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Rotary equipment safety in bulk solids handling

Good practices to ensure a safe bulk solids handling regarding access to parts in movement

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Section summary
1. Introduction
2. Principles of 0 access
3. Types of guarding
4. Training and procedures

1. Introduction

Bulk solids handling processes use many kind of equipment. Some of them can present an occupational safety risk to the operators because they have some rotating parts. It is crucial for the safety of the installation to assess the risks posed by such equipment and to put in place the adequate protections.

2. Principles of 0 access

The most efficient way to protect workers from rotating equipment is to make sure they can never access it freely when it rotates. There must be 0 access to the machine that is not properly guarded.

The operator must have to open a guard to access the machine that will ensure that the machine is shut down.

The guarding can be of different nature depending on the equipment.

3. Types of guarding

- Equipment out of reach : one of the simpler, most efficient, but sometimes not practical to implement, is to position the rotating equipment too far for the operator to reach. For example, it could be adding inlet pipes and outlet pipe long enough so that the operator cannot reach the machine with his arm in the the pipe.

- Guarded fence, door : the access to the equipment is guarded thanks switches that can detect the opening and stop the machine. For machines having a lot of inertia, locks can actually be installed that can be released only if the equipment is totally stopped.

- Dismantling with tools : for equipment that do not require frequent intervention, the protection may be based on the need to dismantle a part with tools. The fact to use tools must then be associated by the operator to a specific procedure to stop and lock the machine.

In any case, an operator should NEVER be able to access a hazardous equipment only by performing actions with his bare hands.

4. Training and procedure

People working on an industrial bulk process must be trained in order to ensure the safety of all at work. SOPs must be written explaining how to perform an intervention on an equipment and each personal should be trained on them. In any case, operators must be trained to stop machines prior to accessing it and lock it out. The lock out MUST include all energies as well as their release (for example for compressed air) prior to opening the machine.

The notions above are general. A risk analysis must be performed in order to assess and put in place measures to control the risk. The analysis should be carried out with trained consultant, internal or external of the company.