How to Avoid Fatal Mistakes When Selecting and Using Conveyors, Part 2

It is important to apply conveyor safety standards correctly.

It is important to apply conveyor safety standards correctly. Surprisingly, OSHA does not have conveyor safety and training regulations. However, as reported in Part 1 of this article in the December issue of Material Handling Management, page 79, groups like the National Safety Council, and the American National Standards Institute have established safety standards for conveyor operation, maintenance and training.

Here are tips on how owners and operators can make sure conveyor safety standards are correctly applied.

Engineering: If owners and operators do not have in-house engineers with sufficient conveyor experience, they must contract with an outside technical source. Their choice is a conveyor manufacturer, an engineering sales agency or a consulting engineering firm. They must determine if the firms they interview have the staff and experience to provide their projects' new and reallocated conveyor system requirements. Moreover, they must require engineering bidders to provide samples of specifications and drawings covering similar past conveyor systems. They should carefully check to find evidence to determine if and how the bidders followed available conveyor safety standards on these past projects.

Subcontracting: Owners and operators will need to contract for the detail/manufacturing of their projects' new conveyor equipment requirements. They must locate, select and relocate the necessary used conveyor equipment. They need to contract for a mechanical contractor to install the equipment, both new and used, and an electrical contractor to provide conduit, controls and field wiring for the conveyor system. In any case, either their staff or hired engineer must prepare bid plans and specifications that accurately describe the conveyor system operations and maintenance, and mechanical and electrical installation requirements, again referencing applicable conveyor safety standards with which to comply.

Start-up: Assuming owners and operators act as their own general contractor, the responsibility for any building changes, the project's field implementation schedule and coordination and on-job safety will be their responsibility. They also may need to have their subcontractors provide field assistance during start-up, if necessary. They need to make sure the conveyor system's designers and manufacturers are advised by contract to provide proper and adequate conveyor safety warnings and operating and maintenance manuals, including conveyor safety.

Training: Owners and operators are responsible for providing initial and ongoing training of their personnel in the safe operation and maintenance of their conveyor system. Again, they can seek outside assistance from their subcontractors or other outside sources.

One More Resource
Specifying conveyor safety requirements is a critical component in the preparation of a conveyor system's specifications, but there are other critical factors. A Recommended Common Industry Practices and Guidelines for a Conveyor System Request for Proposal is available from the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA). It contains details covering:

  • Basic Requirements
  • System Requirements
  • Conveyor Equipment General
  • Customer Preferences of Use and General Requirements of Sorting Systems
  • Maintenance Access Requirements
  • Building Requirements
  • General Customer Controls Requirements
  • Installation Conditions and Requirements
  • Functional and Operational Tests;
  • Reliability and Availability Requirements;
  • Safety Requirements
  • Training/Documentation and Certification
  • System Maintenance (Options Available)
  • Supervisory Computer System

This document was jointly prepared by the Conveyor Product Section of MHIA and the Association of Professional Material Handling Consultants (APMHC). A copy of this publication is at www.mhia.org/ps/pdf/specdoc.pdf. Conveyor systems can be designed to handle bulk, package and unit handling products. This document is directed primarily to specifying package handling conveyor systems. The best source for obtaining information on preparation of bulk and unit handling conveyor proposals is a consulting engineering firm with experience in conveyor system design.

George A. Schultz, P.E., vice president of Siebert Engineers Inc., 630-268-0020, ext. 3026; [email protected]

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