Safeguarding Your Conveyor Systems

Conveyor systems play a major role in the manufacturing and distribution industries.  They are cost-effective and efficient which results in increased production and greater profits.   Conveyor systems are relatively simple in design but are still capable of causing injury to workers if health and safety guidelines are not adhered to.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that 30% of workplace injuries are caused by conveyor systems.

In 1998 it became a legal obligation for companies who use conveyor systems in their operations to conduct a PUWER Assessment.  This allows health and safety officers to identify sections of the system which may cause injury. Therefore prompting the installation of safety guards and other measures to maintain a safe system. There are a number of other pieces of legislation in place relating to the safeguarding of conveyor systems in the workplace.

Manufacturers design and build their conveyor systems in accordance to this legislation to ensure safety in the workplace.  Customers are able to increase the safety of their equipment by including extra safety equipment in their conveyor system. It is essential companies undertake regular monitoring and maintenance of their conveyor systems in order to prevent workplace injuries and accidents.

Conveyor Systems In Manufacturing And Distribution

Conveyor systems have been used in production and the collection of materials for hundreds of years.  We only really became aware of the stealthy nature of conveyor systems due to Ford’s car production plants.  Until then they just made transporting materials such as coal and wood easier and more efficient. These days we require conveyor systems to increase the speed at which we manufacture goods and prepare them for delivery.

Virtually all factories have followed in Ford’s footsteps by installing modular systems allowing a large number of products to be worked on at the same time.  Amazon is a huge example of the need to prepare millions of parcels for delivery in an almost inhuman amount of time. Without miles of conveyor systems we would not receive our order the next day.

PUWER Assessment

The 1998 PUWER Assessment requires companies who purchase generic conveyor systems to add relevant safety features to increase the safety of their system.  Companies who purchase bespoke machinery are expected to incorporate safety features at the point of design and construction. PUWER or Provision and User of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998 is one of a number of pieces of safety regulations that are to be adhered to when installing and using mechanical equipment.

Companies must also take the following pieces of legislation into consideration when installing machinery.  BS EN 620: 2002 which covers, ‘Continuous handling equipment and systems – Safety and EMC requirements for fixed belt conveyors for bulk materials’. BS 4531: 1986 covering, ‘ Specification for portable and mobile troughed belt conveyors’ and BS 7300: 1990, which is the code of practice, ‘for the safeguarding of the hazard points on troughed belt conveyors’. (Source: HSE).

Conveyor systems can also carry the CE Mark which is a certificate of conformity.  This is more difficult to apply to whole systems as certain components may hold the CE Mark but not the system as a whole.  It is therefore important to discuss the CE Mark with the manufacturer of your conveyor system. Checking to see if the system conforms to the aforementioned legislation is much more straightforward.

If you would like to find out more about our conveyor systems contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.

Who Invented The First Conveyors?

Conveyors are a mechanical piece of equipment that enables the movement of materials from one place to another. There is a wide range of different applications for conveyors including; the motor industry, construction, food industry, electronics, farming, scrap, pharmaceuticals,  supermarkets and airports. They increase the rate of production and have revolutionised manufacturing.

There are many different types of conveyors including; gravity, belt, bucket, pneumatic, vibrating, chain, and vertical conveyors. Conveyors move either mechanically or by using the force of gravity.  Industrial conveyors either transport boxes and heavy items along the factory floor or transport bulk items such as grains, salt, coal etc.

Conveyor belts have been in operation since the late 18th century. Modern conveyor belts are similar in construction to the leather and wooden conveyors of the past. The first conveyors were very primitive in design and used to transport coal, ores and other metals.  Henry Ford made conveyor belts famous through the product of the Model T Cars in 1913.

The First Conveyors

Historians estimate the first conveyor belts were invented at the end of the 18th century.  They had wooden frames and leather belt and the basis of modern conveyor belts we see today.  Steam was the main source of power for conveyor belts in the beginning. The first example of combining conveyors and steam power was the production of biscuits for sailors.  

The Onset of the Industrial Revolution saw great advancements in conveyor technology.  Thus enabling the transportation of bulk materials such as coal. The first steel conveyor system was developed in Sweden. In 1905 Richard Sutcliffe patented the first conveyor system used in coal mines.

Model T Cars

Henry Ford drew the world’s attention to conveyor systems in 1913 through the production of the Model T Cars.  Production was faster and more efficient because workers did not have to keep moving their tools to each car. Therefore reducing the production time to 93 minutes.  By 1919 conveyors were part of all production lines in the automotive industry.

Modern Systems

Modern conveyor systems are very similar to the very first conveyors but the technology within them is constantly developing. The demand for conveyors is greater than ever due to the surge in online sales.  Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Robertsville has 14 miles of conveyor belts to help sort and package items for shipment. The video below demonstrates how their vast system works.


The modern world is the perfect environment for the development of conveyors as we all rely on goods delivered to our door.  As the population increases there is a greater demand for quicker and more efficient ways to ensure people and companies get the goods they ordered on time and in good condition.

If you would like to find out more about conveyors contact us and we would be happy to discuss the options we have available.