The Plastics Distributor and Fabricator - Your Industry Magazine
The Plastics Distributor and Fabricator, Your Industry Magazine
Plastic Spacer
News Features Series Articles Columns
Plastic Spacer
Return Home
Article Keyword Search
Author Biography
Eye Safety & Safety Glasses (Jan/Feb-24)
Protecting Employees When Performing Machine Operations (Nov/Dec-23)
Protecting Students from Machine Hazards (Jul/Aug-23)
Electrical Safety (May/Jun-23)
Machine Guarding (Jan/Feb-23)
Have We Learned Anything About Safety Over the Last Fifty Years? (Nov/Dec-22)
OSHA Annouces 2021 Top 10 Frequently Cited Standards (Sep/Oct-22)
Have You Conducted Your Periodic Lockout & Tagout Audit? (Jan/Feb-22)
Workplace Violence (Jul/Aug-21)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-21)
Creating A Safety Culture (Nov/Dec-20)
Before You Purchase New Machinery (Sep/Oct-20)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-20)
OSHA Issues Interim Guidance to Help Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Mar/Apr-20)
Have You Recently Conducted Your Required Safety & Health Program Audits? (Nov/Dec-19)
Does OSHA Cite Employers Equally? (May/Jun-19)
Are You Ready For The New Year? (Mar/Apr-19)
Creating a Safety Culture Means Staying Informed (Nov/Dec-18)
Safe Lifting Techniques (Sep/Oct-18)
Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Jul/Aug-18)
Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
Select issue:

SAFETY SOLUTIONS: OSHA & Machine Safeguarding

It is 2015 and we are still hearing about workers being seriously injured or killed by machinery that is located in the workplace. An extremely important area of the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 are the Federal and State OSHA standards, which protects a machine operator from hazards associated with machinery and its operations. However, too frequently, the purpose of machine safeguarding is misunderstood in that it is thought to concern itself with the point of operation hazards only.

The definition of Point of Operation is: “The area on a machine at which work is performed on the material being processed”. Too many times the positioning of electrical controls, separate & properly installed emergency stops, guarding of belts and pulleys, non-slip walking surfaces, protection from flying chips and sparks, and proper color-coding of machine guards and parts are often neglected when manufactures are building equipment or when safety professionals are conducting inspections of machinery.

Specifically, machine safeguarding protects against and prevents injury from the following sources:

  • Direct contact with the moving parts of a machine.
  • Splashing of hot metal or chemicals and chips from machine tool operations.
  • Mechanical and electrical failures. (Power outage protection).
  • Human failure, resulting from human traits such as curiosity, distraction, fatigue, worry, anger, illness, as well as deliberate chance taking.

An effective machine safety program must begin with a thorough analysis of the potential hazards created by the machines used in the facility. The specific hazards both mechanical and non-mechanical are identified. On the basis of this analysis, a determination will be made on the best way to reduce or eliminate identified hazards.

Machine hazard analysis consists of four elements:

1. Determine the steps in operating the machine. For example:

  • What hazard(s) is the operator exposed to when he / she is setting up or starting up the machine?
  • What hazard(s) is the operator exposed to when performing a particular job?
  • What hazard(s) are present when the operator or maintenance person must make adjustments on the machine?
  • What hazard(s) are present when performing cleaning or clearing of the machine?

2. Identify existing or potential hazards for each operating step. For each step there may be one or more existing or potential hazards associated with whatever actions the operator is taking. Example: is the worker wearing clothing or jewelry, or does the operator have long hair that could get caught in the machine? Or is the worker positioned to the machine in a way that is potentially dangerous?

3. Evaluate the cause of the hazard. Once you have examined the various steps a machine operator takes to perform the job, you need to determine the cause of the hazard so that preventive measures can be taken.

4. Choose the most effective measures to prevent accidents and injuries. When the reasons workers are exposed to hazards become clear, effective steps can be taken to abate the hazards. At this stage, it is best to review the hazards with the operator(s) and decide together how the job can be performed to eliminate the hazard.

