heavy-duty equipment

7 Essential Principles of Machine Guarding

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Industrial facilities rely on various types of heavy-duty machinery. While these machines are essential to a company’s success, one wrong slip could send a worker to the emergency room.

7 Essential Principles of Machine Guarding

Machine guarding shields the body from hazardous areas and is a must in any mechanical environment.

Machines revolutionized modern industries. They streamline processes, allowing companies to work faster and smarter. However, these devices may also pose a threat to workers when stored or used in an unsafe manner.

Companies must take adequate measures to avoid accidental contact, prevent injuries, and limit liabilities. When choosing machine guarding solutions, make sure they adhere to these principles:

1. Point of Operation

The point of operation refers to the location where the machine processes materials. If the point of operation exposes an employee to a health or safety risk, a machine guard is required.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHA), guards must affix to the machine directly whenever possible.

2. Power Off

Every piece of machinery requires a power source to operate, whether it’s electric, atomic, hydraulic, or pneumatic. As long as there is an electrical current or flow of power, the machine is still in use.

Machine guards must stop the current entirely to achieve the power-off stage.

3. Power Locking Mechanism

After powering off a device, workers should also lock it in the “off” position. Achieving this locked state requires a special padlock. Every person working on the machine should be able to access and control this locking mechanism easily.

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4. Safety Guarding

It’s crucial to prevent workers from making contact with any moving parts. Failing to do so may result in injury. Installing safety guarding will help reduce this risk.

For instance, placing a barrier on the point of operation may reduce the chance of moving parts coming into contact with a person’s limbs or clothing.

Safety guarding protects three areas, including the prime mover, transmission part form, and the operating components.

5. Fencing and Enclosures

A fixed enclosure or locking fence prevents access to the machine’s moving parts. This type of guarding should only allow authorized personnel access to these areas of the device.

It’s possible to mount fencing and enclosures directly on or around the machine. These fixtures must be installed at least 42 inches away from the dangerous parts.

6. Position and Location Safety

Guarding should make a hazard physically inaccessible under normal conditions. According to the Factories Act, “safe by position” means making it impossible for workers to touch any exposed or hazardous parts.

Meeting this requirement involves separating workers and machines by a set distance, usually 6-8 feet.

7. Construction Safety

Factories should consider safety well before placing a machine into use. During the building process, all parts of the device should be constructed to reduce the risk of bodily harm.

Built-in safety design standards should house any dangerous components while allowing the machine to operate freely.

Guarding Protects Workers From Hazardous Conditions

The principles of guarding may seem picky and precise, but they exist to keep workers safe from harm’s way. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2.8 million non-fatal occupational injuries.

Following the machine guarding rules set in place by OSHA may help reduce this number in the future.

Conclusion

As a factory owner, it’s critical to seek out machine guarding tools and solutions to protect every employee. These safety measures will also reduce downtime and prevent liability. Before operating heavy machinery, make sure it has all the required safety guards in place.

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