Package Falls from Elevated Conveyor

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Tom Cocchiola, PE ::::

Case Synopsis: A worker at a regional freight handling facility was seriously injured when a package fell off the side of an elevated conveyor and landed on her head. The facility has a network of conveyors that receive packages from a number of loading docks before moving, sorting, and redistributing them. The package that fell was previously unloaded from a trailer and placed onto an inclined conveyor that transported it to an elevation approximately 9-feet above the facility floor. The worker was pushing a material handling cart within a pedestrian walkway when the package fell and struck her.

Engineering Analysis: The conveyor system was designed and installed when the regional handling facility was constructed. Several companies were involved in conceptual and detailed conveyor system designs. An engineering evaluation demonstrated the conveyor system was not designed and built in accordance with applicable requirements and recommendations. Engineering and manufacturer’s drawings depict a series of elevated conveyors supported above pedestrian walkways. Unfortunately, the elevated conveyors were not designed and built with side guards high enough to contain the anticipated range of package sizes and prevent them from falling over the side. The conveyor system also lacked netting or other safeguards to catch falling packages and prevent them from injuring workers in designated pedestrian areas. The conveyor safety standard requires safeguards for overhead conveyors whenever objects can fall off and endanger personnel. The conveyor system was not designed and built with safeguards necessary to protect workers from falling objects.

Result: The evaluation demonstrated the accident would have been prevented if elevated conveyors were equipped with safeguards to prevent packages from falling and endangering workers consistent with applicable safety standards and fundamental engineering recommendations.

 

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