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Safer machines with a machine guarding checklist

Industrial machinery poses very significant risks to worker safety. Use digital machinery guarding checklist to identify all hazards and comply with OSHA regulations so you can protect your people from potential risks.

What Is a Machine Guarding Checklist?

The risks that come with using machines in the workplace are undeniable. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 800 workers die machine-related deaths per year and over 18,000 suffer amputations, lacerations, abrasions, and crushing injuries. On top of this, OSHA issued 1,743 machine guarding violations in 2020 which put it at the top 10 of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards violated.

While machines play a part in increasing production efficiency, moving parts or sharp edges can cause serious workplace injuries. In fact, amputation is considered one of the most severe types of work accident because it can result in permanent disability. That’s why OSHA has set standards for machine guarding, and businesses must take proper measures to implement safeguards that will protect the workers from injury.

While this may be a big feat to achieve, it can be possible when you use a reliable machine guarding checklist that includes the pre- and post-operation checks of machine guards. Safety officers can use this to go through every piece of machine guard and ensure that they are all in good working condition. Furthermore, it also helps spread awareness on property safety procedures among workers by communicating control measures when operating heavy machinery with machine guards.

With an OSHA machine guarding checklist, you can observe the highest standards of personnel safety and save your company thousands of dollars in potential liabilities. Taking appropriate safety measures is a practice that is beneficial for your people and business.

This article covers the following topics:

1. The OSHA requirements for machine guarding

2. The content of a machine guarding checklist

3. Advantages of a digital machine guarding tool

Worker looks into the mash tun

What Are the OSHA Requirements for Machine Guarding?

The major goal of OSHA’s machine guarding regulations is to completely eliminate the hazards related to the use of machines at the workplace. To comply with regulations, your guards must meet the following requirements:

  1. Prevent contact. The guards should provide a physical barrier and prevent any body part of the operator’s body from touching the equipment’s moving parts.
  2. Secure. Machine guards should be firmly attached to the machine and secured well that workers will not be able to remove them easily. Additionally, the safety devices should be made from durable material to withstand all activities and conditions when being used.
  3. Protect from falling objects. The guards should prevent any object from falling into the moving parts.
  4. Create no new hazards. A guard must not create a new hazard; otherwise, it will defeat its purpose. New hazards can come in shear points, jagged edges, or unfinished surfaces that can cut workers or cause lacerations. On top of this, a guard should never obstruct the worker’s view.
  5. Create no interference. Guards that delay or prevent the worker from finishing the task as quickly as possible must be overridden.
  6. Allow safe lubrication. If possible, workers should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the guards easily, so they don’t have to enter into the hazardous area or increase risk exposure.

Apart from knowing the regulations, you also need to know the types of hazards that should be included in your machinery safety checklist. Different mechanical motions and actions can increase the risk of hazards to operating around machinery.

They are categorized into three basic types:

  • Hazardous Motions. This pertains to rotating machine parts, reciprocating motions such as sliding parts or up/down motions, and transverse motions where materials move in a continuous line.
  • Points of Operation. This refers to areas where the machine cuts, shapes, bores, or bends the material or stock fed through it.
  • Pinch Points and Shear Points. These areas where a portion of the operator’s body or clothing can get caught between a moving part of the machine and a stationary object. Flywheels, pulleys,gears, and belts are examples of this.

It’s important to remember that non-mechanical hazards can also cause injuries. Splinters, debris, sparks, or sprays can be potentially dangerous when an operator is too close to the machine’s vicinity. There should be guards on the machine and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

What Should a Machinery Safety Guarding Checklist Cover?

A well-made machinery guarding checklist will hit two birds with one stone: safeguard your people better and help you comply with OSHA requirements. To be most effective, it should include every step from risk identification all the way to guard inspections.

Here is a list of all the important things it should cover:

1. Assess and Identify All Machine-Related Hazards and Risks

Awareness precedes prevention. To set the right guards in place, you first need to identify every piece of equipment that may pose a risk to your employee’s health and safety. A walkthrough to all areas of your facility may be necessary to get this done.

2. Double Check if All Machines Have Existing Guards

Not every machine has built-in safety guards provided by the manufacturer, and those that do have, may not meet OSHA requirements. So, businesses must make it a point to check all equipment, build or alter guards, and guarantee that they meet the minimum requirements of OSHA for optimal safety.

3. Inspect Machine Guards for Signs of Tampering or Removal

Machine guards should not be easily removed or tampered with. If there’s any sign of any of the two, the issues should be solved immediately. Otherwise, it could compromise the quality of the guards that are set in place.

4. Ensure That All Hazardous Parts of the Machine Have Machine Guards

Machine guards should be provided to ensure that operators are protected from all three types of mechanical hazards and non-mechanical hazards. On top of this, controls should always be within easy reach of the operator.

5. Check Electrical Hazards.

Even a minor shock can have grave implications to a person’s health. That’s why machine installations should follow the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association and National Electrical Code:

  • All machines should be properly set and grounded
  • Power supplies should be fused correctly and have ample protection
  • Conduit fittings should be snug secured

6. Provide Miscellaneous Aids or Extra Protection

When machine guards cannot eliminate hazards, employers must compensate by equipping their workers with extra protection. This can come in the form of awareness barriers that actively identify the presence of a hazard and special hand tools like push sticks that operators can use to feed or remove items from machines.

7. Address Non-mechanical Hazards

PPEs, enclosures, and special guards must be used to protect workers from noise hazards, small materials, or dangerous substances that are discharged by machines.

8. Establish a System to Safely Shut Down Machinery

Workers must take appropriate measures to ensure that the machine is turned off properly before safeguards are removed. A misstep can result in an accident.

9. Train Your Operators

All new and current employee who is hired to work with a piece of equipment should undergo comprehensive training and be educated on the following:

  • List and description of hazards associated with specific machines
  • List and description of machine guards and how they are to be properly used
  • Clear instructions on when safeguards can be removed, how to safely remove them, and who is authorized to do so
  • Guide on what to do in case a guard is damaged or missing

10. Conduct Routine Inspection of Machines and Employees

Regular inspections are necessary to ensure that all equipment is in good working condition, workers are following proper protocol, and any problem is identified and fixed immediately.

Worker on the industry machine

The Advantages of a Digital Machine Guarding Tool

A powerful safety inspection tool like Lumiform, can help safety officers and operations supervisors to conduct safety inspections before and after machine operation. Traditionally, such inspections are conducted with pen and paper. However, this method is prone to lose, damage, and unauthorized access. Switching to digital forms and checklists offers many benefits for document management and workplace safety.

With Lumiform’s mobile app and desktop software, inspections can be conveniently conducted on-site without the need to revise the data afterward. After each safety inspection, the collected data is immediately stored digitally, securely, and centrally in the cloud. This means that all responsible employees have immediate access to the information. But that’s just one of the benefits Lumiform offers companies in managing their occupational health and safety measures:

  • Get started digitally right away: the Lumiform’s template library offers numerous, ready-to-use templates for various use cases.
  • The digital templates can be easily customized with the form builder to the company’s needs.
  • Easily conduct pre- and post-operation checks via the app on the smartphone or tablet on-site – online or offline.
  • Assign tasks and corrective actions immediately via the mobile device. Simultaneously monitor via the dashboard, which tasks have been assigned and completed and which are overdue.
  • Automatically create reports after each risk assessment, which can be shared immediately with others.

Woman on assembly line in production

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