MSHA issues Safety Alert: Splicing Conveyor Belts due to multiple fatalities involving conveyors

Kerry Clines

April 13, 2018

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a Safety Alert: Splicing Conveyor Belts after four miners were fatally injured when performing work around conveyor belts in underground coal mines since Jan. 26, 2017. Two fatalities involved miners crossing the belt, and the third fatal occurred when a miner contacted a moving drive roller for the section belt. Most recently, a miner, part of the mine’s maintenance crew, was preparing to make a belt splice when the belt started up, resulting in fatal injuries.

Although this Safety Alert was focused on coal mines, it is important for metal/non-metal aggregate mines as well. There was one fatality in 2017 that involved a miner performing maintenance on a conveyor at a sand and gravel operation who got entangled in the tail pulley. Plus, there have been numerous serious accidents involving conveyors at aggregate operations.

Aggregate Mining

MSHA offers the following Best Practices to help prevent this type of accident:

  • Communicate to others in advance that you are planning to de-energize electrical power before splicing a conveyor belt.
  • De-energize electrical power and lock and tag the visual disconnect before beginning a belt spice. Carry and use your own lock and tag device.
  • Do NOT use the start and stop controls (belt switches). This switch does not de-energize the power.
  • Disconnecting devices shall be locked out and suitably tagged by the person performing the work; lock and tags shall only be removed by the person who installed them once the work is completed. 

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  • Block the belt to secure components against motion.
  • After the splice has been completed and before removing your lock and tag, ensure everyone is clear of the conveyor belt and communicate to others that you will be restarting the belt.
  • Establish policies and procedures for conducting specific task training on belt conveyors such as replacing rollers and splicing belts. Include these policies and procedures in your Part 48 refresher training. All employees must be trained on these policies and procedures.

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