Toolbox Talk - Machine Guarding

Toolbox Talk - Machine Guarding

Disclaimer: This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. However, it is to be used for reference purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic presented.

Cleaning jammed equipment, reaching for a wrench, or retrieving a dropped glove are common tasks. Yet, each of these acts can lead to a serious injury. Many injuries occur during equipment maintenance. Sometimes workers try to reach past the guards while trying to service equipment or get caught in power transmissions such as belts, pulleys, running rolls, chains or sprockets. Other injuries occur when equipment is unguarded or when machinery starts unexpectedly.

If some basic precautions are taken, protecting workers from these injuries can be simple and inexpensive. Inexpensive physical controls, such as machine guards, can prevent many injuries. The important thing is that the guards remain in place. Bright, contrasting colors painted on machine guards and points of operation give workers a visual warning and can make it easy to spot missing guards. Good lighting also helps spot dangerous conditions or unguarded machinery.

Before servicing equipment or removing a guard, get proper training on the steps necessary to eliminate the hazards. The law requires equipment to be turned off and locked out during any maintenance to prevent someone from turning it on unexpectedly. You should recognize and understand the following when working around machinery:

  • The location of machine guards and points of operation
  • The purpose of color-coded machinery alerting workers to hazards and to help pinpoint missing guards
  • The danger of pinch points and importance of guards on in-running rolls, belts, pulleys, chains and sprockets
  • Know and follow established lockout/tagout procedures
  • Know when machines have been shut down for maintenance
  • Assure that machines remain off while they are shut down for maintenance
  • Know and observe electrical safety work practices developed by your company
  • Gravity, air pressure, hydraulic failure, residual steam and other factors could cause movement regardless of equipment being properly locked out. This kind of hazard can be prevented by blocking or bracing in addition to locking out.

Never put your head, hands or body into an area that would be a danger zone during a normal equipment cycle. Stay alert when working around machinery or moving equipment and follow established company safety practices.

After-market belt guards are available for any application. Check out some custom options for your equipment.

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Posted on Sunday, January 01, 2012 (Archive on Tuesday, February 04, 2014)
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