Machine Guarding

What is machine guarding?

Machine guarding is a practice used in industry to describe the safeguarding of people from a machine’s dangerous contact points, which can cause serious injury, amputation or death. Equipment such as mechanical presses, press brakes, conveyors, drill presses, printing presses, roll-forming machines, roll-bending machines, shearing machines, milling machines, grinders, meat cutters, food slicers, table saws, portable saws, and other rotary, press, cutting or drilling machines are commonly cited during machine guarding discussions because they have led to serious injuries and occupational fatalities.

What basic hazards are associated with machines?

1. Rotation motion which can grab and pull users into machine action
2. Reciprocating motion which can grab and pull users into machine action
3. Transversing motion which can grab and pull users into machine action
4. Feeding motion which can grab and pull users into machine action
5. Cutting action which can cut or sever extremities and limbs
6. Punching action which can crush extremities and limbs
7. Shearing action which can sever extremities and limbs
8. Bending action which can break bones
9. In-running nip points which can pinch or pinch off extremities or limbs

* In many cases, small to medium size machines with the above characteristics have led to occupational fatalities.

What can you do to prevent incidents related to unguarded machines?

1. Inspect machines visually before each use for non-essential items, debris or other hazards
2. Never operate a machine unless you have been trained to use it safely
3. Never remove guards from machines or equipment except when in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations
4. Never perform repairs or maintenance on machines unless you have been trained to do so
5. If performing repair or maintenance on machines, ensure you are trained on any required lockout / tagout procedures prior to performing the repair or maintenance
6. Never modify machines unless you have written permission from the manufacturer and your supervisor
7. Ensure that personal protective equipment is worn whenever possible as a secondary measure to protect yourself from hazards while using machines
8. Keep loose clothing, hair, jewelry or other loose items tied up or out of the way to avoid being pulled into machine action
9. Never exchange your own personal safety for improved time or efficiency

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