Safety Machine Guarding


The purpose of machine guarding is to protect the machine operator and other employees in the work area from hazards created by ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips & sparks. Some examples this are barrier guards, light curtains, two- hand operating devices etc.

Crushed hands and arms, severed fingers and limbs, lacerations and abrasions – the list of possible machinery-related injuries is long and horrifying. Many hazards are created by moving machine parts. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from preventable injuries.

Safe Use of Machinery – Introduction aims to assist employers and employees to understand the hazards associated with the use of machinery in the workplace. It gives guidance on how to safely use machinery to comply with the duties and obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations.

Employers can use this guide to:

  • identify machinery hazards in the workplace
  • Eliminate or reduce the likelihood of those hazards causing harm.

Too many serious harm accidents and fatalities occur because basic machine guarding is not in place. Even though the principles of machine guarding are well known, people are still seriously injured and killed because machines are poorly guarded or not guarded at all.

This publication also provides advice for anyone else interested in machinery safety, including designers, manufacturers, suppliers, employees, and Health and Safety Representatives.

Machine guarding is a very important safety control. Guarding can protect against:

  • Debris, particulates and other projectiles from flying out of the machine
  • Pinch-points caused by moving components
  • People from entering energized work areas
  • Machines or components within machines from inadvertently shifting or moving during operations
  • Sparks, electrical arcs and internal fires from expanding beyond a controlled
  • area within the machine
  • Whipping from broken belts and other materials under high tension or stress
  • Using ventilation systems and hoods to reduce or prevent inhalation of hazardous fumes
  • Using retaining walls, enclosures and spill containment devices to prevent chemicals, objects and other materials from reaching undesirable areas

Guidelines for ensuring machine guarding are effective:

  • Ensure the guarding is properly fastened or anchored and not loose.
  • Verify the guarding is strong enough to withstand the expected forces.
  • If the guarding is perforated (for example a fence) then the holes in the guarding should be smaller than the smallest object that could fly from the machine.
  • Always inspect and verify the guarding is adequate before operating the machine.

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