The inaugural conference and exhibition on safety in the materials handling industry – SafeCon, held in October 2014 in Johannesburg/South Africa, was hailed as a ground-breaking success. Simon Curry, chairman of the Conveyor Manufacturers Association (CMA) spoke on behalf of the industry, saying that “SafeCon provided a forum for presentation of the latest in safety methodologies and a platform for open and frank discussion.” Papers and comments adhered strictly to the policy of factual description and non-judgemental examination of the incidents and issues. Neither the mine nor the personnel involved were identified. One of the most dangerous working areas in a mine or installation is on and around the conveyor. Common problems concerning safety were highlighted by speakers and delegates, predominantly caused by negligence, mismanagement and lack of training. Inadequate foresight during the design stage frequently led to dangerous structural deficiencies. These reasons, and others, all have the potential to cause accidents, injuries and death, as well as lengthy periods of conveyor installation downtime.
“Insufficient attention to safety issues when designing systems, selecting the incorrect belt for a project and poor splicing in particular, are primary sources of concern,” comments Curry. SafeCon clearly showed that there is a need in the materials handling industry for a regular conference on safety issues. Following the success of this, the first safety conference on conveyors in South Africa, SafeCon will be held every two years, alternating with Beltcon, organised by the International Materials Handling Conference, and both coordinated by Cost Time Resource. The next SafeCon and exhibition will be held in Johannesburg/South Africa in 2016.