Machine guards are crucial safety devices required by OSHA for the protection of workers. Operating machinery poses many risks for operators arising from hot/fast-moving parts, rotating parts, ingoing nip points, blades, fans, etc. In the absence of proper safety processes and guards, the workers may get burnt, their clothes may get entangled, or their body parts injured. Machine guarding significantly reduces the risk of such hazards and contributes towards achieving a safer work environment.
According to OSHA 1910.212(a)(3), the devices used to guard the machine’s point of operation should comply with any appropriate standards as applicable. The guards should be designed and constructed to prevent any part of the operator’s body in the danger zone. The standard further explains that hand tools, used for placing and removing materials into and from the point of operations, should be designed to allow easy handling of the material. This also should not require the operator to place their hand in the danger zone.
The seven-foot rule for machine guarding requires hazardous operations to be enclosed or guarded if they are located seven feet or less from the floor or working platform. This rule is covered in OSHA 1910.219 about mechanical power transmission apparatus and includes flywheels, shafting, pulleys, horizontal belts, vertical and inclined belts, gears, and more.
To be effective and not turn into a hazard themselves, machine safeguards must meet the following requirements:
OSHA emphasizes the use of machine safeguarding awareness devices such as signs, barriers, and signals to warn individuals of any impending, approaching, or present hazards. The design, application and use of machine guarding signs for accident prevention must be in accordance with the specifications set forth by OSHA standard 1910.145.