Importance of Machine Guarding

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Jan 16, 2019

Did you know machine guarding was OSHA’s 9th most cited safety violation in 2018 with 1,972 total violations?

Machine guards are necessary safeguards for protecting workers from preventable machinery-related injuries including crushed hands and arms, severed fingers and limbs, and lacerations and abrasions. Machine guarding is used to protect the machine operator as well as other employees from hazards created by the machine. Examples of machine guards include barrier guards, light curtains, and two-handed operating devices.

Machine guarding is defined as guarding or protecting machine parts that are most dangerous. Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When machine guarding is used properly, the likelihood that an accident will occur because of machine or electrical failure, human error, or poor design is decreased.

OSHA standard 1910.211 outlines the requirements for machine guarding.

As defined by OSHA, general requirements for Machine Guarding state:

  • Guards must not create potential hazards and must be attached to the machine where possible.
  • If guards cannot be attached to the machine, they must be attached elsewhere.


Point of Operation Guarding
Point of operating guarding involves guards placed on the area of a machine where work is performed. In addition, special hand tools used for placing and removing material from point of operation areas must allow handling of the material without the operator placing a hand in the machine’s danger area. These tools cannot replace guards required by OSHA’s standard.

The following machines usually require point of operating guarding [29 CFR 1910.212(a)(3)(iv)]

  • Guillotine Cutters
  • Shears
  • Alligator Shears
  • Power Presses
  • Milling Machines
  • Power Saws
  • Jointers
  • Portable Power Tools
  • Forming Rolls and Calenders

Fixed Perimeter Guarding
Primarily used in areas where automated robots or machines operate, fixed perimeter guards are static barriers placed around a work area.


Safety Devices
Often used in conjunction with machine guarding, safety devices including electrical interlocks can be used as another layer of safeguarding on machines.

If machine guarding is not properly implemented, employees are put at serious risk of injury. OSHA’s official website states that machinery workers sustain approximately 18,000 injuries and 800 deaths each year. These injuries occur from machines in a variety of ways, but the most common is lack of proper guarding. By taking the necessary steps to ensure that machine guards are in place for all equipment, you will decrease injuries to your workers.

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