OSHA machine guarding requirements for General Industry are set out in the Machinery and Machine Guarding subpart of the General Industry Standard (29 CFR 1910, Subpart O). Subpart O includes 2 basic kinds of machine guarding requirements:
General machine guarding requirements that apply to all machines (1910.212); and
Machine-specific requirements for particular kinds of machines, including:
This article looks at the Subpart from 30,000 feet and focuses on general requirements and approach. For detailed information about a specific item, click on the link and you’ll be taken to our comprehensive OVERVIEW.
What Machine Guarding Involves
Machine guarding means using physical, mechanical and other devices, such as electronic devices that automatically shut off the machine when somebody puts his hand into a danger zone. Employers must use 1 or more machine guarding methods to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area.
Guards must be physically secured by affixing guard to the machine. If that’s impossible to attach the guard to the machine, the guard must be secured elsewhere.
Machines designed for a fixed location must also be securely anchored to prevent walking or moving.
When Machine Guarding Is Required
OSHA mandates that machines guards be used to protect workers in 3 areas:
Basic Types of Machine Guards
Machine guards fall under 5 general categories:
General Standards for Guards and Guarding Equipment
Guards must adhere to the following basic principles:
Requirements for Point of Operation Guards
The point of operation must be guarded if it poses a danger. Examples of machines with dangerous points of operation: guillotine cutters, shears, power presses, milling machines, power saws, jointers and portable power tools.
Point of operation guards must meet the appropriate OSHA standard for the kind of machine and hazard involved. Guards may be supplemented with—though not replaced by—special handtools that allow operators to place and remove materials from the machine without sticking their hands in the danger zone.
Revolving drums, barrels and containers must be guarded by an enclosure that’s interlocked with the drive mechanism, so that the barrel, drum or container can’t revolve unless the guard enclosure is in place.
One common mistake many employers make is to purchase machinery that’s unguarded and simply assume they don’t need to do anything further because they machine wouldn’t have been sold to them if it didn’t meet governmental regulations. This unfortunate mistake is based on flawed assumptions about legal requirements and has been the cause of many injuries and fatalities as well as fines from regulatory agencies.