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Posted on: May 20, 2013 By: Trevor Atherton, Safety Mgr

Machine Guarding

According to OSHA there are approximately 18,000 amputations, laceration, crushing injuries, abrasions and over 800 deaths per year due to unguarded or inadequately guarded machines. There are many different types of mechanical motions or actions that can cause injury to employees these include, but are not limited to, rotating, reciprocating, transversing, cutting, punching, shearing and bending. Machine guarding can protect against projectiles from flying out of the machine, pinch points, entering energized work areas, sparks, entanglement and broken equipment or machinery parts. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are – barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.

Employees shall be trained on the description and identification of the hazards associated with particular machines, the safe guards themselves (how they provide protection and the hazards for which they are intended), how to use the safe guards and why, how and under what circumstances safe guards can be removed and by whom, when lockout/tagout is required and what to do if a safe guard is damaged, missing or unable to provide adequate protection.

The following are a list of machine guarding requirement to protect employees:

General Requirements

  • When power operated tools are designed to accommodate guards, they shall be equipped with such guards when in use.
  • Guards must not create potential hazards and must be attached to the machine where possible.
  • If guards cannot be attached to the machine, attach elsewhere.
  • Belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, drums, fly wheels, chains, or other reciprocating, rotating or moving parts of equipment shall be guarded if such parts are exposed to contact by employees or otherwise create a hazard.

Point of Operation Guarding – the point of operations is the area on a machine where work is performed. Machines that expose an employee to injury must be guarded. The guarding devices shall:

  • Be in compliance with any appropriate standard.
  • If specific standards are not available, the machine construction shall prevent the operator from having any part of his or her body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.
  • Special hand tools used for placing and removing material from the point of operation areas shall allow easy handling of the material without the operator placing a hand in the danger zone. Such tools shall not replace guards and required.

Additional Guarding – The following machines usually require point of operation guarding: guillotine cutters, shears, alligator shears, power presses, milling machines, power saws, jointers, portable power tools and forming rolls and calenders.
Barrels, Containers and Drums – Barrels, containers and drums that revolve must be guarded by an enclosure interlocked with the drive mechanism, so the barrel, gun or container cannot revolve unless the guard enclosure is in place.
Exposure to Blades – When the periphery of the blades of a fan is less than 7 feet above the floor or working level, the blades must be guarded. The guard must not have openings larger than ½ inch.
Fixed Machinery – A machine designed for a fixed location must be securely anchored to prevent walking or moving.
Personal Protective Equipment – PPE shall be worn to protect employees, when employees are exposed to the hazards of falling, flying, abrasive and splashing object or exposed to harmful dusts, fumes, mists, vapors or gasses.
Lockout / Tagout – A effective energy control program must be established consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment, the machine or equipment is isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative.

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