Machine Guarding

According to OSHA, the way businesses operate and maintain machines is maiming their workers — 18,000 amputations, lacerations, and other injuries, even 800 deaths — per year. Guards are crucial for preventing injury to workers in the event of an accident or human error. These safety protocols can also help reduce downtime and protect machinery from damage if it malfunctions or breaks down during operation.

When people hear mention of guards on machines, they often think of the lack of guardrails, which could not be further than what we mean by mechanical protection. One significant aspect being prevention measures such as thermal overload systems where motors shut off before overheating occurs, slip clutches stop spinning gears with power sources unplugged, or emergency stops that allow shutdowns without having accidents occur due to contact between moving parts like conveyor belts.

Machine guarding is a vital aspect of workplace safety as it prevents injury or death resulting from machine contact. Limiting access to the machine’s moving parts reduces the chances of various accidents that could happen with this type of machinery. Machine guards are usually put in place to not interfere with the machine’s operation and are detachable or removable for maintenance purposes, like the Saferack RapidGuard II system. Proper machine guarding will protect workers from hazards caused by their own actions and those generated by machines in their working area.

Machine Guard Safety SystemTo be safe, every large machine or equipment with moving parts must have safeguards to prevent hazards. Employees should wear appropriate safety gear and make sure the area is clear of any people or other things before operating unfamiliar equipment.

Despite all machines having the same fundamental aspects, their safeguarding requirements vary significantly due to differences in physical features and technological capabilities needed to operate them. OSHA’s basic machine safety standards are divided into two primary solutions: Guards and Devices.

· Fixed – A fixed guard is a permanent part of the machine. It is not dependent upon moving parts to function.

· Interlocked – 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.

· Adjustable – Adjustable guards are useful because they allow flexibility in accommodating various machine or equipment sizes.

· Self-Adjusting – Almost the same as the adjustable type, but it adjusts itself to accommodate the operator so that he or she can safely work with the machine.

· Photoelectric (Optical) – Uses a system of light sources and controls that can interrupt the machine’s operating cycle. If the light field is broken, the machine stops and will not cycle.

· Radiofrequency (Capacitance) – Uses a radio beam that is part of the machine control circuit. When the capacitance field is broken, the machine will stop or will not activate.

· Electromechanical – Has a probe or contact bar which descends to a predetermined distance when the operator initiates the machine cycle. If there is an obstruction preventing it from descending its full predetermined distance, the control circuit does not actuate the machine cycle.

· Pullback – Primarily used on machines with stroking action. When the slide/ram is up between cycles, the operator is allowed access to the point of operation.

· Restraint (Holdback) – The cables or straps must be adjusted to let the operator’s hands travel within a predetermined safe area. There is no extending or retracting action involved. Consequently, hand-feeding tools are often necessary if the operation involves placing material into the dangerous area.

· Safety Trip Controls – Provides a quick means for deactivating the machine in an emergency. A pressure-sensitive body bar, when depressed, will deactivate the machine. If the operator or anyone trips, loses balance, or is drawn toward the machine, applying pressure to the bar will stop the operation.

· Gate – The gate is a moveable barrier that protects the operator at the point of operation before the machine cycle can be started. Gates are, in many instances, designed to be operated with each machine cycle.

Ultimately, machine guarding relies greatly on safety training. Every employee/member of staff who works equipment must meet the following requirements:

  • Adequate training on using both the equipment and the machine guarding system.
  • Before each usage, inspect the machinery and safeguards.
  • Always employ safety precautions as needed.
  • Notify the owner or facility manager when machines and/or safeguards need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Evaluate the activity to see whether machine protections can be utilized and collaborate with the supervisor to create administrative controls for safety.

Examples of machines that need point-of-operation guarding:

  • Guillotine Cutters 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(a)
  • Shears 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(b)
  • Alligator Shears 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(c)
  • Power Presses 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(d)
  • Milling Machines 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(e)
  • Power Saws 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(f)
  • Jointers 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(g)
  • Portable Power Tools 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(h)
  • Forming Rolls and Calenders 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)(i)
  • Revolving Drums, Barrels, and Containers 1910.212(a)(4)

Furthermore, you can also take note of our guide in eliminating workplace dangers. Industrial safety gates are an excellent way to protect your company’s equipment and prevent worker incidents. Saferack carries a wide variety of options for every size and type of machine, including self-closing gates and lockout/tagout gates that adjust to any length with a universal mounting system.