Safety Guarding 101

Machine Safety – Do I Need to Know the Risk Rating?


Jason Kerkhof

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January 10, 2023

As a starting point in developing an effective safety guarding policy, a risk assessment is a great tool that will discover potential areas of risk, ensuring compliancy and educate stakeholders on proper safety guarding practices and procedures.

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a systemic process for evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking. In our specific case it would be for machine guarding, and will assess the hazards that currently exist or may appear in the workplace. It will provide a risk rating for each piece of equipment, and clearly show which workplace hazards are likely to cause harm to employees and what the priority for fixing them should be.

Why do a risk assessment?

Risk assessments are a very important part of any occupational health and safety management plan. They help to:

·        Create awareness of hazards and risk

·        Identify who may be at risk (i.e., employees, cleaners, contractors, etc.)

·        Determine whether a control program is required for a particular hazard

·        Determine if existing control measures are adequate or if more should be done

·        Prevent injuries

·        Prioritize hazards and control measures

·        Meet legal requirements where applicable

Who can do a risk assessment?

While anyone can do a risk assessment, there are benefits to outsourcing so you have a fresh set of eyes and someone who is well versed in the standards that apply to your business, whether that be OSHA, MSHA, CSA or another standard.

You also need to take into consideration the risk level of your business when deciding who will do your risk assessment. If you’re in an office environment, you can have a staff member do the assessment as the risk of serious injury is low, while if you are in a mine or manufacturing / processing plant the risk of serious injuries is much, much higher, so you should have an experienced outside source do your assessment.

In the end it will come down to 3 things you need to think about when making this decision. Consider the size of your business, the type of business you have, and the resources you have available. If you take all of these factors into account, you will be able to make the best decision for your specific business.

What’s involved with a risk assessment?

When booking a machine guarding assessment, always ask if the company is able to provide quotes for the guarding that will be recommended from the assessment. If they aren’t able to provide that information you should look into a company that would be able to do that, so an inspection agency that has ties to a guarding company, or an actual guarding company themselves.

The process will consist of the following parts.

A Site Visit

This is when a Guarding Specialist will visit the work site and conduct the physical assessment. They will:

·        Meet with stakeholders to review the assessment plan

·        Assess the equipment guarding that is specified in the plan

·        Take pictures of all equipment that requires guarding

·        Measure areas to ensure a tight, secure, and compliant guarding can be recommended

·        Recommend guarding upgrades based on either MSHA, OSHA, or CSA standards.

The Guarding Assessment Report

A thorough report that goes through all the findings and recommendations from the risk assessment will be created. It will include:

·        Itemized report showing pictures of non-compliant guarding

·        Description of guarding deficiencies

·        Itemized quote showing cost to replace defective guarding

·        Most critical tasks to be addressed in order to maximize budget and eliminate scope creep


Risk Assessment by Belt Conveyor Guarding

If you’re looking for a guarding company to come out and do a complete risk assessment for your machine guarding needs


Our services include:

·        Risk identification

·        Risk management

·        Cost projections & breakdown

·        Customized guarding designs

·        Fabrication of custom guarding

·        On-site equipment measurements and photography

·        On-site training


Other benefits of a professional risk assessment include:

·        Discover solutions to reduce unnecessary workplace injuries

·        Developing a stronger understanding of the standardized requirements and scope of a tailored guarding project

·        Eliminating ineffective guarding systems and ensuring industry compliancy

·        Increasing productivity


Wondering if your facility is fully in line with the latest machine safety standards? Reach out to us at and we will be happy to help you out.