Moving machinery and parts can cause severe injuries in the workplace, including burns, crushed fingers and hands, amputations, and blindness. Safeguards are vital to protecting employees from preventable workplace injuries. A facility or worksite manager can apply a machine guard to any machine part, process, or function that may cause injury. North American Safety Products offers machine-guarding solutions for manufacturing, industrial, and commercial settings.
Here we’ll explain machine guarding, its applications, and how to meet OSHA machine guarding requirements so you know the type of solution that will most benefit your facility or worksite.
What Is Machine Guarding?
Machine guarding is a barrier between a machine and workers in industrial settings like plants, factories, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses. Separating workers from moving parts and processes, machine guards can also contain flying debris, control traffic, and prevent vehicles from entering certain areas.
Safety barriers are required for any machine with cutting teeth, moving belts, meshing gears, reciprocating arms, rotating components, shears, or other hazards. Facility and worksite managers can place machine guarding on or around these hazardous areas to prevent human contact with any sparks and chips exiting the machine operation area. Guarding may take the form of a shield or covering device.
OSHA Machine Guarding Requirements
OSHA machine guarding requirements are defined under standard 1910.212, which indicates that one or more machine guarding methods must be provided to protect operators and other workers from the creation of sparks, flying chips, rotating parts, and ingoing nip points, which may originate from saws, hydraulic presses, and lathes. OSHA machine guarding can include electronic safety devices, two-hand tripping devices, and barrier guards.
While it is preferable for machine guarding to be attached to the machine directly, it can be secured to another point if it is otherwise impossible to attach the guard to the machine. However, the guard should not be attached in a way that causes or contributes to workplace injury.
Machine Guarding Benefits
Machine guarding offers the following benefits in addition to keeping operators and workers safe from occupational injuries:
- Easy Cleaning: Machine guarding prevents injury from sawdust, sparks, paint, and other materials exiting the machine during tasks like cutting, welding, and painting. The guarding also collects the waste materials within a smaller area, making cleaning easier, safer, and less time-consuming.
- Increased Worker Access: Certain types of machine guarding can reduce the hazardous area around the machine, increasing the overall working space.
- Reduced Downtime: Machine guarding prevents injuries that lead to downtime. Employees can remain productive throughout the day without interruptions due to injury.
- Regulatory Compliance: Facilities and worksites must use machine guarding to comply with local and industry regulations from regulatory bodies like OSHA. Fulfilling the minimum requirements ensures the facility complies with regulations and workers have a safer work environment.
- Improved Morale: Machine guarding gives employees a sense that facility management wants to keep them safe and cares about them, improving morale throughout the facility.
- Employee Knowledge: Machine guarding helps add to employee knowledge of best safety practices when working in and around hazardous areas, so they can proactively keep themselves and those around them safe.
Machine Guarding Applications
Machine guarding safety can protect workers from the potentially hazardous materials and components handled by:
- Roll form machines
- Milling machines
- Assembly line machines
Safe operation of this machinery is critical to avoid possible limb loss, burns, crushed hands and fingers, blindness, or even death. Machines do offer integrated machine-guarding systems, but most facilities benefit from a user-implemented machine guard at the point of operation. Machine guarding options are also required for a range of robotics systems.
Machine Guarding Equipment From North American Safety Products
Machine guarding comes in various types to protect workers and operators in industrial environments like warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and machine shops. Guarding reduces injury, helps facilities comply with regulatory bodies like OSHA, and improves productivity. At North American Safety Products, we offer various machine guarding options, including accordion-style gates, wire mesh partitions, and custom machine guarding for your specific application. Our VERSA-GUARD® machine guarding solution is highly portable, expandable, lightweight, and durable.