MSHA Issues Safety Alert on Rotating Conveyor Rollers

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently issued a safety alert addressing the alarming increase in serious and fatal injuries associated with rotating conveyor rollers. The alert emphasizes the need for heightened awareness and adherence to best practices to prevent accidents that can result in permanent disabilities or even fatalities.

The safety alert highlights the grave consequences that miners face when cleaning or adjusting conveyor rollers, pulleys, and idlers while the belt is in motion. Injuries range from broken bones to the loss of fingers, hands, and arms, with some incidents proving fatal. Unsafe actions, such as using aerial lifts to access elevated components or removing guards to work on moving conveyor parts, have been identified as key contributors to these accidents.

Several unsafe practices have been identified as leading to these devastating injuries. These include using tools like scrapers, shovels, pry bars, hammers, and torches to remove ice, mud, or buildup. Unfortunately, these tools can become caught in pinch points between the conveyor belt and rollers, pulling in both the tools and the miners’ hands, arms, and bodies.

To address and mitigate the risks associated with rotating conveyor rollers, MSHA has outlined a set of best practices that must be rigorously followed:

  • Keep Guards in Place:  It is imperative not to defeat or circumvent any protective system. Guards must be properly installed and maintained to ensure the safety of miners working around conveyor components.
  • Implement Effective Lock-out Programs:  Before performing any maintenance, cleaning, or adjustments, ensure that the conveyor system is shut down, de-energized, and properly locked out. Blocking conveyor parts against hazardous motion adds an additional layer of protection.
  • Establish Policies and Procedures:  Mining operations should develop and implement comprehensive policies and procedures to govern the proper and safe cleaning and maintenance of conveyor components. These guidelines should be well-communicated and strictly enforced.
  • Provide Task and Site-Specific Hazard Training: All personnel involved in mining operations must undergo thorough training that specifically addresses the hazards associated with cleaning or working on and around moving conveyor components. This training should be ongoing to keep everyone informed about the latest safety protocols.
  • Follow Safe Cleaning and Maintenance Policies:  Supervisors, miners, and contractors share the responsibility of ensuring that safe cleaning and maintenance policies and procedures are consistently followed. Strict adherence to these guidelines is crucial in preventing accidents and preserving the well-being of workers.

The MSHA safety alert serves as a reminder of the inherent dangers associated with rotating conveyor rollers. By adopting and strictly adhering to the best practices outlined by MSHA, mining operations can significantly reduce the risks of serious injuries and fatalities. Developing and implementing a comprehensive safety program in line with MSHA best practices goes beyond mere compliance; it fosters a positive company culture. A strong safety culture not only protects the workforce but also enhances employee morale, engagement, and productivity. IFO Group stands as a dedicated partner, ready to assist mining operations in developing a comprehensive safety program to contribute to accident prevention, employee well-being, and the overall success of mining operations.  Contact us at or at 832-403-2135 today to request a free consultation.