Tips to Avoid Machine Guarding Errors
Machine barriers are used not only to protect the machine from damage but to also protect employees from any injuries or harm.
If an employee comes directly in contact with a machine while in process, it could lead to a lot of fatal injuries, which is why using security machine barriers is not only important but also a necessity.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Association, operators and maintenance workers face around 18,000 injuries, amputations, abrasions, or lacerations per year and 500+ deaths annually due to inadequate guarding.
Mentioned below are the 5 common mistakes that result in machine barrier accidents and a few pointers on how to prevent making them:
- Presuming All Machinery Follows Safety Guard Standards:
Whether your machinery is new or old, it is important for it to follow the safety guard standards set by OSHA.
However, just because your new machinery arrived in a sealed box, it doesn’t mean that it has all the required plugs and shields to protect your employee from any injuries at the workplace.
It is necessary for you to conduct a safety guard survey for all your new and old machinery in order to identify if it follows the necessary safety machine guard standards set by OSHA and what item is recommended for it to be compliant with these OSHA standards.
- Removing of Forgetting to Replace Safety Barriers after Maintenance:
While examining various points of operation workplace injuries, it was evident that the second common cause was the lack of use of a safety barrier or failure in replacement. Higher authorities should ensure that safety guards are being used and aren’t removed by using disciplinary methods if needed.
In some cases, it is the workers, who intentionally remove the safety barrier to save on time or they might forget to conduct a replacement after a maintenance service. Failure to install the replacement after the maintenance service, will only result in fatal injuries to the operator and cause health issues, which is why it is essential to re-install the guard as soon as the maintenance service is over.
- Installation or Replacement of Guard Components with Poor Quality Materials:
In order for it to fulfill its purpose, a guard must be made of a material that doesn’t break, distort or bend easily. For it not having to compromise, it must be able to withstand ultraviolet radiation, airborne swarf, coolants, oils, extreme temperature, cleaners, solvents, etc.
When an installation or replacement is being conducted, it is necessary for the manufacturer to use only original components/ glass or ones that have the same level of resistance as the original, so as not to harm the health of the employee.
Sometimes, there are glass parts that bear the same name as the original but are made of poor quality and if it is used in the replacement instead of original glass, it can cause severe damages to the health of employees.
- Not Updating Safety Practices According to Requirements of the Latest Technology:
The increasing growth of robots and automation has added to the challenges faced by guards and increased the health risks of the employees. Since every machine is different and serves a different purpose, the safety practices and guards too should be different.
While one device might require a scanning device, another might need fixed guarding. It is important to identify the safety requirements for each machine and choose the guards accordingly.
- Providing Insufficient Safety Training:
Installation is not the only thing that is required, sufficient and detailed training on how to use the guards is also important to protect your employee’s health and wellbeing.
OSHA suggests that every operator and employee undergoes special training on the importance of a barrier, how to use it effectively, and how to protect themselves if there is a malfunction. They should also be trained in various machine-related workplace hazards and safe operation procedures like tagout/lockout.
Now that you are aware of the common mistakes made that result in injuries of your employees, it is important to avoid making the same mistakes.
You can protect the health of your employee as well as carry out a safe operation of your machine guards by providing sufficient training, using accurate safety guards according to the device, conducting replacements with original glass or glass providing similar impact, always conducting a replacement after maintenance and by ensuring that your safety barriers follow the OSHA standards.
Once you have followed these steps, you can allow the operation of your machinery without worrying about your employee’s health.
About the Author
Darren Pay and Justin Oakes are co-owners of A1 Windscreens, Australia that is well known for its quick and efficient machine guard replacement and good-quality safety machine guard options.