Identify guarding priorities and control options
Once the risk assessment is completed, identify your guarding priorities and determine the best control options. Safeguarding priorities should follow the Hierarchy of Controls concept.
When possible, machinery hazards should be eliminated, substituted, or reduced by engineering controls to a safe level. This may be possible by using full or partial automation, making a process change such as increasing clearances to eliminate pinch points, or updating to safer equipment components. After this is done, safeguarding mechanisms must be used to protect against the remaining hazards. This can be a combination of barrier guards, devices and methods. A critical part of the guarding selection and design process is to involve all stakeholders who will be involved. Operators, maintenance, housekeeping, supervisors and upper management should all be involved in the process to ensure the guarding solution follows the general principles of guarding.
General principles for mechanical hazard guards
To be effective, machine guards should be constructed of materials capable of withstanding workplace conditions and expected forces. They should be designed in such a way as to:
- Prevent Contact — The guard should eliminate the possibility of any part of a worker’s body coming into contact with dangerous moving or otherwise hazardous parts. Workplace rules guiding safe work-practices should prohibit loose clothing, dangling hair, jewelry, or other exposures that could lead to pulled-into injuries.
- Be Secure — Guards should be secured in a fashion such that operators are unable to remove or tamper with them, and substantial enough to withstand the conditions of normal use.
- Protect from Falling Objects — The guard’s design should eliminate the chance of objects, such as tools or materials, from falling into moving parts.
- Create No New Hazards — A safeguard should not introduce any new hazards, such as sharp or jagged edges that could cause a laceration.
- Not Interfere — Guards that get in the way of a worker performing the job efficiently and comfortably are likely to be removed or overridden. Consult with workers when designing guards to identify any potential interference or with operations.
- Allow safe lubrication — Machine lubrication should be possible without removing guards.
When evaluating or developing guards, remember to use the acronym AUTO. This will help you to ensure that the guard prevents a person from being able to access the hazard area by going
Over a guard
Evaluate and maintain safeguards
Once effective safeguarding measures have been determined and implemented, it is important to ensure they function as intended and remain in working order. This is done by conducting routine inspections of the guarding mechanisms and observations of work practices. As with the development of the guarding solution, it is critical that this part of the process includes feedback from all employees involved with using the machinery. Re-evaluations should be conducted whenever there is a machinery change or process revision to ensure it does not interfere with existing guarding or create additional hazards.