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Cover up: Dust covers, guards protect people, environment

Since 2015, Kinder Australia has been the distributor of K-AllShelter/Capotex belt conveyor covers.

The covers deliver a robust, aerodynamic and lightweight solution that ensures personal safety from moving parts and dust suppression – all factors behind growing environmental compliance requirements for Australian bulk materials handling operations.

In many countries, particularly in Europe and Latin America, it is mandatory for conveyor belts to be enclosed with protective covers. Occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards and accidents from the incorrect use of conveyor belts include conveyed material falling away during transportation, and hitting and seriously injuring workers.

Workers can also be dragged and/or entrapped within the transporting belt by clothing, hair and other loose elements.

“Covering up makes sense, as it helps to minimise or eliminate serious costly belt mistracking problems, which can arise when moisture seeps into the cracks, and it extends the wear life of the conveyor belt,” Kinder Australia’s CEO Neil Kinder said.

“It also ensures the safety and [reduces] instances of injury/accidents to workers.”

The environmental and OHS risks of unprotected belts require careful consideration due to the build-up of airborne dust during the materials handling conveying process. The risk to personal safety is very real, as fine airborne dust particles create serious personal health risks when inhaled.

Further safety considerations include the increased risk of slips, trips and falls in areas of poor access and visibility caused by dust emissions.

There is also the risk to the environment, where dust can reach areas beyond site boundaries. It can contaminate delicate ecosystems, especially in wetlands and rivers, causing regulatory action and rifts between nearby towns and the plant.

Today’s extractive industries constantly have dust emission levels closely monitored and evaluated. Adherence to acceptable dust level regulatory standards set by industry bodies ensures continued site operations, productivity and profitability.

The tightening of environmental regulations and site obligations will mean all conveyor belts should ideally be enclosed to reduce OHS risks and improve the impact of dust emissions.

The K-AllShelter/Capotex belt conveyor covers feature a patented lock/hinge system and can withstand extremities of heat, wind, humidity and rain over long periods. Being hinged on both sides allows ongoing access from either side of the conveyor. The covers are manufactured using a wide range of optional materials, including galvanised steel, pre-laquered steel, high performance steel, stainless steel, aluminium and fibre-reinforced polyester.

Conveyor belt covers act as protective barriers against harsh environmental elements, while keeping workers free from dust contamination and associated maintenance clean-up costs.

Neil Kinder said when selecting “the best conveyor belt covers to install, there are a few important factors to consider, such as durability, light weight and ease of access”.

He is a strong advocate of protective guards on open conveyors. He said WorkSafe Victoria figures revealing the extent of work-related deaths in Victoria in 2016 were a reminder for employers to be vigilant (26 Victorians were killed, including two in the quarrying industry).

A Safe Work Australia study found 36 per cent of 639 work-related deaths between 2006 and 2011 involved poorly designed machinery, plant and powered tools. The most common contributor was inadequate guarding.

“Operator safety, in terms of the workplace, is non-negotiable,” Neil Kinder said. “Conveyor belts operate at such high speed, they are uncompromising. If you get caught in one, injuries can be severe and/or fatal.”

Kinder Australia has developed the K-Protector return idler guard, which protects operator contact by eliminating nip points.

“You can’t just dream up your own style of guard, because at the end of the day, it’s not compliant,” Neil Kinder said. “The guard that we have designed meets the Australian Standard.”

The K-Protector comes with a quick-release mechanism that allows it to pass through the end plates for maintenance, and is available to suit all roller diameters and belt widths. The guard also acts as a basket to catch the roller in the event of idler failure.

“Conveyor guards do not have to be complicated, nor interfere with productivity,” Neil Kinder said. “Once installed, the guard should be kept clean and inspected regularly.”

Source: Kinder Australia

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