Safety Guarding 101

Importance of Ergonomic Guarding


Raquel Stroher

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March 18, 2021

Ergonomic Guarding Handles
Ergonomic Guarding Handles

Why Ergonomic Safety Guarding is So Important?

Machine Safety Guarding tends to be a reactive measure rather than a proactive one. This reactive pattern to safeguarding equipment has led to countless visits by our technicians. Even though they may have found guards to be adequate in protecting the workers, they fell short in providing the functionality necessary to readily perform maintenance and clean-up. If a guarding system is difficult to remove or restrict access, often routine maintenance or clean-up activities get delayed or ignored increasing the chance of unexpected and costly breakdowns.

Thus, when designing safety guarding solutions, it is critical to consider the guard as an extension of the equipment/machinery. It may cost more upfront, but ergonomically-friendly guards will provide the following benefits in the long run:

  • Prevent injuries
  • Reduce the chance of unexpected breakdowns
  • Increase productivity
  • Provide a great Return on Investment

Let's review each of those points in more details.

Prevent Ergonomic-Related Injuries

A lot of workers nowadays are struggling with work-related musculoskeletal disorders or WMSDs. It sounds awful, isn't it? Before we get to the reasons of why it is happening to employees and how to prevent it, let's figure out what WMSDs are. Well, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, "work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a group of painful disorders of muscles, tendons and nerves." Some examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, thoracic outlet syndrome and tension neck syndrome.

Now, it is time to discover the main causes of WMSDs. Well, they are caused by:

  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Cumulative trauma disorders
  • Overuse syndrome
  • Regional musculoskeletal disorders
  • Soft tissue disorders

Wondering how to prevent these injuries from happening? Every company should have an ergonomic plan supported by a well-designed workplace. When it comes to safety guarding, solutions could include installation of rubber-coated handles, access doors, lighter guards (no more than 50 LB) as well as fasteners with no loose hardware.

Reduce the Chance of Unexpected Breakdowns and Increase Productivity

When an unexpected equipment breakdown occurs, one of the first things to happen after the machine is locked out is the need to remove safety guards to access the equipment. And one of the last things after repair works are completed is the need to put those same guards back in place before the machinery can be powered up. Sounds logical and makes a lot of sense? Yes, it does. However, we often hear those guards are not put back in place since they are cumbersome, heavy, require more than 2 people to install. Sometimes it even requires a crane...

Not sure if your safety guarding ergonomically-friendly? Here are some things to consider:

  • How easy and quick are your guards to remove and put back in place?
  • How much time does this add to your unexpected downtime?
  • Does it require additional manpower?
  • What does this extra time cost you in lost production?
  • Was additional equipment, such as forklifts or overhead lifts required?

In the video below, we have summarized the best practices on ergonomic and user-friendly guarding.

Provide a Great Return on Investment

Remember that having safety guarding that is user-friendly, easy to remove and install will reduce your downtime significantly. All the questions mentioned above should be considered when making a decision on safety guarding purchase. The return on investment will surprise you! In order to prove this point, our team has developed a Safety Guarding Ergonomics and ROI Calculator. BCG will provide a copy of our ROI calculator to everyone for free. All you need to do is send an email to