SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Machine Guarding
Welcome to 2023. I hope your holidays were
happy but were also safe. I started off my business
year by receiving three different requests
to review some newly installed machines. I have inspected
these machines and guess what, they were not properly
guarded. Remember that the word “Guard” means that
you cannot reach over, under, around, or through to reach
a danger point on a machine. The following items are not
- Photoelectric light curtains
- Pressure sensitive mats
- Laser sensors
- Radiofrequency devices
- Chip shields
Machinery related injuries are some of the worst in the
industry today. Workers get caught in machines and suffer
severe injuries such as crushed
arms, legs, severed fingers, or
blindness, and some are even
killed. Can these injuries and
deaths be prevented? Of course,
they can, with the proper use of
machine guards. Mechanical hazards
occur in the following areas:
1. Point of Operation - the point
where work is performed on
the material, such as cutting,
shaping, boring, or forming of
2. Power Transmission Apparatus
- all components of the mechanical
system which transmit
energy to the part of the machine
performing the work. These components include flywheels, pulleys, belts,
connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains,
cranks, and gears.
3. Other Moving Parts - all parts of the machine which
move while the machine is working. These can include
reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts,
as well as feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the
To prevent injury from any of these hazards, guards
must be in place and never removed while work is in
progress. Knowing how a safeguard protects workers is
just as important as having the machine guard itself in
place. The machine guard protects the worker from
1. Preventing contact: the guard must prevent any part
of a worker’s body or clothing from making contact
with dangerous moving parts.
2. Securing: all machine guards must be securely affixed
to the machine to prevent tampering or removal.
3. Protecting from falling objects: a machine guard
ensures that no objects can fall into moving parts and
thus become deadly projectiles.
4. Creating no new hazards: an additional hazard such
as having a jagged edge or shear point must not be
created by the guard itself.
5. Creating no interference: machine guards must not
impede workers in the performance of their jobs. A
machine guard provides safety and enhances efficiency.
Following manufacturer instruction
manuals, warning labels and
hands-on-training for machine
operators should be required:
1. Description and identification
of hazards associated with particular
machines should be
performed and a job safety activity
analysis or an activity
hazard analysis should be performed
before a worker is assigned
to the job.
2. The employers’ supervisors and
employees should be taught
how machine guards provide
protection from the hazards involved.
3. The employer’s supervisors and employees should be
taught how to adjust and why machine guards are
4. Everyone should be made aware of under what circumstances,
and by whom, machine guards can be removed.
5. Everyone should be trained and held accountable to
what to do if a machine guard is missing, damaged, or
does not provide adequate protection. The bottom line
is if a machine has been designed with a guard in
place, do not tamper with or remove it!
Remember, practice safety, don’t learn it by accident.
Annually review your lockout/tagout program with authorized
and affected employees.
Machine guarding injuries are on the rise. According
to OSHA statistics for calendar year 2022: avoiding
OSHA violations is the best way to protect your workers
and your bottom line. Training is an easy and affordable
way to help you prevent some of the most common
|Number of Violations
|1. Fall Protection (General)
|2. Hazard Communication
|3. Respitory Protection
|6. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/tagout)
|7. Powered Industrial Trucks
|8. Fall Protection (Training)
|9. Personal Protective Equipment
If you have any questions, I am available to help. My contact
information is in the bio. Feel free to reach out to
me or visit the IASHEP website for training
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of the page.