Machine guarding protects workers from mechanical hazards. Hazards occur where machines cut, shape, bore, punch, or form stock. Machine parts that transmit energy such as flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks, and gears are also hazards. Reciprocating, rotating, transverse moving parts, and feed mechanisms also require guards.
The purpose of machine guarding is to keep workers away from mechanical hazards. Some guards can prevent tools and objects from falling into moving machinery that could then become a projectile or cause serious malfunction. By preventing contact with dangerous moving parts, guards can prevent workers from putting their body parts into or near machine hazards that can cut, crush, amputate, and even cause death.
Machine guards should be made of sturdy, durable materials. Guards should be kept in good repair. They should not have sharp or jagged edges that could cause cuts or punctures. Guards should be secured to the equipment so that employees cannot easily remove, tamper, bypass, or disable them.
Guards should not create new hazards while they protect employees from the moving machinery parts. Guards should be installed so that they do not impede worker performance. If workers cannot use the equipment smoothly and comfortably, they are more likely to disable or work around the guard. Ideally, guards should be placed so that fueling, lubricating, or other frequent maintenance chores can be done safely without removing them.
Employees require training in the machines they use and maintain. The training should be specific to each piece of equipment and cover the potential hazards of the machinery. The purpose, use, and proper maintenance and settings for each guard should be taught. Workers should learn when and how to remove guards safely and how to lockout/tagout the equipment during maintenance or repair.
Machines and their guards should be inspected periodically to ensure proper functioning. Employees need instructions on how to inspect guards and machines for safety and how to report problems to their supervisor and tag equipment out of service for repair. Guards should never be removed, bypassed, or temporarily disabled.