Machine Guards: Know how to inspect and use them
Machines cause thousands of serious injuries each year. Some danger spots to watch for include:
- The point of operation where the machine works on material
- Power-transmission parts, such as flywheels, pulleys, belts, chains, couplings, spindles, cams, and gears
- Other moving pieces, including blades or other cutting parts
Machines have guards and other devices to help protect operators:
- Some guards are fixed and cannot be removed.
- Interlocked guards are removable, but they have shutoff protections.
- Some can be adjusted or are self-adjusting, based on the material being handled.
- Some machines automatically shut off if an operator’s body part comes into the guarded area.
- Restraint and pull-back devices do not allow the worker’s hands access.
- Two-hand control devices require the operator to use both hands.
- Sometimes the entire machine is in a locked area away from the operator.
In general, machine guards must:
- Prevent operator contact with danger spots.
- Not be easily removed.
- Protect against things falling into the guarded area. This is because a small object or tool could cause a jam or malfunction.
- Allow for safe lubrication of the machine without having to remove them.
- Not interfere with efficient machine operation.
Follow good practices to stay safe.
- Feed material into the machine with push sticks, rather than your hands.
- Find a comfortable working position in order to minimize fatigue.
- Do not rush.
- Follow lockout and tagout procedures.
- Check machines after repair or maintenance to make sure that all guards are back in their proper places.
Machinery can cause injuries, amputations, or even death, but guards can help protect you if you follow safety rules.
Safe and Sound Week: Recognizing the nationwide event
We are proud to participate in this nationwide event held each August. Safe and Sound Week offers information and ideas on how to keep America’s workers safe.
You can take part in many ways, including:
- Participating in the safety program design and in safety committees.
- Reporting incidents (including near misses) so they can be investigated.
- Analyzing hazards associated with routine and nonroutine jobs, tasks, and processes.
- Defining and documenting safe work practices.
- Conducting site inspections and incident investigations.
- Training current coworkers and newly hired employees.
- Evaluating program performance and identifying ways to improve.