Safety Reminder: Clogged Chute Can Become Fatal

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A chute blockage can become very dangerous at a job site. Follow these few precautions to keep workers & bystanders safe. If a chute becomes clogged and more debris is being fed, the total weight of the chute will increase rapidly, in doing so the entire system will collapse without warning causing serious injury or even death.

The chute system is not designed to withstand any additional weight that even a small blockage can represent. A blocked chute is an extremely hazardous situation. It is important that the chute is monitored constantly throughout the work day to prevent any blockage. There are a numerous ways to prevent a blockage. Before the assembly of the chute system, always choose the side of the building that will keep the chute as straight as possible. Never allow there to be any bends, crimps or anything constricting the chute.

The lasting thing people think about throughout their work day is if the chute will get clogged. Designate a site safety monitor. This person will be responsible for ensuring that the chute does not get blocked throughout the day. Although the chute entrie is big, make sure all workers break up the debris before throwing it into the chute. Always keep in mind that lightweight, bulky materials such as insulation, foam, thin roofing membrane can clog the chute much faster than other material.

Chute blockage often starts in the dumpster. When assembling, ensure the chute has approximately 2 to 5 feet of clearance above the dumpster rim, so that the debris can be seen falling clear of the chute. Do not install tarpaulins over the trash container. Workers must ensure that all debris thrown into the chute is exiting into the dumpster at all times. If the dumpster is covered, or the chute is positioned below the container rim, workers will not be able to detect a blockage or notice a blockage forming in the container. Always ensure that the container is promptly switched out as soon as it gets full. 

A very effective way to direct the debris that is coming down the chute is to drop a rope down the chute system leaving plenty of rope at the bottom for a worker to pull on and direct the debris. In doing so, you can fill your dumpster much quicker and with less effort.

If a blockage ever occurs, you need to act fast. Evacuate the area below the chute and block any potential entryways near the affected area. Do not allow workers or any personal to approach the chute. Manipulating the chute or attempting to clear the blockage can become fatal, consider that the chute system could fail at any moment without warning. Bring a crane with lots of residual capacity to lower the chute to the ground. Once the chute is safely lowered workers can begin dismantling and clearing the blockage. After the chute is cleared, ensure it is assembled properly and reinstall the chute.

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