Machine Guarding & Safety Systems

Moving machine parts have the potential for causing severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, blindness or even death. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these needless and preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be either eliminated or controlled.

Some Typical Requirements for Safeguards

What must a safeguard do to protect workers against mechanical hazards? Safeguards must meet these minimum general requirements:

  • Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent hands, arms, or any other part of a worker's body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of the operator or another worker placing their hands near hazardous moving parts.

  • Secure: Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard, because a safeguard that can easily be made ineffective is no safeguard at all. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.

  • Protect from falling objects: The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts. A small tool which is dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure someone.

  • Create no new hazards: A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface which can cause a laceration. The edges of guards, for instance, should be rolled or bolted in such a why that they eliminate sharp edges.

  • Create no interference: Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding can actually enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker's apprehensions about injury.

  • Allow safe lubrication: If possible, one should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards. Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for the operator or maintenance worker to enter the hazardous area.