Basics of Machine Guarding

The basic types of hazardous mechanical motions and actions are:

  • Motions:
    • Rotating (including in-running nip points)
    • Reciprocating
    • Transversing
  • Actions:
    • Cutting
    • Punching
    • Shearing
    • Bending

Minimal general requirements for safety guards:

  • Prevent contact - must prevent hands, arms, and any other part of the body from making contact with moving parts
  • Be secure - workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safety guard
    • Should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use
    • Must be firmly secured to machine
  • Protect from falling objects - ensure that no objects fall into moving parts
  • Create no new hazards - the guard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, jagged edge, or unfinished surface
  • Create no interference - proper safety guarding can actually enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker's apprehensions about injury
  • Allow safe lubrication - one should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safety guards
    • Locate oil reserves outside the guard with a line leading to the lubricating point

Thorough operator training should involve instruction and/or hands on training in the following:

  1. A description and identification of hazards associated with particular machines
  2. The safety guards themselves, how they protect, and the hazards they are intended to protect the worker from
  3. How to use safety guards and why
  4. How and under what circumstances safety guards can be removed, and by whom
  5. What to do (contact supervisor) if guard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide protection
  6. This training is necessary for new operators, maintenance or setup personnel when any new or altered safety guards are put into service, or when workers are assigned to a new machine or operation

Look for Heroic Safety's future Safety Huddle on specific OSHA machine guarding requirements. Always consult the OSHA standards for further details.

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