The Critical Importance of Conveyor Emergency Stops
You must be able to quickly and easily shut down any conveyor in areas where people work
Take a look at your conveyor – do you think it’s safe? Are there sufficient guardrails? Are operators wearing loose clothing? Are visitors allowed near running lines? Because conveyor seems safe at a glance, it’s an often-overlooked hazard. Used correctly, of course, it is a safe way to increase productivity.
But look again. Don’t look for what’s there – look for what isn’t there. Do you see emergency stops? They are a critical component for any powered conveyor. Not having e-stops is tantamount to not having a motor. They aren’t just recommended, they are vital. If people are going to be working alongside the conveyor it is critical that E-Stops be incorporated with the conveyor.
Can you shut off your conveyor in a heartbeat?
In the event of an emergency the conveyor must be able to be shut off where the people are working. This is most commonly accomplished with a pull cord the full length of any area where people are working alongside the conveyor. If a work cell or confined work area is incorporated alongside a small area of the conveyor some customers prefer palm button E-stops (pictured above). This is acceptable if the area is small. The stops should be visible and readily apparent so that anyone working in the area knows they are present. Everyone who works near conveyors or may pass near conveyors during a shift should train on the stops and know how to use them.
So look at your conveyor again. Do you instantly see the stops? Are they readily accessible? Could you reach them in an instant of panic or crisis? Do your people know where they are and what to do?
A conveyor should never be installed so that it can be turned off only from the panels or other remote locations, even if people aren’t routinely working alongside it. Stops can save lives, reduce injuries, and save money. They are relatively inexpensive and easily added when conveyor is installed.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.