The importance of machine guarding is a matter of life and limb.
Improperly guarded machinery and powered motorized industrial equipment that hasn’t been effectively locked out exposes workers to any number of lethal hazards that can result in serious injuries, such as amputations of limbs, or even death.
Machine guards are those safety features connected to industrial equipment that shields or provides a barrier cover for a machine’s hazardous areas to prevent harmful contact between dangerous moving components and body parts. Machine guards might also barricade hazards such as chips or sparks created from the operation of industrial equipment. These devices protect people from injuries as they are working near or are operating equipment.
Machine guarding is included among the annual list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently issued citations. When OSHA determines that a hazard is pervasive, it may create a special enforcement program, called a National Emphasis Program (NEP), designed to target that hazard.
OSHA has kept an active NEP targeting amputation hazards for more than a decade. Because the greatest single cause of amputations is inadequately guarded machinery, the NEP encourages OSHA inspectors to identify machine guarding deficiencies and cite them under the machine guarding standards found in 29 CFR 1910 Subparts O and R.
A well-designed safeguard should:
- Prevent contact with the hazardous area of the machine during operation,
- Avoid creating additional hazards,
- Be secure, tamper resistant, and durable,
- Avoid interfering with normal machine operations,
- Allow safe lubrication and maintenance, and,
- Be safe for the operator to use.
Each year, OSHA tallies up the citations it has issued and publishes a list of the 10 most-cited standards. There are about a half-dozen standards that almost always make that list. Machine guarding is one.
Check out the entire list of OSHA’s Most Common Citations and How You Can Avoid Them in a report published by Intelex Technologies. It is available as a free download.