Guarding Against Injury
Amputations are all too common injuries for employees who work on or around machines. Because of
these and other sometimes gruesome machine dangers, OSHA has extensive regulations for machine
guarding in 29 CFR 1910 Subpart O Machinery and Machine Guarding, 1910.211 through 219.
The basic rule states that “one or more methods of machine guarding” must be provided to protect
the operator and nearby workers from such hazards created by the point of operation, nip points,
rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks.
OSHA requires operators and maintenance personnel to receive training for certain types of machines,
including woodworking machines and power presses. Operators of machines with presence sensing device
initiation (PSDI) must be trained at least annually in how to use the machine in PSDI mode. This
training should include:
- Areas of the machine most likely to cause injury
- Description, purpose, and functions of machine guards
- Importance of ensuring that machine guards are in place and working properly
- Hazards of using machines
Many types of machinery expose workers to risk of serious injury, including:
- Saws, presses, conveyors, and bending, rolling, or shaping machines
- Powered and nonpowered hand tools, forklifts, doors, and trash compactors
The danger areas on machinery include:
- The point of operation where the cutting, punching, shearing, or bending of material takes place
- The power transmission apparatus, which can grab and injure body parts
- The operating controls and moving parts
OSHA rules specify which guards to use with different machines. Train employees to recognize guards
and report when they are not working properly.
- Fixed guards enclose danger areas and cannot be removed easily.
- Interlocked safeguards automatically shut off and stop the machine or apparatus if they are removed.
- Some guards adjust to the size of the material being work on.
- Photoelectric presence-sensing devices (often called light curtains) shut down the machine if a
- worker’s hand or other body part enters the danger area.
- Restraint and pull-back devices are attached to the operator’s hand, wrist, or arm, and make it
- impossible to reach into a danger area.
- Two-hand control devices make it necessary for both of a worker’s hands to be used to operate the machine.
- Pressure-sensitive devices are also designed to act as emergency stops if an operator gets too close
- to a danger zone.
Finally, warn employees not to take any of these unsafe actions around machinery:
- Reaching around, under, over, or through guards into hazardous areas
- Removing, deactivating, or bypassing guards
- Reaching into equipment to remove stuck or jammed material
- Failing to follow lockout/tagout procedures
- Not following electrical safety procedures
- Not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment
- Attempting to operate or repair machines without proper training
- Not reading manufacturer’s manuals or following their instructions
- Feeding machine by hand
- Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions to OSHA (blogs.lawyers.com)
- OSHA Signage Regulations for Construction Areas (smartsign.com)