The ins and outs of machine guarding

J.J. Keller & Associates
Tags: workplace safety

OSHA requires that machine hazardsmust be controlled or eliminated. Dangerous moving parts in three basic areas require safeguarding:

  • The point of operation:This is the point where work is performed on the material, such as cutting, shaping, boring, or forming of stock.
  • Power transmission apparatus:This includes all components of the system which transmit energy to the part of the machine performing the work, such as flywheels, pulleys, belts, and gears.
  • Other moving parts:This includes all parts of the machine that move while the machine is working - including reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts, as well as feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.

In order to safeguard workers from hazards, the safeguards must meet these minimum general requirements:

  • Prevent contact:The safeguard must prevent hands, arms, and any other part of a worker's body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of workers placing parts of their bodies near hazardous moving parts.
  • Secure:Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.
  • Protect from falling objects:The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts. A small tool dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure someone.
  • Create no new hazards:A safeguard should not create a shear point, jagged edge, or unfinished surface which can cause a laceration. For example, the edges of guards should be rolled or bolted to eliminate sharp edges.
  • Create no interference:Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding can actually enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker's apprehensions about injury.
  • Allow safe lubrication:If possible, workers should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards. Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for a worker to enter the hazardous area.

How KOL can help
The Machine Guarding topic in the KellerOnline Topic Index provides information which includes ez Explanations, the Machine Guarding standard, OSHA Letters of Interpretation on the subject, and other reference documents.

If you need to create a written plan or want to audit your machine guarding program, there are sample written plans and audit checklists for you to use or modify to fit your needs.

Finally, make sure your workforce is trained on the topic of Machine Guarding. KellerOnline offers several 5-minute training programs addressing a variety of machine guarding issues, fully-developed classroom-based training programs, and online training programs – all in both English and Spanish.

For more information on J.J. Keller & Associates, visit

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