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Machine Guarding

Ensuring that equipment and machinery is properly safeguarded prevents injuries, such as amputations.

A good rule of thumb is that any part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded.

Machine guards are a type of safeguard.

A guard is a barrier that prevents exposure to an identified hazard.

Guards are a preferred method to protect employees since they are physical barriers that enclose dangerous machine parts and prevent workers from coming into contact with them.

For guards to be effective, they must be strong and fastened by a secure method that prevents the guard from being inadvertently dislodged or removed.

Guards are typically secured using screws, bolts, and lock fasteners requiring a tool to unfasten or remove them.

Guards should not create additional hazards such as pinch points or shear points between the guard and other machine parts.

Fixed guards are barriers that do not allow workers to reach the dangerous area.

A fixed guard permanently encloses the hazard area or point of operation.

An adjustable guard is a barrier that adjusts for a variety of production operations.

An interlocking barrier guard shuts-off or disengages power and prevents machine start-up when the guard is open.

Always perform a hazard analysis prior to performing a job or task.

A hazard analysis is a technique that focuses on the relationship between the worker, the task, tools, and the work environment.

Focus on equipment or machines within the work area, specifically whether they are adequately guarded.

Always lock and tag out equipment should guarding be insufficient or missing.


Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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