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Conveyors - Safety

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

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?

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?

"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?

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?

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:

Document last updated on January 2, 2020

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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.