A 75 mm conveyor belt strip tore from the left side of a shaft conveyor belt, tangling up around in the take-up return pulley in the belt drive.
The shaft conveyor belt was stopped and locked out.
The shift manager removed 2 guards on the left side of the belt and started cutting the loose strip with a knife.
As access was limited, a beltsman took off the guard on the right side of the belt and climbed in between the top and bottom conveyor belt, to help cutting the strip.
He was positioned in front of the return pulley. As the strip was removed, the pulley (which was under tension along its whole length) suddenly released and turned.
The beltsman was pulled in between the pully and conveyor belt and killed.
Why did it happen?
The pulley was released and suddenly turned as a result of the stored energy in the conveyor belt, which was under tension.
Personnel did not identify/underestimated the potential energy stored in the conveyor belt.
What did they learn?
All types of potential stored energy must be identified and:
- Addressed in the company ‘lock out’ code of practice.
- Be communicated to all relevant personnel.
Ask yourself or your crew
What actions did or did not happen that led this crew to think there was no stored energy in this equipment? Do we think the same here at our site? Why/why not?
Why do you think the beltsman did what he did? What pressures may have influenced his actions?
In a similar situation, would you operate like he did? What would you do differently?
Do our current procedures include adequate information on potential stored energy? How can we improve?
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A beltsman lost his life after being caught in between a return pulley and a conveyor belt. He was positioned in front of the pulley when it was released and it unexpectedly turned.