Safety Guarding 101

The 6 Most Common Machine Guards


Jason Kerkhof

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March 21, 2023

Machine guards are an essential part of your staff’s safety, and equipment's longevity. They protect employees from injuries by preventing them from coming in contact with dangerous moving parts, such as gears and sprockets. Machine guards can also keep contaminants out of the machine and reduce damage caused by debris thrown off by the operation of the machine.

Lets take a look at the 6 most common guards that we sell as the leading North American guarding company.

V-Belt Guards

A V-belt guard is a machine guard that protects against contact with a v-belt. The most common type of v-belt guard is made of metal and mounted directly to the machine frame. It clamps around the pulley, preventing workers from accidentally contacting the belt while it's in motion.

When looking at v-belt guards, it is important to consider your maintenance requirements and the ease of changing out belts. If the entire front panel is one piece bolted on, with no handles, that makes for a big project to remove. If it was broken into, multiple panels with wedge clamps, it makes for an easy job to swap the belt when needed.

Barrier Guards

A modular barrier guard is a machine guard that protects the operator from injury by preventing access to danger areas. Barrier guards are used for a wide range of applications, from conveyors, tools, restricted areas, and other miscellaneous hazards.

You will want your barrier guards to be solid and completely cover the hazard they are protecting, also make sure they fit well with the specific needs. This might include easily removing guards for frequent maintenance, or if there needs to be large doors/gates for equipment or personnel to pass through.

Coupling Guards

Coupling guards are designed to protect the operator from the dangers of a rotating shaft. Coupling guards are used on equipment that has a rotating shaft, such as pumps, compressors and other machinery. They're usually made of steel and have a round shape (which makes them easy to mount) but can also be rectangular or square in shape depending on the application.

When picking a coupling guard you want to make sure that there is an easy inspection door so you can visually inspect the rotating shaft inside, and have easy access for regular maintenance or greasing.

Flange Bearing Guards

Flange bearing guards are used to prevent employees from coming into contact with the rotating bearings. The guard is installed at the end of a shaft and is designed to prevent an employee's clothing from getting caught in machinery.

Flange bearings are common in many workplaces, and something that is often overlooked when it comes to guarding.

Return Idler Guards

A return idler guard is one of the most common types of machine guards we sell at Belt Conveyor Guarding.

Return idler guards are designed to protect workers from being drawn into return idlers and eliminate access to pinch-points. Furthermore, they easily mount onto existing return idler bracket. Side panels hinge open for guard maintenance. There are also tapered side slots that reduce material build-up.

If you use a return idler guard properly, it will help ensure that no one gets injured when working around conveyors and return idlers.

Return Idler Baskets

The return idler basket is similar to the return idler guard, but the basket is solely used to protect workers and equipment against falling return idlers. Return idler baskets are meant to be used in places that are out of reach of workers, as it does not protect against pinch-points.

These baskets can be attached by chain (the most popular option), as well as a rigid mounted option.


It's important to remember that machine guards are an essential part of any workplace, and they help make your employees safer by preventing injuries. If you need help choosing the right machine guard for your facility or would like more information about our products, contact us today!