Working near belt conveyors: Recent deaths spur MSHA safety alert

Lock Out Tag Out Procedures Archives - Mine Safety Center

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Spurred by numerous fatalities related to the hazards of working near belt conveyors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published on Sept. 3, the alert states that eight fatalities involving belt conveyors have occurred in the industry since Jan. 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near a moving conveyor, and two occurred during maintenance on an idle conveyor.

“All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lockout/tagout and blocking against motion before working,” the alert states.

MSHA details the most recent incident, which occurred in December and remains under investigation. A miner was fatally injured after removing a splice pin from a mainline conveyor that was caught between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

The agency lists multiple best practices for working safely near belt conveyors, including:

  • Identify, isolate and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing energy at the take up/belt storage system. Remember: Some tensile energy might still exist.
  • Position belt splice in an area of safe access to avoid pinch points.
  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Permit only the person who installed a lock and tag to remove them – and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out start and stop controls or belt switches, as they don’t disconnect power conductors.

McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.


Electrical Safety Alert

Don’t rush. Lockout/Tagout. Control hazards.

Electricity has killed three people in the mining industry since August 7, 2019.

  • An electrician contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit while adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors.
  • A contract electrician contacted an energized 120 VAC conductor while working inside a fire suppression system’s electrical panel.
  • An electrician contacted an exposed energized connector while troubleshooting a 995 VAC flooded bed scrubber motor circuit on-board a continuous mining machine.

Prevent Electrical Accidents:

  • Lockout/Tagout circuits before working on electrical equipment.
  • Don’t rush. Never work alone. Talk to coworkers and confirm your plan is safe.
  • Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting any task and follow safe work procedures.
    • Open the circuit breaker or load break switch to de-energize the incoming power cables or conductors
    • Open the visual disconnect to confirm incoming power is off
    • Lockout/Tagout the visual disconnect
    • Ground the de-energized conductors
  • Train miners on equipment they may use.
  • Electricians must know how to de-energize and disconnect electrical systems and equipment.
  • Always troubleshoot without power first.
  • If you must troubleshoot an energized circuit, use properly rated personal protective equipment to prevent hazards. For example, use electrically rated gloves, insulated blankets or mats, and polycarbonate barriers to prevent accidental contact with energized components.