Machine Safety

Machine safety is important to preventing injuries and accidents.

Take precautions to prevent amputations

A machine may cut, shear, bend, punch, and have dangerous rotating parts and in-running nip points. Against all those hazards and all that power, what chance do your fingers, hands, arms, and legs have when you operate machinery?

The best chance you have to go home every day with all your fingers and toes are machine guards, safety devices, and safe work practices, which keep all your body parts safely out of reach of the danger.

Here are examples of workers who failed to take machine hazards seriously:

  • An employee working with drilling equipment caught himself in the super-strong and super-sharp machinery. This resulted in cutting his leg off below the knee.
  • Another worker lost his right middle finger while cleaning near a rotating gear of a printing press. The rotating press caught his finger and cut off two-thirds of it. 
  • A food service employee decided to clean a meat slicer while the machine was on. He had lifted the guard to expose the blade. As he was cleaning the front of the slicer, his foot slipped on a piece of plastic wrap that was on the floor. His body fell forward into the slicer and it cut off the tip of his right index finger.
  • A worker at a food processing plant was feeding crab through a ringer on the production line when he caught his finger in the machine. He suffered a major cut to his finger, but he was glad that he didn’t cut off his finger.
  • A warehouse employee was watching boxes mount an elevator conveyor when he noticed glue build-up on the conveyor rollers. He tried to scrape the glue off the rollers while the machine was still running. His sleeve caught, and his arm pulled into the rollers. He was relieved to escape with only a badly broken arm.

Don’t forget that amputations aren’t the only injuries associated with machinery. You could be badly burned or electrocuted, too. So keep your guard up, and stay safe. Don’t take risks with machinery.

OSHA’s Machine Guarding Rules

The list of possible machinery-related injuries is long and bloody. In fact, every year workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer around 18,000 injuries, which include severed fingers and other limbs, crushed hands and arms, nasty cuts, and other injuries too horrible to mention.

It’s not surprising that OSHA has a nine-part standard on machinery and machine guarding (29 CFR 1910.211-219). The standard’s purpose is to protect machine operators and other employees in the work area from machine hazards by requiring, among other things, the use of effective machine guards and safety devices.

According to the regulations, machine safeguards have to meet six basic requirements. They must:

  1. Prevent contact of hands, arms, or any other part of a worker’s body with dangerous moving parts on the machine.
  2. Be secured to the machine so that they can’t be easily removed or tampered with.
  3. Be protected from falling objects. For example, a small tool dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure the operator or someone else.
  4. Create no new hazards, such as shear points, jagged edges, or unfinished surfaces that could cause lacerations.
  5. Let workers perform the work comfortably and efficiently, without interference.
  6. Allow safe lubrication without removing the guard, if possible.

Don’t wait for an accident!

Safety is about awareness and knowledge. Knowledge gives you the power to prevent accidents. One of the best ways to keep informed about ever-changing work conditions is to perform daily safety inspections. Correct hazards before accidents happen. Inspect your workstation, work area, PPE, tools, equipment, and materials before each job.