Roller conveyors are among the types of conveyors regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While it is possible to purchase and assemble a roller conveyor in one's home for improvement projects, most roller conveyors are found in warehouses, distribution centers and other places where people need to move packaged or palletized loads.
A roller conveyor is a type of conveyor system that moves its load from one end to the other over evenly spaced rollers. The rollers are tubes usually made of steel or another strong metal or metal alloy. Roller conveyors are typically gravity conveyors, meaning they are inclined so that a load starts at the elevated end and moves to the lower end by the force of gravity, rather than by a powered belt in the rails.
Roller conveyors are typically sold in sections comprised of rollers and rails, with the supports sold separately. Alternatively, they are sold in small, straight sections with the supports, rails and rollers attached, and sections are assembled to fit the needs of the user. To keep the roller conveyor safe, assembled parts must be secured together, and must not easily come loose as a load passes over the seams. Supports must also be stable and not buckle or move as the load passes over.
Stopping the Load
For powered roller conveyors, an emergency brake must be available at the control station and, if the control station is in a remote location, near the engine as well. For both powered and gravity roller conveyors, there must be a mechanism at the end of the conveyor system to stop a load without it falling off the end.
If the roller conveyor stands at about ground level--not passing over the heads of personnel in the environment in which it operates--safety guardrails must be used to keep the load from falling off the sides. Guardrails should be placed above the center of gravity of the load typically passing over the conveyor.
If the roller conveyor is an overhead conveyor, i.e., it is passes over the heads of personnel, conveyor netting is required below and along the sides of the conveyor so that loads are not able to fall on personnel. If the conveyor is against a wall, netting is only required below and to the side of the conveyor that is not against the wall.