Safety Guarding 101

Machine Guarding in the Mining Industry


Jason Kerkhof

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March 7, 2023

The mining industry can be a dangerous place to work. In fact, according to Workplace Safety North Statistics, the injury rate for miners each year is 5% in North America. Even non-fatal injuries in this field can leave workers with serious long-term health problems that can impact their quality of life and keep them from returning to work. One way to help reduce accidents on the job is through machine guarding—or putting safety measures such as guards or barriers around moving parts on machinery where employees could get injured if they're able to reach into the hazard.

Importance of machine guarding

Machine guarding is a key part of safety in the mining industry. Machine guarding helps to protect workers from injuries, as well as save lives.

The main purpose of machine guarding is to prevent injury by:

  • Preventing access to hazardous areas (such as gears, belts, and rotating parts)
  • Preventing inadvertent contact with equipment that can cause injury or death if not properly guarded

Workplace injuries in mining jobs are on the rise.

Workplace injuries are a serious problem in the mining industry. In fact, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), there were more than 6,000 workplace injuries reported in 2015--the highest number since 2006. In juries and deaths were on the rise according to their latest article.

In response to this trend and other safety concerns, MSHA has taken strong measures against unsafe practices by enforcing new regulations that have been in place for years but have gone largely unenforced until recently. The result? A record number of violations were cited last year alone: over 75,000!

How does machine guarding work?

Machine guarding is a safety measure that prevents injuries. It's actually required by law and can be done in a variety of ways, but this is ultimately the responsibility of the end user.

Machine guarding is used to protect workers from hazards such as moving parts, dangerous chemicals, and electrical shock. During operation, machines may be guarded with physical barriers, interlocked devices and/or remote-control devices that shut down equipment if someone enters an area where they could be harmed by it.

What are the most common causes of injuries involving machine guarding?

When machine guards are not properly installed, maintained, or used, they can fail to protect workers from injuries. The most common causes of machine guarding injuries are:

  • Failure to install machine guards. When guards are not user-friendly, employees tend to not put the guards back in place, resulting in avoidable injuries.
  • Failure to maintain machine guards effectively over time. Guards go through regular wear and tear over time due to normal use and specific environmental
  • Poorly designed and noncompliant guards. Live by the AUTO rule, if you can reach Around, Under, Through or Over the guard, you need to replace it with something that is compliant.

What are some steps that can be taken to prevent machine guarding accidents?

  • Make sure the guard is secure. Guarding should be fastened securely to prevent unintentional removal or displacement by accident or impact, like during routine maintenance.
  • Make sure the guard is in place and working properly. Guards should be in place and functioning properly at all times while machinery is being operated, except when it is necessary to remove them for maintenance purposes. If you’re unsure whether your machine's guards are in good working order, contact a qualified person such as an engineer, mechanic, or guarding expert who can check them out for you.
  • Check for damage before using machinery with damaged guards--particularly if you suspect that someone may have tampered with them since they were last inspected by an engineer/mechanic

MSHA is taking a strong stance against unsafe practices.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is taking a strong stance against unsafe practices in the mining industry.

This means that if you are found to be violating safety regulations, MSHA will take action against you and your company with fines ranging from$1,000 to $70,000 per violation depending on severity of injury or fatality involved.


As we've seen, machine guarding is an important part of keeping workers safe. It can also help prevent accidents that cause serious injuries and even death. If you work in the mining industry and are unsure about your machine's safety features, we encourage you to contact us today!

Belt Conveyor Guarding has been building custom guarding for the mining industry for the last 30+ years.