Conveyors - Safety

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What should I know when working at or near a conveyor?

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There are many hazards associated with working at or near a conveyor, including:

  • Rotating parts or pinch points can drag in, crush or entangle
  • Confinement or assembly areas (the area between a fixed object and a moving one) can shear or crush
  • Parts that slide or reciprocate (press down) can crush or shear
  • Items can break or be ejected (thrown from) the conveyor system
  • Items can fall off the conveyor
  • Electrical, fire or explosion hazards

When working near any conveyor:


  • Wear hard hat and safety shoes.
  • Tie back (and tuck in) long hair.
  • Know the location of the emergency "shut-off" devices and how to use them.
  • Make sure all safeguards and guards including cages, barriers, guardrails, warning signals, and other safety devices that are required are in place and operational.
  • Know how to work near machinery safely.

Do Not

  • Do not wear loose clothing or jewellery.
  • Do not climb, step, sit or ride on the conveyors.
  • Do not alter or remove guards or safety devices.
  • Do not try to remove stuck items or debris until the conveyor is locked out.
  • Do not service the conveyor without following lock-out procedures.

What are some safety tips for working near a gravity conveyor?

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Gravity conveyors include those that have rollers, wheels or chutes where objects move by gravity or momentum only.


  • Guard pinch points on rollers and wheels and between the conveyor and receiving table.
  • Provide adequate guardrails along sides to prevent all objects from falling off.
  • Provide retarders (friction areas) if heavy objects are conveyed.
  • Ensure there are warning devices near the receiving areas if you cannot see the packages moving on the conveyor.
  • Ensure draft checks (fire doors) are installed where conveyors pass through fire walls or floors.

What are some tips when working at a "powered" conveyor?

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"Powered" or "power" conveyors include the use of belts, live rollers, slats, or buckets.


  • Position yourself so that you are not hit by objects moving down the conveyor.
  • Ensure that you can see the conveyor system when you are at the operating controls.
  • Ensure that guards are in place for all moving parts of the drive system and in all zones where hazards such as in-running nip, drawing-in, trapping and crushing, friction burns or abrasion are present (includes above, sides, and below the conveyor).
  • Guard all pinch points between the conveyor system and fixed objects.
  • Locate guardrails around low level conveyors and areas where conveyors pass through the floor/ceiling.
  • Locate emergency stop cut-off switches near the operator and along the length of the conveyor at approximately 30 metres (100 feet) apart (or closer).
  • Ground belts on belt conveyors to prevent static buildup.

What are additional tips when working with other types of conveyors?

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When working with aerial conveyors:

  • Make sure that guards and protection plates are in place to protect people working below from falling objects.

When working with bucket conveyors:

  • Make sure that both vertical and horizontal bucket conveyors are totally enclosed.

When working with pneumatic conveyors:

  • Familiarize yourself with control devices and release valves to cut off air flow in the event of blockage.
  • Shield joints and access points to prevent material from being thrown in the event of gasket failure.
  • Ensure that screening is in place at the suction end to prevent large objects from being sucked in.

When working with portable conveyors:

  • Use only weatherproof electrical components.
  • Make sure power cables are located where they will not be walked on or run over.
  • Make sure that sideboards are high enough to prevent large items from falling and smaller items from being thrown by the wind.
  • Chock the wheels on trucks and rail cars that are being loaded or emptied by portable conveyors.
  • Do not exceed the rated load capacity of the conveyor.

When working with movable conveyors:

  • Install barrier guards, guardrails and/or mark the ground to indicate operating area of the conveyor.

Are there issues, other than safety, I should know about?

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Yes. If working at a conveyor or belt, repetitive motions, reaching, and lifting may lead to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) especially when movements are done quickly and for a long period of time. The following case studies are available as examples and the information can be applied to a variety of situations:

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2020-01-02