Machine Guarding

Machine guarding is one of OSHA’s top 10 most-cited safety violations. Workers should respect these devices that protect them from moving parts.

In this podcast we cover the types of machine guards, including barrier guards, light curtains, and two-handed tripping devices.

It can be a loose clothing hazard if machine guarding is needed or missing. Increase hand safety: workers should point it out to management.


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Machine_Guarding-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Machine guarding. Guards for a machine? No, it’s not a piece of equipment with a military escort. It’s the protection between moving parts and your fingers.

Hello there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Machine guards exist for a reason: to protect workers pinkies from dangerous gears, pulleys, saws and other moving parts. NOT properly machine guarding is one of OSHA‘s top 10 most-cited safety violations.

Yes, top 10. Therefore, workers need to be aware of the hazards in case their company has slacked off and is not compliant.

WHICH MACHINES? If a piece of equipment can pinch, crush, burn or amputate, it needs to be safeguarded. Employers need to install machine guards on equipment that’s cutting, punching, shearing, bending… you get the idea. Machine guards are common on hydraulic presses, woodworking machinery, saws, plastics machinery and some power tools.

Machine guards come in different types:

Machine_Guarding-Creative_Safety_Supply-200X200BARRIER GUARDS. They surround the moving pieces of machinery and they prevent people from reaching inside.

THE LIGHT CURTAIN. It’s a presence-sensing device, a fancy name for the electric eye. It senses when someone’s too close to the machine and stops it.

TWO-HANDED TRIPPING DEVICES. This is a fail-safe system with two buttons that have to be pressed simultaneously to start a machine. The buttons are fairly far apart. That prevents accidental machine engagement and keeps workers from having an arm anywhere near the moving parts.

Here’s some advice for workers. Don’t try to get around machine guards, don’t take shortcuts. If you see unguarded machine hazards, be careful. And is it something you can discuss with your supervisor? You could save yourself or a coworker from a serious injury because of an OSHA violation. Follow instructions on all safety signs and labels posted on machines.

That’s it for this episode on Machine Guarding. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at


OSHA machine guarding info page. OSHA machine guarding eTool.

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