Safety Guarding 101

On Guard: Keeping Workers Safe Around Machines


Jason Kerkhof

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June 14, 2023

In many industries, workers are required to operate machines and work around moving parts. While these machines are necessary for many operations, they can also pose a serious risk to the safety of workers if proper precautions are not taken. In this blog, we will discuss some ways to keep workers safe around machines and moving parts.


1.      Proper training

One of the most important steps in keeping workers safe around machines is providing proper training. Workers must be trained on how to operate machines safely, including how to use the machine's safety features and how to recognize potential hazards. Training should also cover how to perform maintenance on the machine, such as changing blades or lubricating parts. Workers should receive regular refresher training as well to ensure they stay up-to-date with safety protocols.


2.      Use safety guards

Another important step in keeping workers safe around machines is using safety guards and devices. Safety guards are physical barriers that prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts. They are particularly important in industries such as manufacturing and anywhere that deals with bulk material handling, where workers operate heavy machinery. Safety devices such as sensors can also be used to detect the presence of workers near machines and automatically shut off the machine if necessary. These safety features must be properly maintained and tested regularly to ensure they are functioning correctly.


3.      Perform regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential for ensuring that machines operate correctly and safely. Workers should be trained to perform basic maintenance tasks such as changing blades, lubricating parts, and checking for worn or damaged components. More complex maintenance tasks should be performed by trained professionals. Regular maintenance can help prevent accidents caused by worn or faulty parts.


4.      Implement lockout/tagout procedures

Lockout/tagout procedures are a set of safety procedures used to ensure that machinery is properly shut down and unable to start up again during maintenance or repair work. Workers must be trained on these procedures and understand the importance of following them. Properly implementing lockout/tagout procedures can prevent accidents caused by unexpected start-ups of machinery.


5.      Provide personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) can provide an additional layer of protection for workers around machines and moving parts. Depending on the industry, PPE may include items such as safety glasses, hardhats, earplugs, gloves, and safety shoes. Employers should provide appropriate PPE for their workers and ensure that it is properly maintained and replaced as needed.


6.      Encourage workers to report safety concerns

Workers should feel comfortable reporting safety concerns to their employers. This can include issues with machinery, safety equipment, or unsafe working conditions. Employers should take these concerns seriously and take action to address them. Encouraging workers to report safety concerns can help identify potential hazards before they lead to accidents.


7.      Conduct regular safety audits

Regular safety audits can help identify potential hazards and ensure that safety protocols are being followed. Audits should be conducted by trained professionals who can identify potential hazards and make recommendations for improving safety. Employers should take the results of safety audits seriously and take action to address any identified issues.


8.      Promote a culture of safety

Finally, promoting a culture of safety is essential for keeping workers safe around machines and moving parts. Employers should make safety a priority and ensure that workers understand the importance of following safety protocols. Workers should be encouraged to report safety concerns and take an active role in maintaining a safe working environment.


In conclusion, keeping workers safe around machines and moving parts requires a combination of training, safety equipment, regular maintenance, and a commitment to safety from both employers and workers. By following these steps, employers can help prevent accidents and ensure that workers stay safe on the job.