Best Practices for Machinery Safety Guards

machineryMachinery that lack safety guards pose a serious threat to workers with hazards ranging from lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions and the most severe injury, amputation. Vigilance in safety precautions and thorough worker training are critical to avoid these types of accidents.

Recently OSHA fined a paperboard mill more than $350,000 for violations that included using machinery that did not have safety locks to prevent the accidental start-up of machinery during maintenance and lack of Personal Protective Equipment.

According to OSHA, safeguards must meet these minimum general requirements:

  • Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent hands, arms, and 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 parts of their bodies 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 firmly be 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 way 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 as 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.

Experts also emphasize that although all machines consist of three fundamental areas: the point of operation, the power transmission device and the operating controls, the safeguarding needs widely differ due to varying physical characteristics and operator involvement.

In addition to safeguards, it is important to employ special hand tools for certain machines that allow an operator to place and remove material from the workstation without the operator placing a hand in the danger zone.

For more construction safety advice, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

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