety Provisions Regulations 1995, owners must therefore identify the risks posed by this hazard and demonstrate that adequate measures have been taken to ensure safety including, where necessary, a requirement for conveyors to be shut down for maintenance operations. In particular owners must ensure that managers draw up written rules and safety instructions on the safety of conveyor maintenance personnel, and ensure that there are procedures to ensure that these rules are carried into effect.

Where there are foreseeable significant risks to people passing conveyors, for instance if it was likely that someone walking alongside a conveyor could stumble and fall and be drawn into a dangerous nip point, then that nip point should be guarded.

Managers need to ensure that:

  • workers are aware that many unguarded conveyor idlers are hazardous and can present a severe risk;
  • training emphasizes that working on a moving conveyor must not be permitted except in exceptional circumstances.

Inspectors will be reviewing the arrangements in place at mines to ensure that the lessons learned from this accident are properly implemented.

Yours sincerely

S P Wing
HM Principal District Inspector of Mines

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