Machine Guarding

Machine Guarding Features in Manufacturing Plants

Machine guarding is a safety feature on or around manufacturing or other engineering equipment consisting of a shield or device covering hazardous areas of a machine to prevent contact with body parts or to control hazards like chips or sparks from exiting the machine. Machine guarding provides a means to protect humans from injury while working nearby or while operating equipment. It is often the first line of defense to protect operators from injury while working on or around industrial machinery during normal operations.

The importance of point machine guarding. Point guarding refers to guarding of moving parts on a machine that present a hazard to the machine operator or others who may come in contact with the hazard. OSHA 1910.212 requires these guards to be “affixed to the machine where possible.  Specifics for the type and construction of the guard are determined by the proximity of the guard to the hazard, and the type of hazard. Point of Operation Guarding refers to guarding the area of the machine where the work is performed. Construction of the machine and the guarding should “prevent the operator from having any part of his or her body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.

Fixed perimeter machine guards. Perimeter or barrier guarding refers to a barrier placed around a work area where an automated piece of equipment-like a robotic arm-performs a function. This type of guarding is generally a wire partition system, but also can take the form of pressure sensitive mats or light curtains. Wire partitions systems used as machine guards must be fixed in place either on the machine or around its perimeter. These guarding systems may be configured with various sizes of wire mesh, solid sheet metal, or clear polycarbonate panels. Use of these materials depends on the hazard being guarded and the distance between the hazard and the guard. Mesh opening size of the guard depends on the proximity of the guard to the hazard. If the guard is installed close to moving parts, the mesh openings must be smaller than if the guard is installed a greater distance away from the moving parts. Mesh opening sizes for specific distances from the hazard are defined in ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012. Solid barriers such as sheet metal or clear view polycarbonate can be used to shield the hazard as well as control sparks or liquids. Size of the barrier (height and width) must conform to ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012. Wire partition guards provide a means of access to the guarded equipment with doors, lift out sections, or other controlled openings.

Machine guarding with weld curtains around a robotic weld cell. Robotic Welding Cells incorporate wire mesh fixed barriers outfitted with vinyl welding curtains and light curtains or pressure sensitive mats. The welding curtains mounted inside of the fixed barrier control exposure to welding flash, sparks and spatter from the welding operation. While the light curtain or pressure sensitive mats prevent welding operations while the operator is loading/unloading the weld fixtures.

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