Machine Guarding Hazards

Machine Guarding Hazards

Industrial workplaces such as garage workshops, metal fabrication and welding shops, and mechanical or heavy manufacturing facilities will have a variety of machines and tools. Some of the tools may be as simple as a table saw or box fan and sometimes they can be complex and partially robotic and involve hazardous chemicals. Workers responsible to operate, repair, clean, or just work near these machines and tools must be protected from potential hazards.

Machine guards are critical to the safety of workers. Many times, workers do not realize the dangers that they are protected from because of a simple steel or acrylic guard. For this reason, workers should be familiar with the potential hazards introduced when machines with rotating parts, gears, or pulleys are used.

OSHA Standard 1910.212(a)(1) Types of guarding. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.

Recognizing the potential hazards of machines starts with understanding the first place where the potential for injury exists – this is the “point of operation.” According to OSHA the point of operation is the area on a machine where work is actually performed upon the material being processed. Workers have to be protected from point of operation hazards.

OSHA Standard 1910.212(a)(3)(i) Point of operation is the area on a machine where work is actually performed upon the material being processed.

Workers have to be protected from point of operation hazards, power transmission apparatus such as pulleys and chains, and other moving or rotating parts that pose danger to the operator. Workers should be familiar with the potential hazards introduced when machines with rotating parts, gears, or pulleys are used.

OSHA Standard 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) The point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding… shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.

IMPORTANT: During the safety meeting or toolbox talk on Machine Guarding, it is important to emphasize that no one should ever tamper with or remove a machine guard, sensor or safety device. Only personnel that have received specific training and follow the correct procedures are authorized to remove, repair, or modify a machine guard. In addition, workers may need additional training in “Lockout/Tagout” procedures!

 Acrylic guard over rotating parts on a machine.

Acrylic guard over rotating parts on a machine.

More information on Machine Guarding can be found on OSHA's website at osha.gov and at the specific links provided below.

Protect Yourself – Amputations Quick Card (English & Spanish)

Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Workers from Amputations, OSHA Publication 3170

Hazards of Operating Unguarded Stone Cutters & Splitters in Landscaping and Other Worksites SHIB

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