Machine Safety Guards – Brief Review

Machine safety guards are hazard controls against machines hazards. Machine-related hazards can be appeared during machine installation, operation and maintenance. Machine safety guards are designed to prevent human injury and death as well as equipment damages from these hazards.

machine-safetyIdeally, machine safety guards should be able to eliminate potential hazards from the machine. Otherwise, another hazard control method has to be applied to reduce the hazard level into an accepted level. Selection of hazard control methods should always be referred to hazard control hierarchy.

Machine safety guards are usually designed by the machine’s manufacturer. And the safety precaution related with machine installation, operation and maintenance are mentioned in manufacturer’s manual. However, there may be some potential hazards that appear after the machine installed at plant site, which have not been included in the safety manual.

Such condition is very common and can happen due to various factors, such as extreme process condition or interaction with nearest moving equipment in the plant site, and so on.

Identify the Machines

The first step you should do is to identify the machines you operate. May be you operate a lot of machines in your plant site. You can identify them based on machine types, placement area (hazardous area or not), source of driving energy or associated hazard. Machine identification result will be used as input for machine hazard assessment before you can determine machine safety guards.

Assessment of Machine Hazards is The Key

Even though the machine’s manufacturer has provided you a safety manual, hazard identification and risk assessment are still required to ensure no other hazards being left to be assessed. This is done to ensure that there is no other potential hazards appear as the effect of machine and process interaction or other factors.

Machine Safety Guards Types

A safeguarding device or machine safety guard is defined by ANSI B11.19 as protection of personnel from hazards by the use of guards, safeguarding devices, awareness devices, safeguarding methods or safe work procedures.

There are many types of machine safety guards. Selection of machine safety guards should initially be considered to eliminate the hazard from the machine. If it is not possible, it should be able to reduce the hazard to lower level and a warning must be provided to prevent the hazard harms the workers or equipments.

Some common machine safety guards are interlocking guards, fixed barrier guards, safety light screen/curtains, emergency stop devices, safety module and controller and two-hand control solutions.

Conclusion

Failed to provide proper machine safety guards will expose workers to injury and even death, as well as costly equipment damages.

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