The Problem

Guarding of machinery is required to prevent injury to the operator and other people in the machine area. It is presumed that machine designers strive to produce machinery, which will perform the intended function without damage to itself and without causing injury to the operator.

Today, many well-known machine manufacturers still fabricate and sell their equipment without the necessary safeguards and electrical controls required by OSHA, national consensus standards and various safety regulations to protect people from hazards not associated with the point of operation.

Many of these manufacturers never warn the person buying their equipment that safety devices are missing. Would you want to purchase their equipment for your family, or employees to use without it being equipped with the proper safety equipment? Would you like to be cited by OSHA and penalized for not having the proper safeguarding equipment that is required to be installed by the manufacturer? Well chances are, you are at risk for this potential everyday. Today, many of these hazards are missed or overlooked by most inspectors and they end up in your shop.

Machine safety standards have been in place for the last thirty years. A good example of this statement is that according to the most recent safety regulation, machinery must not be able to restart by itself after a power failure. Federal OSHA requires and they state in 29CFR 1910.213 (b)(3) the following: “On applications where injury to the operator might result if motors were to restart after power failures, provision shall be made to prevent machines from automatically restarting upon restoration of power”. This standard is specific to woodworking machinery, but what about plastic working machinery?

Product Safety Issues

Designing machine safety also has product liability implications. A product liability “state of the art design” is established by case law and social expectations that demand a high level of safety for the users and bystanders. If a machine is defective and its use results in injury, the injured party may seek compensation through product liability.

Another type of hazard that has not been the subject of a major recall yet, but one is expected in the near future, is the hazard of power outage protection. Power outage protection, an important safety device, is missing from most low cost equipment. Many unsuspecting employers have purchased machinery like grinders, drill presses, band saws, scroll saws, sanding equipment, and other types of machinery, where leading manufacturer’s or the employer has never installed these electrical safety controls.

Many devices can be added to machinery to protect operators from this hazard. Some of these devices are not Underwriters Laboratories Listed or use Underwriter Recognized Parts (UR) and do not carry the UL listed marking. State electrical codes require that most equipment be UL listed, thus employers could be wasting their money by installing the wrong electrical devices. Major machine safeguarding suppliers and other places sell these products to unsuspecting employers and these devices can injure people and also catch on fire. Also if you install these devices on your machinery and you do not go back to an authorized testing laboratory, you have then violated the UL listing of that piece of equipment. If it catches fire and burns your facility down, your insurance carrier may not cover the loss.

To check if your machines has this sleeping hazard conduct the following test:

  • After ensuring that the machine is safe to start, and wearing the proper protective equipment, start the machine and let it come to operating speed.
  • Shut down the machine by unplugging it from the wall, if cord connected, or turning it off at the main breaker.
  • When the machine comes to a stop, turn the breaker back on or plug the machine back into the wall.
  • Did the machine restart? If the answer is yes, then the machine was not properly designed and power outage protection needs to be installed.

What can you do?

Optimum machine safeguarding can only be achieved by using an approach that combines safe equipment with safe operation. Following the portion of the OSHA standard related to your work activity will never reduce all potential accidental loss, many of these OSHA standards are outdated and many times are in conflict with one another. A machine-guarding program that does not address each potential hazard (task/risk analysis) including ergonomics and education can never be a successful program. Practicality and common sense can be relied on to govern decisions, especially when these are tempered by a sincere desire to protect human life and limb. Should you ever need information on how to properly guard a machine, please feel free to contact me at jpodojil@podojilconsulting. com.

  • From Industrial Accident Prevention written in 1941 by the grandfather of the safety movement H.W. Heinrich, Assistant Superintendent Engineering and Inspection for the Travelers Insurance Company.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.

Back To Top
Plastic Spacer

Copyright © 2024
Plastics Distributor® & Fabricator Magazine
P.O. Box 669
LaGrange, Illinois 60525-0669
All Rights Reserved.
Header Image courtesy of Nylatech, Inc.

Phone: (708) 588-1845
Fax: (708) 588-1846
Email Us