Safety Guarding 101

Worker's Education on Safety Guarding

Vadym Hordov

June 10, 2021

Workers' Training is Vital!

Even the most elaborate safety guarding system is not effective unless employees know how to use it and why. Education and training are very important tools for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so that they can work more safely while being more productive.

Educating employees on what mechanical hazards are, and the various safeguarding methods used to eliminate or minimize those hazards, are crucial parts of properly training workers to work safely around mechanical equipment.

What Employees Must be Trained On?

The onus falls on the employer to provide specific and detailed training that teaches workers to:

  • Recognize when equipment needs guarding, including identifying the pinch-points and/or rotating hazards located in their work-space. In this case, every company should follow official MSHA, OSHA and ANSI regulations. However, it might be too much work for an employee to remember various numbers, such as distance from a hazard, mesh opening size etc. For this reason, we have developed an easy-to-use tool called Safety Gauge. It will help to verify safety guarding compliance in no time. Also, it is absolutely free!
  • Identify machine safeguards themselves and how they provide protection as well as the hazard they protect against. There are 4 main types of safety guards available: fixed, interlocked, adjustable and self-adjusting. Each of these guards is protecting against a particular hazard and has its advantages and limitations [1]. It is an employer's task to make sure workers are aware of these guarding types as well as differences between them.
  • How to use safety guarding properly. Every safety guarding supplier has its own guides regarding how to use safeguards properly. Every company should follow this guide for optimal performance and long life of machine guarding.
  • How and under what circumstances safety guards can be removed and by whom. In most cases, it must be designated repair or maintenance personnel only while the machine is turned off. Of course, there are some exceptions. However, those exceptions should be communicated to workers by the equipment manufacturer. Another thing to be considered when removing guards is their maintenance-friendliness. Very often safeguards have to be removed more than 10 times a year and it is vital to make sure that workers do not get WMSD-related injury. You can find more on this topic in our previous blog (link to a blog).
  • Know what to do if a safeguard is damaged, missing or unable to provide adequate protection. In case the safety guard is not performing as it should the best bet would be to contact a trusted machine guarding manufacturer with extensive knowledge and experience in the industry.

This kind of safety training is necessary for new operators and maintenance or setup personnel, when any new or altered safeguards are put in service, or when workers are assigned to a new machine or operation.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes providing proper safety guarding, safe work procedures and adequate health and safety training. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. Employers, supervisors, and workers all have responsibilities to make sure work is performed safely.

References:

1. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/machineguarding/guards.html

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