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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: Machine Guarding

Recently, two companies that work with plastic asked us to come to their facility to conduct a safety audit. We also conducted a machine guarding course to educate their management team, maintenance personnel and safety committees. The training emphasized the OSHA standards for machine safeguarding and lockout and tagout. Both employers recently had amputations on their machines and OSHA subsequently paid them a visit. After OSHA arrived on the scene they ended up issuing citations and penalties to these two employers. In both cases the penalties were in excess of $500,000.00 and to make matters worse, the employers were required to fix the machines in record-breaking time. And you can bet the required downtime to correct all of these machine hazards hurt the manufacturing schedule.

Plastics fabricating machines are complex pieces of equipment that require certain specialty guards to protect employees from nip points, numerous moving parts and exposure to high voltage and high temperatures. Serious injuries including fatalities, amputations, avulsions, burns, cuts bruises can occur during operation. Such injuries may result from guards that are missing, improperly installed, removed or bypassed.

Normally an accident occurs when an employee reaches into an unguarded portion of the machine. Remember to have a machine that is properly guarded, the employee must not be able to reach over, under, around or through the machine guard and be able to reach the danger zone or point of operation on the machine. Injuries that can occur include; amputations, avulsions (de-gloving, considered a near-miss to amputations), fractures, burns and in extreme cases death.

Corrective measures include instructing their employees to read the owners/operators manuals and to bring unsafe conditions to the attention of their supervisors. It should also be company policy that employees:

  • Never attempt to reach around, under, over or through a guard. If a person standing on the floor can reach over the machine or machine guard into the point of operation, the employer should install new guarding or modify the existing guarding to prevent that from occurring. One common approach is to install a top guard that is either fixed or interlocked, depending on the need for access to the work area.
  • Never remove, alter or attempt to otherwise bypass a safety interlock.
  • Do not remove or open a fixed guard for normal operating tasks.
  • Provide training on the safety hazards and features of the machinery for all employees who will potentially operate it.
Recently, in an effort to reduce accidents to employees working in the plastic industry, the Society of the Plastics Industry. Inc. (SPI) and OSHA formed an alliance. The OSHA and SPI alliance focuses on providing employers with information and guidance that will help them protect employees’ health and safety, particularly in identifying and eliminating hazards likely to result in amputations and reducing and preventing exposure to ergonomic hazards. The goals of the alliance include:

Training And Education

  • Developing training addressing machine safety and safe ergonomic practices, to be delivered in conferences, meetings and through SPI’s Plastics Learning Network.
  • Outreach and communication.
  • Encouraging the continuing development of ergonomic guidelines by the plastics industry.
  • Jointly developing and disseminating information and guidance on workplace safety and health issues, including but not limited to amputation and ergonomic hazards and control mechanisms such as lock-out/tag-out and machine guarding through SPI workshops, meetings and print and electronic media.
  • Promoting OSHA’s cooperative programs within the industry.


The first year of the SPI/OSHA alliance brought national recognition of the plastics industry’s focus on improving workplace safety. OSHA has a web page developed as a product of the alliance, noting that more than 1.5 million workers in the U.S. plastics industry stand to benefit from this alliance. Click on html to access the OSHA Assitance for the Plastics Industry website. It provides links to:

  • Safety and health information about the plastics industry.
  • Standards that apply to plastics processing.
  • Information about hazards and solutions.
  • Focused links to all tools developed under the alliance.
If you are interested in receiving a free generic safety inspection check sheet for the machines referenced, Basic Job Safety & Health Analysis (JSHA), generic safety placards, generic daily maintenance or operator inspection check list or free train-the-trainer PowerPoint presentations on your type of machinery, please contact us and we will send it to you.

OSHA through the alliance with the SPI developed several programs available and offers them as PowerPoint presentations. See to download the presentations.

If you have questions regarding workplace safety, please visit our website at where you will find helpful information on a variety of topics. Until next time, take care and please remember; “It is either safe or it is unsafe” and in my opinion it is better to be safe than sorry.

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

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