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November / December 2002

Machine Guarding

By Sean M. Alvarez
CSP

According to OSHA, workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths per year.  You can help to reduce injuries of this nature at your workplace by developing and implementing a Machine Guarding Safety Program.

Effective Machine Guarding Safety Programs are fundamental components of most workplace safety and health programs.  Machine guarding helps to prevent items such as arms, fingers, hair and clothing from coming into contact with moving or dangerous parts of machinery. Without such guarding, the result can be severe or even fatal.

To develop such a program you should first understand the ways that your machinery can move and the non-moving hazards of the equipment.  These movements and hazards can cause severe damage should a body part come in contact.

You should identify the "Points of Operation" and power transmission sources for each machine or piece of equipment.  Knowing both the moving / non-moving hazards of the machinery and the "Points of Operation" will help you to understand what types of guarding may be necessary.

You should evaluate the guards present and the ability for the operator to bypass the guard.  Many injuries occur as a result of the operator removing the guard because "It was in the way". 

Many pieces of equipment are engineered for safety.  Removing manufacturer-installed guards should be restricted, if not prohibited at your workplace. You should employ a method such as a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to identify solutions to problematic guards, machines or energy sources.  

Finally, while machine guarding is encouraged to prevent injuries, there are also some legal requirements in OSHA standards that you need to know and comply with.  These include, but are not limited to, OSHA General Industry Standards, Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1910 and the Construction Industry Standards in CFR 1926.  Specifically, you should become familiar with the requirements of Subpart O of the General Industry Standards and/or Subpart I of the Construction Standards.

A Machine Guarding Safety Program can significantly improve the safety at your workplace.   Make sure that your employees are properly trained on the use of each piece of equipment and the guards that protect the operator. 

Remember, wherever there is a machine part, function or process that can cause injury to your employees, you must provide guards.  Learn more about machine guarding and how to develop your own Machine Guarding Safety Program by using the following links as benchmarks:

OSHA Subpart O:

1910 Subpart O - Machinery and Machine Guarding

1910.211 - Definitions.

1910.212 - General requirements for all machines.

1910.213 - Woodworking machinery requirements.

1910.215 - Abrasive wheel machinery.

1910.216 - Mills and calenders in the rubber and plastics industries.

1910.217 - Mechanical power presses.

1910.217 App A - Mandatory requirements for certification/validation of safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical power presses

1910.217 App B - Nonmandatory guidelines for certification/validation of safety systems for presence sensing device initiation of mechanical power presses

1910.217 App C - Mandatory requirements for OSHA recognition of third-party validation organizations for the PSDI standard

1910.217 App D - Nonmandatory supplementary information

1910.218 - Forging machines.

1910.219 - Mechanical power-transmission apparatus.

OSHA Machine Guarding Standard interpretations

A Guide to Practical Machine Guarding - Queensland Government (PDF)

Concepts and Techniques of Machine Safeguarding . OSHA Publication 3067 (1992), 9 chapters.  An OSHA publication covering nearly all aspects of Machine Guarding.

Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Workers from Amputations. OSHA Publication 3170 (2001) 1186K PDF. This publication is a generic, non-exhaustive overview of standards-related topics that provides information to help identify and manage common amputation hazards associated with operating and using stationary equipment.

Guidelines for Machine Guarding. Government of Manitoba, Workplace Safety and Health Branch.  All about guarding, guarding methods, guard construction and a machine guarding checklist.  

Guidelines for Machine Guarding . ES&H Bulletin #23, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC); General discussion of machine hazards and proper safeguarding techniques.

Documents by Topic: Machinery Safety . The National Ag Safety Database (NASD), Several informative NASD documents discussing machinery safety for different types of agricultural equipment, and machine guarding in general.

Sample machine guarding checklist from Oklahoma State University EHS (PDF)

NIOSH ALERT: Preventing Scalping and Other Severe Injuries from Farm Machinery. NIOSH Publication No. 94-105 (1994, June), 8 pages. This NIOSH alert includes case studies involving farm machinery injuries, discussions of machinery hazards, and recommendations for preventing injuries.

Preventing Farm Machine Hazards. Ohio State University Extension, Agricultural Engineering Fact Sheet. Hhazards associated with farm machinery and the importance of guarding.

Industrial Robots and Robot System Safety. OSHA Technical Manual.

Engineering Services Safety. Office of Health and Safety Information System (OhASIS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health and Safety Manuals, Engineering Safety Manual.  Chapter 16-00-40 entitled "Machinery" of this CDC manual discusses general machinery safety as well as guarding requirements.

Machine Guarding Requirements - Princeton University Health and Safety Guide policy document

 Woodworking Machinery. DOE OSH Technical Reference. Includes information on safety for woodworking machinery.

Potential Hazards Associated with the Use of Replacement Materials for Machine Guarding. US Dept of Labor Hazard Information Bulletin - 14K PDF. Replacement machine guard must meet or exceed the manufacturer's original design specifications.

1910.217(g) Point of Operation Injury Reports 8/94 - 12/00 FR, Vol. 39 No. 233 (1974, December 3). Final Rule. Chart of injury reports from 8/94 - 12/00. A chart summarizing "point of operation" injuries from mechanical power presses.

Injuries and Amputations Resulting from Work with Mechanical Power Presses. NIOSH Publication. This Intelligence Bulletin describes the hazards of mechanical power presses and provides safety recommendations.

Guarding of Radiofrequency PVC welding machines (PDF)

Guarding on Mincing Machines - Queensland Government (PDF)

Guarding of Rising Blade Type Docking Saws(PDF)

Guarding of Hydracut Guillotines - Queensland Government (PDF)

Pile-Hole Guards - Queensland Government (PDF)

Guarding of Table Saws (October 1998) - Queensland Government (PDF)

Operation of Brake presses in an Unguarded Condition - Queensland Government (PDF)

Safeguarding of Automatically Controlled Machinery - Queensland Government (PDF)

Grain Hoppers, Silos and Similar Storage Bins - Queensland Government (PDF)

Guarding of Powered Chopper/Shredder Machines - Queensland Government (PDF)

Guarding of Cooling Fan on Kubota GV Generator - Queensland Government (PDF)

Mobile Bulk Cement and Gravel Mixers - Queensland Government (PDF)

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