Machinery Guards

OSHA Requirements for Machinery Guards in the Workplace

Every workplace has some level of hazard.  For industrial and assembly workplaces there are particularly dangerous machines that could seriously injure, maim, or kill a person.  Plant workers, managers, and even casual passersby must adhere to very strict safety regulations in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. OSHA has a mountain of regulations for workplace safety. Machinery guards are one particular area that can be very helpful for workplace safety while also helping to improve overall productivity.

Workers who feel comfortable that their machinery is safe will be more productive and contribute more to the business.  With fewer injuries your business is able to meet quotas and continue to be profitable. And machine guards can help you in all of these areas. For every piece of machinery, OSHA mandates that there be at least one type of guarding mechanism in place.

Secure the device and the machine guard so that certain parts cannot be manipulated or tampered with by personnel. Protect against splatter or falling debris while using the machine during normal operation or during maintenance. Avoid causing additional hazards as a result of the machine guard installation such as sharp edges or pinching mechanisms. Allow easy operation of the machine without interfering with productivity or efficient use of the device.

The type of machinery guards that is used in your plant can vary depending on the type of work performed.  Some machines require specialized guards while others can use more standardized solutions.

The types of guarding options include:

Fixed guards: Designed as a permanent part of the device, these guards are sturdy and should not be removed or manipulated.

Interlocked guards: When used these guards will disable or pause machine operations whenever they are raised, opened or removed.

Adjustable guards: When a device needs protection but also needs to be adaptable to certain heights or angles, this type of guard is utilized and can be manually changed depending on the worker or the type of use.

Self-adjusting guards: Automatically adjusting guards are helpful for machines where operations require movement, such as trimming certain types of wood for furniture.

Machinery guards should be routinely inspected to make sure all devices have the proper protection in place.  Also plant workers should be fully trained on the importance of machine guarding and the proper use of guards.  Anytime new equipment is purchased, be sure to add to your installation checklist to inspect the machine guards and confirm they will adequately protect. If any machinery guard breaks, cracks, or is damaged in any way there should be a priority action to address the issue.  Often it is best to completely replace the guard versus a repair because the structural integrity of the guard could be compromised.

Your business can become safer and more efficient through the proper use of machine guarding solutions.

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