Machinery Guarding for Worker Safety

The operation of machinery and equipment can be extremely dangerous. Injuries involving machinery and equipment often result in permanent disability. OSHA’s more than 40-year inspection experience indicates that employee exposures to unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery and equipment, together with associated hazardous energy, occur in many worksites.

OSHA recently cited a Florida company for a lack of machine guarding on several pieces of equipment which resulted in a worker suffering partial finger amputation. The company was also cited for failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions, and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy.

In addition, OSHA issued citations for the company’s failure to ensure employees wore hearing protection, to correct electrical hazards, anchor a drill press, and to record injuries and illnesses within seven calendar days. The manufacturing company faces $398,545 in penalties, including the maximum amount allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

To mitigate these situations, OSHA created the National Emphasis Program on Amputation, a directive to bring awareness to the importance of machine guarding and worker training.  The original National Emphasis Program on Amputations, which was scheduled to expire on August 13, 2018, has been extended through September 30, 2019.

Some of the specific goals of the program include:

  • OSHA workplace requirements prescribe measures for the safe operation, servicing and maintenance of machinery and equipment. (29 CFR 1910.147, 1910.212, 1910.213, 1910.217, and 1910.219.)
  • Outreach programs with employers, professional associations, and local unions may include meetings, training, education, speeches or other activities designed to involve labor and management in the identification and elimination of hazards associated with amputations and machinery.

Machine Guarding

  • Guards provide physical barriers to hazardous areas. They should be secure and strong, and workers should not be able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them. Guards should not obstruct the operator’s view or prevent others from working.
  • Devices help prevent contact with points of operation and may replace or supplement guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation.

Fixed Guards.  A fixed guard is a permanent part of the machine. It is not dependent upon moving parts to function. It may be constructed of sheet metal, screen, wire cloth, bars, plastic, or any other material that is substantial enough to withstand whatever impact it may receive and to endure prolonged use. This guard is usually preferable to all other types because of its relative simplicity.

Interlocked Guards. When this type of guard is opened or removed, the tripping mechanism and/or power automatically shuts off or disengages, the moving parts of the machine are stopped, and the machine cannot cycle or be started until the guard is back in place. An interlocked guard may use electrical. mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic power or any combination of these. Interlocks should not prevent “inching” by remote control if required. Replacing the guard should not automatically restart the machine. To be effective, all removable guards should be interlocked to prevent occupational hazards.

For more information on machinery safety, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.



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