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Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
Safety Idea

Conveyor Belts Move Faster Than You Can

Safety Something YOU can live with!
Mine Type: All
Category: Belt Conveyors and Material Handling; Material Handling


In a recent six year period, 21 miners died in conveyor-belt accidents. The leading cause of these accidents was trying to remove material sticking to a roller or pulley while the belt was running. Moving Conveyor Safety Consider the following:

  • In these fatal accidents, belt speeds were typically in the range of 300 to 500 feet per minute (fpm). This means the belt was moving from 5 to over 8 feet per second.


  • For the average person, the time needed to react to an unexpected sensation is about one second.
Putting these facts together shows why working near a running conveyor belt is so dangerous. Even at 300 fpm, in that one second that the average person needs to react, the belt moves over the pulleys and rollers a distance of 5 feet. That's far enough to draw your tool, your loose clothing, gloved or bare hand and arm, into a pinch point before you can react.

Take these tips to work with you:

  • Don't take chances around a conveyor belt.
  • Don't perform work that will expose you to a pinch point, like clearing caked material from a roller, while a belt is in operation.
  • Only work on a conveyor that is locked and tagged out.
  • If you are working near a stopped belt, and a start-up warning is given, stop what you're doing and get clear!
  • Never cross a moving belt.
  • Always cross at a bridge or designated crossing point.


If you have a tip you would like to pass on, you can e-mail it to
zzMSHA-MinersTips@dol.gov.
If your tip is selected, you will receive credit in this space.


Issued: 03/10/2005
Tag # AP2005- 89669