Increasing the safety of continuous handling equipment and systems

The European standard on safety requirements for unit load mechanical handling equipment has been thoroughly revised. Here we explain what the standard is about and outline what’s changed.   

In fact, there are five European standards that deal with the safety of continuous handling equipment and systems, four of which cover equipment that handles bulk materials, like aggregates or grains. However, our focus is on the newly revised BS EN 619:2022 Continuous handling equipment and systems – Safety requirements for equipment for mechanical handling of unit loads.


Continuous handling equipment

What’s covered by the term “continuous handling equipment”?

Examples include belt conveyors, carrying chain conveyors, plate conveyors, circular overhead conveyors, gravity roller conveyors, driven roller conveyors, overhead monorail conveyors, transfer cars, vertical and horizontal transfer devices, loop and line sorters and driven spiral conveyors.

This type of equipment is typically used in manufacturing and quarries to move unit or bulk loads continuously on a predefined route, from a loading to an unloading point. For the layperson, the most relatable examples of the unit load continuous handling equipment covered by BS EN 619:2022 are the check-in conveyors and baggage carousels you see at airports.


Safety hazards

Such machinery can cause a range of safety hazards that include crushing, shearing, entanglement and trapping; impact, friction, and abrasion hazards; and high-pressure fluid or gas ejection hazards. Parts can also fall, be ejected, or topple. There are slip, trip, and fall hazards; as well as electrical and thermal hazards resulting in, for example, burns and scalds. There are noise hazards; and those cause by missing or incorrectly fitting safety measures such as guards and warning devices. All these hazards and more are covered in the newly revised standard, so what’s new?


Revisions to the standard

The 2022 revision has made significant technical changes in comparison with the previous edition which was published in 2002 and amended in 2010. One change that users will see – especially those familiar with other machinery safety standards – is that BS EN 619:2022 has been adapted to conform to the rules outlined in CEN Guide 414:2017 on the drafting and presentation of safety standards.

Another important change is that the revision reflects changing technology and extends the standard’s scope to cover telescopic conveyors, sorters, vertical switch conveyors, check-in conveyors, reclaim conveyors and rail guided floor track conveyors. The revision introduces the area concept whereby locations are subdivided with defined boundaries. It also now prevents access across the load entry and exit points in dependence of different areas and specifies maximum speeds depending on the mass and on the different areas.

The 2022 revision introduces requirements for noise reduction and a noise test code that specifies all the information necessary to carry out the determination, declaration and verification of all the noise emissions of a mechanical handling device so manufacturers can declare the noise emitted and noise can be compared and controlled at the design stage.

The revised standard lists required performance levels for safety related parts of control systems and improves the verification of safety requirements and measures. It updates figures as necessary and provides more detailed descriptions of safety requirements and measures for the single types of conveyors.

The result is a revised standard that has the power to reduce the hazards associated with the operation and maintenance of continuous handling equipment and systems, leading to fewer injuries and more confident users as well as more market-acceptable equipment.