Machine Guard Basics

Machine guards are tangible materials used to keep employees from having direct contact with a machine’s moving parts.

  • Some guards help protect you from kickbacks, flying chips and splashing liquids.

Guards may be in the form of sheet, woven or expanded mesh steel.

  • Some machine guards are made of wood.
    1. Usually the case in chemical or wood manufacturing industries, or operations that involve chemicals that might corrode metal.

Some equipment or machines that require the use of guards:

  • Chains, gears, pulleys, cranks, sprockets, and connecting rods
  • Rope, belt and chain drives
  • Projecting shaft ends
  • Transmission shafts
  • Flywheels
  • Belt tighteners
  • Portable saws
  • Portable belt sanders
  • Portable grinders
  • Pneumatic tools
  • Powder actuated tools
  • Openings for frequent oiling

Common Types of Machine Guards

Fixed guards

  • Protect you from hazardous parts of machines at ALL times
  • May be adjusted only by authorized personnel.

Interlocking guards

  • Used only if using a fixed guard is not practical or feasible
  • Do not allow machines to operate until hazardous parts are guarded

Sometimes, though, using either fixed guards or interlocking guards is not practical.

  • In such cases, devices like sweeps, pullbacks, and electronic devices must be used.
Did You Know?
Machine Guarding is one of the top 10 most cited OSHA violations each year OSHA reports that workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths annually (2) Stationary and portable machinery is the primary cause of the amputations. (3) Approximately one-half of all amputations occur in the manufacturing sector, while the remaining amputations are distributed among industry divisions including construction, wholesale trade, retail trade, services, etc. (3)
Action Items
  • Know the OSHA machine guarding standard to help you in your compliance
  • Constantly maintain machine guards so they operate at their proper capacity
  • Know which machine guard is most effective for every machine and/or power tool

Machine Guard General Safety Measures

Guards must always be secured to the machine.

  • Guards must never be positioned or fastened to moving parts in a way that creates a pinch point.
  • Fasteners used to secure guards to a machine must require the use of tools for their removal.
  • You also need to bleed or release trapped air, gas, and chemicals; uncoil springs and block or lower raised loads and elevated machine parts.

All guards must be rigidly braced every 3 ft. or less to a fixed part of a structure or machine.

  • Guardrails must be at least 42 in. high with a clearance of at least 15 in., but not more than 20 in. from the machine.
  • Toeboards must be at least 4 in. in height
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