5 Potentially Fatal Machine Guarding Problems

Machine guarding is very important, but unfortunately many people either do not install or maintain their machine guards or simply do not install them at all. So here are 5 potentially fatal machine guarding problems and a bonus of reasons why you should invest in machine guarding.

Do not Operate without guard

Related: Machine Guarding & Machine Guarding at Schools

Every year in Canada approximately 2,500 people are injured because of machine-related incidents. That is a shocking number of people who are injured because of something that is so easily preventable. So what can you do in order to prevent your employees and company from contributing to this statistic? The answer is simple, Machine Guarding. Unfortunately, though many people either do not machine guard their equipment or they simply do not do it correctly, so with that in mind here are 5 Serious Machine Guarding Problems that you may be doing.

  1. Lack of understanding of Machine Guarding Requirements

Many employers either do not know or do not fully understand what exactly is required in order to fully ensure a machine is safely guarded to meet OSHA/OHSA requirements. If you fall into this category you can check out this article or my previous blog post about the Machine Safety Blitz.  

  1. Improper Design or Installation

Inexperienced designers and installers may make mistakes when installing or maintaining your machine guarding equipment, which is why it is important to pick a company that has a lot experience in hazard assessment and onsite evaluations.

  1. Failure to Consider All Risks

A comprehensive machine guarding process should consider all inputs, not just ones from the guard designer, but also from the machine operators, maintenance personnel, supervisors, engineers, safety professionals, machine guarding experts and of course the original equipment manufacturer.

  1. Inadequate Controls to Ensure Guards are Adjusted & Maintained

You may, in the beginning, have well-designed guards and devices in place and they may initially be properly adjusted for your machine, but if they do not have regular inspections and maintenance the machine guard can eventually fail and when that happens can become a hazard in itself. 

  1. Belief that Manufacturer is Responsible for Machine Guarding

The original equipment manufacturer has many safety responsibilities, but you cannot assume that they have installed an appropriate machine guard for your company or that will meet all safety standards that are currently in place. It is up to you to ensure that all machines under your care are properly guarded and maintained in order to ensure that no accidents will occur.


BONUS: Six Common Excuses to Not Machine Guard, are you guilty of saying one of these?

  1. “It’ll never happen at our plant”

Here is another statistic for you, from 2002 to 2006 machines fatally wounded 223 Canadian workers, in this same period of time 36,066 injuries occurred within the manufacturing industry alone, and the main cause of these injuries? Improperly guarded machines.

  1. “We Had to remove the guards because they were hard to work with”

If you are in a position where you cannot use the machine because of the machine guard there is a high chance that it was improperly installed if this is the case then make sure you call a professional in order to ensure that the machine guard is properly installed and/or to reinstall it.

  1. “The law only applies if I buy new equipment”

“According to health and safety law, if you bought a machine in 1980 and it was built to 1980 standards and you’re still using it in 2008, there’s no requirement to rebuild it to that standard. As long as you don’t replace it, technically you don’t have to add safety features to it” (see article here).

This little loophole could save you a dollar now, but when the time comes and someone is hurt on a machine you own and they come at you with a lawsuit, you are going to wish that you had taken all of the precautions ahead of time in order to avoid this. Not to mention the damage your business’s reputation will take if an employee is hurt because you wanted to save a couple of dollars.  

  1. “Safety is a luxury we can’t afford”

You have to look at the bigger picture here the upfront cost of machine guarding may seem large, but if you take in consideration that if something goes wrong and you are facing a large lawsuit, it will make the cost of machine guarding look pretty small in comparison.

  1. “We can`t be productive if our machines are guarded’

If properly installed a machine guarding system will not inhibit production, but it will improve worker protection. Production will return to normal speed once your employees re-learn how to use the machine with the machine guard in place. 

  1. “We don`t need help”

It is not a simple task to retrofit old equipment or install brand new equipment in order to have machine guarding which is properly installed this is why it is best to find a professional who can install your safety equipment properly, and safely. 


Still not convinced about the reasons you should invest in machine guarding?

Here are the top 4 reasons why people invest in machine guarding

  1. In order to help you avoid fines that could be levied against your business for not having machine guarding.
  2. In order to help prevent injuries from occurring on machines.
  3. To ensure your business won’t be hit with medical expenses increased insurance premiums and other hidden costs if an injury did occur because of a machine, which isn’t guarded.
  4. To keep you in compliance with all current regulations and standards. Which is why properly following the machine guarding process is important and why it is best to be completed by a professional.

Safe work practices are always the best way to ensure that no one is hurt in your workplace; which is why it is so important to make sure your machines have the proper safety precaution on them and are properly maintained. You could have the best safety procedure in place, and everyone may follow them to a T but mistakes and accidents happen and if your machines are not properly guarded you or your employees could be at risk of something a lot more serious than a bill from a machine guarding company. 


Have you had an issue using machine guarding?

Have you been injured by lack of machine guarding?

If you have any tips or stories you want to share about machine guarding please comment below!

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