#10 Machine Guards-Top OSHA Violations of 2013

#10 Machine Guards-Top OSHA Violations of 2013

# 10 Machine Guards-Part of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Fiscal 2013 Series

Since the invention of moving equipment, elevators, automobiles, and pumps, there has been the opportunity for the operators of that equipment to crush their arm or hand, sever fingers with the hazards created by the moving parts. Even today, moving parts have the potential to fulfill that list. With injuries from the past, we as a society have learned to protect ourselves and our workers by eliminating or controlling the hazards just by adding proper safeguards, referred to as Machine Guards. Severe injuries can lead to your employee suffering from permanent disabilities, affecting him and his family.

OSHA reports that workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer approximately 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths annually.

Machine guarding hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for the general industry, marine terminals, longshoring, the construction and agriculture industries.


Protect your employees from machinery related injury or death exposures by complying with this standard. To ensure the safety of your workers, follow these action steps:

1. Inspect each machine to identify moving parts on the equipment and other possible hazards, such as flying debris and stored energy associated with the operation of that equipment. Ensure that the fixed equipment is anchored to prevent it from moving while in operation. The slightest unexpected movement can cause the operator to flinch and could have severe consequences.

2. Once you have identified the hazards with your equipment, ensure that the fixed guards and other safeguard device controls to engineer the hazard out of the equation are in place. Other safeguard device controls would include: 2-hand switch operation, laser guards, restraints, and similar engineering technology that prevent your employee from accessing an identified “danger zone.” Remember to consider all moving/rotating equipment hazards. Rotating fan blades less than 7’ above a working area should also be guarded.

3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is important, but it is considered a last resort. Engineer the hazard out of the operations or have clear, effective administration controls in place to prevent a hazard before relying on PPE, such as safety glasses.

4. Train employees operating the equipment to look for hazards and ask them to report any hazards seen. If an employee brings a legitimate concern to you, fix it! Remind your employees that it is their responsibility to work in a safe manner and to communicate identified hazardous or unsafe working conditions to management.

5. Test and maintain your existing equipment safeguards, inspect any new equipment before operating to identify “danger zones,” and never assume that people will take the proper precautions without having them clearly explained. Always be proactive in communicating with and training your staff, and inspecting and maintaining the equipment they use.

For more information in regards to machine guarding visit the OSHA website.

About The Author
Chantal Dale is a writer for Safety Partners, Ltd.

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