How are conveyors used in industry?
Conveyors are common equipment found in industry. They are used to move products and supplies in and out of a work site, from one part of the plant to another, and between workstations. In all kinds of assembly operations, ranging from microelectronics to the automotive industry, conveyors, whether powered or unpowered, roller or belt, overhead or floor, are literally the backbone of the production system.
The entire work process revolves around the conveyor. Its height, width, speed and position in relation to the worker all modify the overall workload and the way workers do their job. To lessen the likelihood for adverse effects of long hours spent at a conveyor of any type, some ergonomic and design issues have to be considered.
How do we make work at a conveyor safer?
- Wherever the tasks at the conveyor require wide-ranging bodily motion and/or physical exertion, then the work should be done from a standing position;
- Conveyor height should be determined by the degree of exertion required and the dimensions of the objects being worked upon. A range of between 65 cm and 120 cm can accommodate the majority of the workforce and a variety of tasks. More information on working in standing positions can be found in our OSH Answers section under:
- Conveyor height for precision work such as microelectronic assembly should be from 95 cm to 120 cm, ideally 5 cm above one's elbow height;
- Seating such as that described in the following OSH Answers documents, plus elbow supports are highly recommended;
- Conveyor height for light work should be about 5 to 10 cm below one's elbow height. Seating is optional.
- Conveyor height for heavy work should be about 20 to 40 cm below one's elbow height. Seats for other than resting are not recommended;
- Regardless of whether they work while sitting or standing, workers should have adequate knee and leg clearance;
- Aisles should be wide enough so that the workers could perform their tasks without obstruction;
- Small racks or shelves for containers should be within easy reach; containers should be tilted to avoid repetitive awkward movements;
- Consider installing tool balancers where heavy powered hand tools are used;
- The pace of a conveyor should be set between the capabilities of the most- and least -skilled worker; the highest speed should not exceed 10 m/min;
- For assembly work the workers should have some control over the pacing their tasks;
- Consider installing anti-fatigue matting. It may alleviate tiredness and feet problems might arise from working long hours on hard floors;
- Conveyors, even if the work is done from only one side, should be accessible from both sides. This is for maintenance, housekeeping, and emergency reasons;
- Where people need to move over the conveyor, a crossover (pedestrian bridge) should be built, with appropriate guards installed.
Document last updated on October 8, 2004
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