Machine Safety In The Workplace
In today’s day in age, with all of the technological advancements we’ve experienced over the past century, it is extremely uncommon for one to enter a workplace anywhere without coming across some type of machine. These machines we have created have made life much easier for us, our jobs much easier, and have had a large part in shaping the way we work today. To be more specific, machines are able to increase productivity, increase the level of quality, and allows for more affordable production rates. However, with these amazing machines comes an extraordinary amount of responsibility. Improperly used machines can cause as much harm as they give help, and it is important that workers practice the correct machine safety in the workplace in order to prevent injuries, or even fatalities, from occurring.
The machines we are speaking about here obviously pertain more towards workplaces that deal with production, construction, manufacturing, mining, shipping, etc. Machines in these types of workplaces are usually heavy duty, industrial machines that are capable of inflicting more than just a little damage; they can be flat out deadly. If a machine can cut through metal, it can cut off fingers. If a machine can cut through steel, it can cut through flesh. Injuries such as these are not only extremely painful and long lasting, but they can be career ending as well. So, to help workers better understand the machines around them, we have put together this guide to help practice proper safety around machines in the workplace.
The first thing workers want to be aware of is the point of operation. The point of operation is where the work of the machine is occurring. In other words, it’s where the cutting, chopping, boring, punching, or pressing is taking place. Never, ever put any body part anywhere near where the machine is performing its work! If this happens, injury is almost certain to occur, and it probably is not going to be pretty. Sparks or fragments can also be produced at the point of operation which can result in particles flying towards the operator as well as into surrounding areas. To protect against these flying particles, safety glasses are strongly suggested.
The next thing workers want to be aware of is the power train. The power train is where energy is transferred though gears, shafts, belts, cables, or hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders. Again, like with the point of operation, workers do not want any parts of their bodies anywhere near the power train. Workers who work with these types of machines need to follow the correct lockout/tag out procedures and be sure to replace all guards when repairs are completed. If there are any missing guards, employees need to be sure to alert their supervisors before operating the equipment.
In addition to everything we have just mentioned, workers need to always:
- Ensure machines are securely anchored. This prevents the machines from tipping over, excessively vibrating, “walking”, or any other movement that could be dangerous to workers around it.
- Never blindly reach into spots that could possibly contain parts that are energized.
- Ensure there is adequate lighting. Workers should be able to see all points of operation at all times.
- Make sure all conductive items are kept well away from exposed electrical parts. These items can include rings, watches, belt buckles, steel wool, etc.
- Never, ever unplug or plug in electrical equipment with wet hands!
- Correctly follow all proper lockout/tag out procedures.
- Be sure to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for each task.
Keep in mind that even though forklifts, trucks, power lifts, etc. are not considered production machinery, they still pose a significant threat to workers if they are not being used properly. These machines still have points of operation and power trains that should be treated the same as if they were on production machinery. Also, workers must be properly trained in all aspects of each machines before operating it. Machine safety is one of the most important parts of running a successful and effective site safety program. If it is neglected, workers will get hurt and the company will suffer because of it. Don’t neglect machine safety! Your workers, your company, and you will be much better off as a result.