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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: What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery

Do you have a panel saw, table saw, radial arm saw, bandsaw or any other specialty piece of plastic working equipment? If so, OSHA is targeting your industry for machine guarding hazards.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration surveys employers to collect workplace injury and illness data it uses to identify employers whose injury and illness rates are considerably higher than the national average. A letter has been sent to about 15,000 workplaces with the highest numbers of injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work, restricted work activities or job transfers, known as the DART rate.

“Receipt of this letter means that workers in that particular establishment are being injured at a higher rate than in most other businesses of its kind in the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “Employers whose businesses have injury and illness rates this high need to take immediate steps to protect their workers.”

Employers receiving the letters also were provided copies of their injury and illness data, along with a list of the most frequently cited OSHA standards for their specific industry. The letter offered assistance in helping to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by suggesting, among other things, the use of OSHA’s free safety and health consultation services for small businesses provided through the states.

OSHA identified businesses with the nation’s highest rates of workplace injuries and illnesses through employer- reported data from a 2009 survey of about 100,000 worksites. (This survey collected injury and illness data for calendar year 2008.) Workplaces receiving notifications had DART rates more than twice the national average among all U.S. workplaces.

OSHA’s consultation program is available to assist in addressing safety and health in the workplace for employers with 250 or fewer workers. This program is administered by a state agency and operated separately from OSHA’s enforcement program. The service is free and confidential, and there are no fines even if problems are found. Designed for small employers, the consultation program can help an employer identify hazards while finding effective and economical solutions for repairing them. In addition, the OSHA state consultant can assist in developing and implementing a safety and health management system for the workplace.

A list of OSHA’s consultation services is available at consult.html. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Machine guarding hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry and construction standards but what may not be known about how OSHA operates is that they also inspect machinery to ensure they meet the American National Standards Industries ANSI O- 1.1. This standard ensures that employers are meeting their obligation for safe operation of these types of machines. OSHA Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, often referred to as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” Section 5(a)(2) requires employers to “comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.”

I have surveyed over 20,000 pieces of machinery over the past 39 years I have worked in industrial safety. My company specializes in machine guarding audits and remediation. Our reports show that approximately 98 % of the machines we have surveyed were missing power outage protection, emergency stops, proper machine guards and many other safety items. I have written a few machine guarding guides that are available free of charge. My OSHA Training Institute students at California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson California have stated they really assist their machine guarding endeavours.

To see if your machines meet some of the OSHA standards you can check them to ensure that they do not restart after a power failure. OSHA states 1910.213(b)(3) “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.” To check for this major hazard, follow these steps:

  • Ensure that the machine is in the off position and that it is safe to operate.
  • Start the machine in its normal fashion according to the manufacturer’s operator’s manual.
  • Without touching the start/stop buttons pull the plug or use the machine disconnect to shut down the machine.
  • When the machine has stopped, plug the machine back into its power source.
  • If the machine restarts it does not have power outage protection.
If you need to install power outage protection, please ensure that you do not purchase any product that has a UR rating on its device since it is not a UL component and OSHA would cite you for utilizing this product.

Examples of Panel Saw Safety

If you are using a panel saw, ensure that you place it against a wall if the rear side of the machine is unguarded. You can also install a trough guard on the rear of the machine. Follow the tips below to properly use a panel saw and safeguard yourself and employees from danger.

1. Use a Blade Guard

There are two types of guards that you can use on the panel saw. The first mounts on the trunnion assembly and is very traditional. The second guard is placed over the arm and mounts on the extension table. Both of these guards are incredibly effective, but each has differing characteristics.

The first guard moves with the blade as it is tilted, which translates to a narrower side shield. You should also consider if the guard adjusts itself based on the size of the materials you are feeding through it. Using a guard does not mean you are completely safe from getting hurt, as operator error is often a cause of injury. Not all jobs will be able to be completed with the use of a guard so when you have to remove it make sure you follow all other safety measures.

2. Height of the Guard

If you are using a guard that does not adjust itself then you are increasing the chance of injury. You want to make sure that the guard is as effective as it can be for your operating circumstances. Before you begin using the panel saw, make sure that there is minimal clearance from the guard to the top of the material being used. Doing this will help ensure that the guard is properly utilized.

3. Height of the Blade

Many who operate a panel saw will tend to set the height of the blade much higher than it actually needs to be. This is a dangerous practice that does not have to be continued. The blade's gullet is designed to clear the waste material. The blade will continue to function correctly with the height of the blade set to the gullet's bottom as long as it clears the material by no more than 1/4". Anything more than that will or can lead to injury.

4. Positioning of the Hand

Just because a guard is used does not mean the machine is completely safe. Each application of the machine is different and has to be treated as such. Before starting any job, always find the right location for your hands. This will change for each job you do so you will constantly have to reposition your hands for a safe distance. Push sticks and other devices are there for your use and safety and should be used when necessary.

If you own a bandsaw you must guard above the table and also below the table where the saw blade is usually exposed since the manufacturer rarely guards this area.

If you have a disc sander, belt sander or spindle, these machines are always missing the point of operation guard since the manufacturer does not offer a guard for these machines. We have developed guards for all of these machines. Be careful when purchasing the guards from the internet. Many of these specialty guards do not meet OSHA mandates nor do they meet ANSI O1.1.

As a reader of the magazine, if you have questions on how to guard a machine or if you need a free purchase specification where your company places all of the responsibility for proper guarding of your machines on the manufacturer or any other machine guarding issues, contact me at and we will send you free safety information. I have been guarding machines for 39 years and I am a member of the American National Standards Institute for many machine guarding safety standards so we will guide you on how to properly protect your employees.

For more information,

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