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Machine Guards


Dr. Isabel Perry, “The Safety Doctor”

362 words

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that a company protect machine operators and anyone who might be in the vicinity of hazards associated with the operation of those machines.  Potential hazards exist at points of operation, in-going nip points, and wherever there are rotating parts, flying chips or sparks.


Training is a necessary part of any good Health and Safety Plan. Teaching people to follow safety procedures and to look for potential problems will create a safe working environment for everyone. Training should include:


¨      Description and identification of specific hazards related to machines

¨      Description of safeguards and how they function

¨      How to use the safeguards

¨      When it is appropriate to remove safeguards, and how to remove them safely

¨      What to do when a safeguard is missing


Machine safeguards should be installed and maintained to prevent contact, and be secure enough that they cannot be easily removed or tampered with. Safeguards should not only protect machine operators, but keep objects from falling into moving parts.  Take care that the safeguard does not impede the worker from doing his job, or create a new hazard.  It should be possible to lubricate or maintain the machine without removing the safeguard.


Types of Safeguards

Signs and other aids that warn of a possible danger area

Barriers which prevent direct contact with the machine

Feeding and ejection processes that eliminate the handling of machine parts in the hazard zone.

Mechanical and electronic devices which either restrain or restrict contact. Examples of these are two-hand controls, gates, tripping devices, and sensors


Types of Potentially Hazardous Operations

¨      Bending – tube benders, press brakes, or plate rolls

¨      Punching – notchers and punch presses

¨      Shearing – hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical shears

¨      Cutters – bandsaws, drills and lathes and milling machines


Types of Potentially Hazardous Moving Points

¨      Rotating – couplings, spindles, shaft ends, in-running nip points

¨      Reciprocating – up and down or back and forth

¨      Transverse – any movement that is in a straight continuous line


Workplace accidents result in lost productivity, loss of employee morale, and sometimes in lawsuits.  Avoid accidents by installing and maintaining appropriate safeguards, and by creating and enforcing safety procedures.


Dr. Isabel Perry is an internationally-known safety expert, motivational speaker, author, and safety educator.  Based in Orlando, Florida, she can be reached at 407-291-1209 or via e-mail at [email protected]