Workplace Machine Safety Guarding Safety Tips

"OSHA Safety Machine Guarding" 

Periodic introduction of "Safety Tips" to increase the awareness of workplace safety. The purpose of these tips are to help keep you safe when operating manufacturing equipment.

What do I love about Safety?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

There are many things I enjoy working in the safety marked life seeing how products are made and the creativity of desiring machine guard. The thing I love the most is protecting people. They are our most valuable asset. These days a lot of companies focus on high production rates any way possible, which can and does create an unsafe work environment. Employees are just “button-pushers” today only responsible for a tsk of producing a product. Employees don’t care or are afraid of consequences of speaking about unsafe conditions. Empowering the people to help improve plant safety can make for a better work environment, higher retention, lower recordable accidents, high morale, lower workers compensation, all resulting in a more profitable company. 

OSHA regulations?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

OSHA regulations require the use of ANSI compliant head protection for injury to the head from falling objects. Hard hats can be used to protect against lacerations, can last up to 5 years, and are NOT permitted to add stickers as they can hide any defects or cracks. Bump caps are not approved for areas where objects may fall.

OSHA standards for machine guarding?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

1910.212 machinery and machine guarding is the general OSHA regulation for machine guarding. It states one or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from nip points, wrap points, pinch points, thrown objects, to name a few. These guards can be integrated as hard guarding, e-safety, or a hybrid of both.  

Worker’s compensation protection?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance employers provide as a wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured as a direct result of their job. This is in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the part of negligence. Accidents are a relevant factor in mfg, but both employees and employers hope to always avoid this step. Through proper machine guarding, injuries leading to this step can be highly prevented. Proper guarding also can lower your workers comp insurance rates due to a lower risk environment.

Lockout / Tagout (LOTO) Safety?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Lockout/Tag out (LOTO) A safety procedure which is used in mfg to ensure that dangerous machinery is properly shut off and not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or service working. If multiple people are working on the equipment each person has a unique key. This will prevent the machine from being reenergized before all personnel are of harm’s way.

Is your time a valuable resource?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Let’s face it, time is a valuable resource these days. We are a consumed with reaching to non-stop emergencies on a daily basis. It is difficult to be proactive with projects that can be just as important with these proactive tasks. There is another option. Hiring an experienced company to assist with these projects can save you time, reduces stress levels, improve plant safety, and save you money in the long run. With just a quick overview of the project needs, the project can be designed, fabricated, built, and installed in a fraction of the time. PowerSafe Automation has the experience level and resources to help you with your projects.

Poly vs Acrylic for Machine Guarding?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"

Using the right plastic panel in a mfg environment can be a critical component in your design. Solid panels are typically used in areas to keep flying debris contained within the machine. Polycarbonate also called Lexan is an impact resistance panel that should be used in these applications whereas Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, shatters on impact which is not suitable for this environment. Polycarbonate is more costly then acrylic, but provides a greater level of safety which you can’t put a price on. 

Machine Decibel (db) Levels?

"Machine Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding" 

Sound can be an oversight when evaluating plant safety. Eardrums are very sensitive to continued noise of 85 db or greater, causing hearing damage and/or less over a period of time. Two common methods for hearing protection are to wear ear plugs or build sound enclosures around mfg equipment. There are advantages to both… ear plugs are inexpensive, but can be uncomfortable to wear. Sound enclosures are more costly, but offer protection across multiple people and areas by lowering the DB rating with the factory. 


OSHA 29 CFR 1910.135?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.135 requires the use of ANSI compliant head protection when there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects.

  • Hard hats are required by OSHA for ANSI compliant head protection.
  • Bump caps are not approved for areas where objects may fall.
  • They are used to protects against lacerations
  • Hard hats can last up to 5 years- take care of and keep in good shape
  • It is not permitted to add stickers as it can hide any defects or credits in the hats.

Ergonomics relating to machine access?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

ANSI provides standards for machine ergonomics standards. These standards are important in preventing injury from hazards. Machine ergonomics takes into account placement of actuators, size of maintenance access, body entry in machine and/or cell, interaction with displays and controls. These standards need to be accounted for when designing machine guards in an effort to not disturb the ergo relationship between workers and machines. 

