Machine safety guards are hazard controls against machine hazards. Machine-related hazards can appear 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.
Ideally, 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 to an acceptable level. The selection of hazard control methods should always be referred to as hazard control hierarchy.
Machine safety guards are usually designed by the machine’s manufacturer. And the safety precaution related to machine installation, operation, and maintenance are mentioned in the manufacturer’s manual. However, there may be some potential hazards that appear after the machine installed at the plant site, which has 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. Maybe you operate a lot of machines in your plant site. You can identify them based on machine types, placement area (a hazardous area or not), source of driving energy, or associated hazard. Machine identification results will be used as input for machine hazard assessment before you can determine it, safety guard.
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 like the effect of machine and process interaction or other factors.
Available Types of Machine Safety Guards
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. Their selection 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 the lower level and a warning must be provided to prevent the hazard harms the workers or equipment.
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.
Failed to provide proper machine safety guards will expose workers to injury and even death, as well as costly equipment damages.