SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Machine Safety
The trade show season is well under way and many
readers will be attending a variety of shows across
the country searching for new machinery.
Machine guarding and related machinery violations consistently
rank among the top 10 of OSHA citations issued.
Workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer
approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing
injuries, abrasions and over 800 deaths per year.
In one example, a manufacturer of industrial screening
media faces an additional $75,000 in fines from the
OSHA for failing to correct machine guarding hazards
cited during a previous OSHA inspection.
This particular company was cited in June 2007 for
inadequate guarding of moving machine parts and other
hazards at its manufacturing plant. The company agreed
to correct all cited hazards and paid a fine of $4,725.
However, an OSHA follow-up inspection in February 2008
found that three press brakes and eight revolving rollers
remained unprotected, leaving employees exposed to
potential laceration, amputation and crushing injuries. As
a result, OSHA issued two failure to abate citations, with
$75,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a failure to
abate citation when an employer does not correct a cited
violation by an established date. OSHA may impose a
penalty of up to $7,000 per day for each violation.
If you have knowledge that a hazard exists and you do
not correct it, OSHA could issue a Willful Violation. OSHA
defines a Willful Violation as one committed with an intentional
disregard of, or plain indifference. “The purpose of
machine guarding is to prevent any part of an employee’s
body from coming in contact with a machine’s moving
Machine Guarding FAQs
- Q: Why did the manufacturer build it that way?
A: Many manufacturers today are not trained in all the
regulations that apply to machinery. Many manufacturers
of machinery do not follow American National
Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standards or
National Electrical Codes (NEC).
- Q: Why did the purchasing department buy it that way?
A: The success of a machine-guarding program is in the
heart of good bid specifications. Many people who purchase
equipment do not know the regulations themselves
and usually there is no program in place to
inspect the machinery prior to having it shipped to the
location. Then it is too late.
- Q: Why didn’t the facility or maintenance group inspect
the machine before installing it, or why wasn’t it caught
during routine maintenance?
A: Many companies do not have the owners/operators
manuals and thus may not have seen that the point of
operation guard is usually considered an accessory to
- Q: Didn’t the safety professional or the person responsible
for ensuring that the machine met the intent of the
standards prior to purchasing the machine see the
potential problems ahead of time?
A: Many do not have the expertise in machine safety or in
conducting risk assessments and just sign off on the
documents without trying to contact anyone to ensure
that it meets the standards. A good example of this
statement is the purchasing of a small piece of machinery
that does not have power outage protection.
- Q: The best one is this statement, “Well, OSHA has been
or was here and they did not cite the machine”.
A: Believe it or not, OSHA inspectors may not possess the
required expertise to inspect the machine. Many
inspectors have only received a one week course in
machine safeguarding and they, too, walk by hazards
allowing some poor operator to be completely exposed
to a serious injury. In today’s world of potential litigation,
OSHA inspectors can and have been sued for not
bringing the hazard to the employer’s attention if an
employee was injured because of this inattention to
To find out more about what OSHA requires or how they
interpret an OSHA machine guarding standard visit their
website at www.OSHA.gov, then research the documents
located in the “Directive” section. OSHA has also established
a training program on this subject and it can be
found in the “E-tools” section of the site.
Machine safeguarding is a paramount issue for employers,
employees and home craftspeople. Think SAFETY the
next time you operate powered machinery. If you have
machine guarding questions or if I can be of assistance to
you, please feel free to contact me.
Until my next article, please be safe.
|As an additional resource,
provide a wealth of information
topics and programs.
Occupational Safety & Health
National Institute for Occupational
Safety & Health
Canadian Center for Occupational
Health & Safety
National Safety Council
American Society of Safety Engineers
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