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Category: Safety Products & Services
Volume: 44
Issue: 1
Article No.: 25762

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Back To Article Directory - Jan/Feb-23

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 machine guards:

  • 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 stock.

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 machine.

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 harm by:

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 used.

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 OSHA violations.
Type Number of Violations
1. Fall Protection (General) 5,260
2. Hazard Communication 2,424
3. Respitory Protection 2,185
4. Ladders 2,185
5. Scaffolding 2,058
6. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/tagout) 1,977
7. Powered Industrial Trucks 1,749
8. Fall Protection (Training) 1,556
9. Personal Protective Equipment 1,401
Macine Gurading 1,370

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.

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