Test Yourself — Are your guards secure?

By: Ray Chishti

Publication: Employee Safety Management Today

Date Posted: 02/18/2020

Hazard Assessment in Workplace

You’ve conducted a hazard assessment of the machinery in your workplace and it has all required guarding; proper guarding is a critical component of machine safeguarding. But there are two other components that are sometimes overlooked: Will the guards stay put, and are they effective? Use our checklist below to see if your guards are secured properly and effectively.

❒ Check and see if the guard is loose or moves in any way it shouldn’t.

❒ Look to see if the guard is missing any screws, bolts, wing nuts, or lock fasteners. Even though the guard might not appear to be loose, if one of these things is missing, it may cause the guard to move or vibrate while the machine is operating. Each fastener is rated for a certain load that may be applied to it. If it’s missing, the guard absorbs the force instead and can fail.

❒ You’ve determined that all the fasteners are in place. But are they secured properly? Is everything tight and torqued according to the manufacture’s recommendations?

❒ Identify all the places of movement on your machines. Check to make sure that an effective guard is in place at each of these places. It should be fixed and in good condition. An aging guard can fail under pressure.

❒ Check to see if the guard is effective. Can something contact it while the machine is in operation? Will it protect the employee from where it’s fixed? Talk to management, machine operators, engineering, and the manufacturer to determine what the best guard is to protect workers and how to install it properly. Machines with moving parts can damage or cause improperly installed guards to fall off.

❒ Is anything missing or broken from the guard? Even if it might still protect workers, if something on the guard is broken—fix it or replace the guard immediately.

Sometimes we think safety should be common sense. And sometimes it is. But workers can become complacent over time and what should be common sense is many times inadvertently overlooked. Have your workers use this checklist to perform periodic machine guard inspections. Take it to your next toolbox talk and use it to engage your workers about machine guarding safety.

About the author
Ray Chishti - EH&S Editor

Ray is an editor at  J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. and has over 12 years of EH&S experience in a variety of industries, including EPC projects, fossil fuel power plants, gas distribution and transmission, and electrical transmission work.

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