Having an understanding of how a machine works, and how the guards can protect you, will result in a reduced risk of injury. In order to be in compliance with Cal/OSHA requirements, all guards must:
- Prevent contact – machine guards must provide a physical barrier that prevents the operator from having any part of his/her body in the “danger zone” during the machine’s operating cycle;
- Be secured in place or otherwise be tamper proof – machine guards must be secure and strong so that workers are not able to bypass, remove, or tamper with them. They must be attached to the machine where possible. If the guard cannot be physically attached to the machine it must be attached elsewhere;
- Create no new hazard – A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface which can cause a laceration. The edges of guards, for instance, should be rolled or bolted in such a way that they eliminate sharp edges. Machine guards should not obstruct the operator’s view;
- Allow for lubrication with the guard still in place - If possible, one should be able to lubricate the machine without removing safeguards. Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for the operator or maintenance worker to enter the hazardous area.
- Not interfere with the machine operation - Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding can actually enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker’s apprehensions about injury.
There are also non-mechanical hazards that can injure machine operators or personnel working in the vicinity of machinery. These hazards include flying splinters, chips or debris; splashes, sparks or sprays that are created when the machine is operating. These hazards can be prevented through the use of machine guarding and wearing/use of required personal protective equipment (PPE).