Worker Safety


3 Spring Start-Up Tips for a Safer, More Efficient Season

By Matthew Armstrong, MAJOR Business Development Analysist

Spring often starts with a flurry of activity for aggregate and mining producers. In the rush to get through preparations for the season, though, eager crews sometimes forget that safety and efficiency require a bit of patience.

This is especially true when it comes to maintenance tasks, such as screen change-outs. To reduce impacts on productivity, crews feel the need to get repairs done quickly. However, speedy repairs, rather than getting the operation off on the right foot, often have the opposite effect. Employees in a rush take shortcuts, resulting in lower quality repairs or worse — accidents.

Performing preventative maintenance, such as screen change-outs, during winter shut-down can help alleviate the pressure on crews by limiting spring repairs. But there is more you can do.

Here are three areas where operations and employees can work together to ensure a safe spring start-up.

Pick the Right Partner

Safe media change-outs start with proper training, and before production starts is a great time to refresh training and review safety protocols. During early spring, arrange for training and other on-site technical services with reputable OEMs and dealers. This is critical for ensuring your team has the knowledge and support they need to do the job safely and efficiently when the time comes. Our Screen Maintenance Simplified (SMS) training is available on-demand to teach plant managers, operators and maintenance crews screen maintenance best practices.

We also offer in-person technical assistance and screening performance assessments that can be paired with training to optimize screen media solutions. Services, such as vibration analysis  using the FLEX-MAT Sensor, help to identify maintenance issues early, allowing crews to plan ahead and limit downtime throughout the year.

Stock Up for Year-Long Productivity

Spring technical service visits offer a great opportunity to discuss maintenance schedules and parts needs for the year, as well. This will help you determine exactly what parts to keep on hand, and what incentives might be available for pre-ordering critical spares, such as screen media. Thoroughly review production numbers to establish your core media usage and develop a plan with your screen media manufacturer or dealer to have at least two media change-outs readily available. At MAJOR, we offer screen media stocking programs to ensure your product is available when you need it — saving you space onsite.

A well-curated stock of spare parts increases efficiency during spring start-up and limits downtime throughout the year — even during unplanned maintenance. This relieves pressure and allows crews to take their time for safer, more efficient change-outs.

When it’s finally time to perform spring maintenance, apply the same thorough planning. Create a checklist of the tools and parts necessary for the task at hand — adding a few extra bolts, washers and nuts to account for accidental falls. A well-stocked toolbox allows you to limit trips up and down the vibrating screen, reducing safety risks and fatigue for crews.

Practice Safety

Regardless of training, pre-planning and other steps operations may take, safe screen media change-out inevitably relies on the individual performing the work. Following proper handling procedures is the only way to ensure safe, efficient change-outs. Part of the safety protocol must include wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and following safety guidelines for site-specific conditions.

High-dexterity work gloves, for example, are necessary PPE for screen media change-outs. Sharp edges on the tail end of screens and at the hooks can cause cuts to workers’ hands, not only posing a danger to the individual, but further delaying the operation resuming production.

Though it should never be thought of as a replacement for PPE, some screen designs can also help reduce risk of hand injuries. MAJOR includes metal shrouds on all FLEX-MAT screens as well as its woven wire screens .362-inches and smaller. This means no sharp edges on the wire for workers to worry about during handling and installation.

In addition to PPE, workers should never attempt to change screens alone. Working in pairs ensures available help should an individual get into a dangerous situation. Also, due to their size, most screens require two people to lift and maneuver safely. Take advantage of lifting equipment, such as zoom booms, to further reduce risk of injury.  

Workers should also be diligent about other safety measures, such as proper lock-out procedure or wearing safety harnesses if the vibrating screen is high off the ground. While these steps may seem time-consuming in the moment, they can prevent serious and even life-threatening injuries.

Safety is an Ongoing Commitment

Even in the rush to get production started in the spring, safety must be a top priority for crews and management. There is no way to totally relieve the pressure that comes with a delayed spring start due to maintenance, but operations and employees can take steps to minimize these risks. Planning ahead, working with reputable partners and practicing safety might take a little extra time, but will help get your season off on the right foot and provide long-term benefits throughout the year.

For more information about how to keep workers safe during screen maintenance, contact your MAJOR dealer.