Machine Guarding 101: Types and Uses of Machine Guards

Types of Machine Guarding

Machine guarding refers to the use of protective measures and devices to minimize the risk of accidents, injuries, and hazards associated with machinery. The goal of machine guarding is to create physical barriers and implement safety mechanisms that prevent workers from coming into contact with hazardous machine components. Here are some common types of machine guarding:

1. Fixed Guards

Fixed guards are physical barriers permanently attached to the machine or its surrounding area. They are designed to enclose hazardous machine parts, such as rotating blades, gears, or cutting mechanisms. Fixed guards are typically made of sturdy materials, such as metal or plastic, and are securely fastened to prevent their removal or tampering.

2. Interlocked Guards

Interlocked guards are machine guards that are connected to the machine’s control system through safety interlocks. These guards prevent machine operation or initiate a stop when they are opened, removed, or tampered with. Interlocked guards ensure that workers cannot access hazardous areas while the machine is in operation.

3. Adjustable Guards

Adjustable guards are machine guards that can be easily repositioned, adjusted, or adapted to accommodate different machine setups and tasks. They provide flexibility in guarding specific machine parts or areas based on the requirements of the operation. Adjustable guards are often used when the machine setup or operation frequently changes.

4. Self-Adjusting Guards

Self-adjusting guards are machine guards that automatically adapt to the size or position of the machine part or workpiece. They are designed to provide a barrier that adjusts to the movement or shape of the machine operation, maintaining a safe distance between the worker and the hazardous area. Self-adjusting guards are commonly used in machines with moving parts or irregular workpiece shapes.

5. Two-Hand Controls

Two-hand controls are safety devices that require simultaneous activation by both hands to operate the machine. They are designed to ensure that both hands are away from hazardous areas during the machine’s operation. Releasing one hand from the control will stop or deactivate the machine, preventing accidental contact with dangerous machine parts.

6. Safety Light Curtains

Safety light curtains are devices that use infrared or laser beams to create an invisible sensing field around hazardous areas of a machine. These curtains form a protective barrier, and when the beam is interrupted by a person or object, the machine operation is stopped or controlled. Safety light curtains provide a non-contact safeguarding solution that allows access to the machine while ensuring worker safety.

7. Safety Mats

Safety mats are pressure-sensitive devices placed on the floor in front of a machine or hazardous area. When a worker steps on the mat, it triggers a stop or control signal, immediately stopping or controlling the machine’s operation. Safety mats provide a means to detect the presence of workers in dangerous zones and prevent access to hazardous areas.

8. Emergency Stop Buttons

Emergency stop buttons, also known as E-stop buttons or kill switches, are large, highly visible buttons or switches that workers can easily reach and activate in case of emergencies. Pressing the emergency stop button initiates an immediate and complete shutdown of the machine, halting its operation to prevent further risks or injuries.

It is important to note that the specific type of machine guarding required may vary depending on the machine, its hazards, and the applicable safety regulations and standards in a particular industry or region. Proper machine guarding should be implemented in accordance with the specific risk assessment and safety guidelines for the machine and its intended use.