Safety Assessments?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

A risk assessment is a professional service facilitated by safety companies trained and certified in OSHA and ANSI standards. The assessments performed will evaluate the performance levels of your machinery. They will also offer recommendations of improvements needed in areas where the PL is not up to standard. Once this has been completed, it becomes your responsibility to follow through with the safety improvements to your machines and for your employees. If you are overwhelmed by the findings or don’t have time for that next step, contact a safety guarding company to assist from design through installation.

E-Stop vs Lockout Safety Functions?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Some people believe that e-stop devices can be used for LOTO. Locking out a machine requires the hazardous energy to be completely isolated or blocked. A control system like an e-stop may be able to meet parts of isolation, but not all. Both are important, but serve their own purpose. Be sure not to confuse one for the other when servicing a machine. 

Are all safety accidents preventable?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

All accidents are preventable is a myth. This day and age, there are a number of factors that contribute to unpreventable accidents. Safeguarding is certainly the #1 focus in keeping your employees safe, followed by proper training. At the end of the day, somethings can’t be safeguarding against 

What is commonly used in safety guarding applications?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Welded wire mesh panels are commonly used in safety guarding applications. These panels are made from carbon steel and coated with a PVC rubber for protection and aesthetics. The thickness of the wire is 12ga which provides great rigidity in these applications. Common openings in the mesh are 1x1 and 2x2. The desired size is determined by the distance needed between the guard and hazard stated in the OSHA/ANSI guidelines. Retaining the panels to the Hard Guard material varies based and the size of the panels and the operations being performed inside the guard.

Types of safety hazards?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding" 

  • Pinch point is a point between moving and stationary parts of a machine where an individual’s body part may become caught, leading to injury.
    • Example is feeder rolls
  • Shear Point / Nip point is when 2 edges close enough to cut what is between them
    • Example is a shear press or corrugator
  • Wrap point is any exposed rotating component on a machine where clothing, hair, or loose items can become entangled.
  • Crush point is when 2 objects move towards each other or one object moves towards a stationary object.
    • Example is a door to frame or stamping press
  • Pull-in point combine wrap point or pinch point that’s designated to feed material in between running rolls
  • Thrown object is found on any machine or robot that operates at high speed has the potential of throwing an object with enough force to inflict serious injury.
    • Example is shredder, grinder, or hammer mills

Category rating?

"Safety Guarding / OSHA Machine Guarding"  

Category rating is a level of redundancy checking on your equipment.  This defines the functionality of the types of e-safety.

  • Category 1 relates to a circuit in which the safety function can be lost through a single fault.  Normally met by a simple e-stop interrupting power to a motor
  • Category 2 further includes a requirement for a safety function check
  • Category 3 further includes circuits in which the safety function cannot be compromised by a single fault
  • Category 4 further requires that any single fault must be detected before the next demand on the safety function or that an accumulation of faults cannot cause loss of the safety function
  • If you are unsure of which category your equipment needs, contact an expert for evaluation
  • Categories is being phased out and being replaced with performance levels of A, B, C, D, E being the highest.

5 misconceptions of safety?

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  • Neutral isn’t energized.  The neutral is the return path for the electrical circuit.  Just because the NEC defines it as the “grounded conductor” does not mean it’s not energized.
  • Overhead service drop conductors are insulated.  Conductors entering the building have a black covering to protect against weathering and external damage, not insulate the voltage.  High voltage conductors have a region of ionized gas around them where the electrons from the air molecules have been knocked out of their orbit and are spinning around inside the gas.  Breaking the plane of the gas is equivalent to direct contact with the conductor. Recommended to stay minimum of 10 feet from overhead service drops depending on the size.
  • Untested, unproven circuit breaker will trip every time.  If circuit breakers are left in service and not operated, their changes of operating correctly get less and less each year.  After 3 to 5 years = 30% of circuit breaker malfunction; 7 to 10 years = 50%; and 17 to 20 years = 90%; Don’t assume a piece of equipment is going to operate properly unless it’s been regularly inspected, maintained, & tested.
  • Low voltage will only give you a tingle, nothing more.  Typically when you are shocked, electrical current passes from our hands to our feet.  The current passes thru socks, shoes, and whatever the flooring covering may be before it goes to ground.  These layers reduce current flow thru a person’s body.  The average man has about 1000 ohms of resistance.  For 120v contact, ohms law shows 120mA of current flow.  It only takes 75mA of current for a duration of 5 seconds to cause a person’s heart to fibrillate.
    • Rubber insulated gloves and leather protectors keep workers safe from shock and protect the hands in case of an arc flash
    • If you are not trained in proper electrical safety, let the professionals help you