Life Guards: Choosing Suitable Guards For A Portable Conveyor Belt

Portable conveyor belts are essential pieces of equipment for a wide variety of industrial and commercial activities, finding use everywhere from stone quarries to vegetable fields. However, while these machines may seem innocuous enough, that can become veritable deathtraps if used without due care and attention -- many a worker has lost a hand or a limb to the ruthless pull of a running conveyor belt, and suitable physical guards to protect your workers are both an ethical and legal necessity for safe working practices. 

Happily, conveyor belt manufacturers produce a range of conveyor guards, which are installed over dangerous 'nip points' and areas of high foot traffic along the length of your portable conveyor. Choosing guards ideally suited to use on a portable conveyor belt will help to further increase working safety, so look out for conveyor guards offering the following desirable properties:

Light weight

Conveyor guards made for static, heavy-duty conveyor belts are generally enormously robust arrangements made from pressed steel or other metals, but something lighter and more portable is required if you want your guards to be as portable as your portable conveyor. Guards made of durable plastics are generally more suited to these purposes; not only are they lighter and easier to carry and transport, but they also tend to be much easier to fit to (and remove from) conveyor belts, a real time saver when you have to move your conveyor between job sites quickly.

High visibility

Guards for a portable conveyor belt should also be highly visible, allowing workers who may not be familiar with your conveyor or its new surroundings to instantly locate potential danger points and safe areas along the length of a conveyor. Choosing guards made of brightly coloured plastic (yellow is a popular choice) generally makes your guards visible enough, but conveyors working in a very dark environment (such as mines and other subterranean locations) may require extra visibility measures for their guards, such as warning lights or reflective strips.

Suitable signage

To meet stringent Australian safety standards regarding safe conveyor belt use, your guards should also be fitted with suitable signage to warn both workers and members of the public about the dangers the guards contain. Generally, the sign should stipulate that the conveyor drive must be isolated before the guard can be safely removed, but the exact wording of the safety message may differ depending on your state's legislation.

While not legally required, weight values stamped onto your guards are also a useful feature for portable conveyors, and many conveyor guard types include this option. These weight values allow you to assess the manual handling risk of fitting or removing each guard before work begins, giving workplace safety another much-needed boost.