Machine Guarding

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Moving parts of machinery create hazards and potential for serious operator injury.  We add machine guarding to reduce or eliminate injury risks and potential hazards.

OSHA’s standard 1910.212(a)(1) states that One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks.”

What is meant by machine guarding?

The main purpose of machine guarding is to protect people from hazards from running a machine.  All types of machines could be dangerous and create hazards for the operator and others in the work area.  Hazards include but are not limited to getting pulled into rotating parts, getting burned on hot surfaces, and flying debris.  These hazards can be eliminated or reduced by installing a safety guard.  Examples of safety guarding can be a fence or a light curtain.

Machine Guard Fence with Door

Types of Guarding

There are two types of machine guarding/safeguarding: guards or devices.  We can find several machine safeguards you can use depending on the machine, the area to protect, and production limitations and requirements.  Sometimes you can add two or more used together to increase operator safety further, albeit care must be taken that they work together properly.


Guards prevent access to dangerous components of a machine, and we always recommend these first because they act as a physical barrier and prevent the ejection of material.  There are four types of guards:

  1. Fixed – Fixed guards are permanent parts of machinery that provide maximum protection with minimum maintenance.  An example of this is safety covers for belt and pulley drives.  Equally important, when the machine needs repair, your maintenance staff will need to remove the guards, so don’t forget they will need proper training.
  2. Interlocked – Place interlocked guards around hazardous areas of machinery that you need to access often.  Consequently, An open or removed interlocked guard will stop the machine and prevent it from starting.  The interlock can be electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, or pneumatic.
  3. Adjustable – Adjustable guards offer flexibility to allow various stock sizes or processes.
  4. Self-Adjusting – It is similar to adjustable but moves with materials and returns to its original position using gravity or springs.
Machine guarding light curtain


Safety devices use various methods to safeguard an area and protect the machine operator.  Many of these devices are electronic and use a variety of sensors or controls to limit exposure to risks.  Safety guards are always the preferred method of safeguarding but could be impossible to implement in some situations.

Examples of devices:

  1. Photoelectric – Photoelectric or optical devices are a type of presence-sensing device that stops a machine’s operating cycle when a person breaks one of its light beams.  An example is light curtains which have multiple light beams in a row.  If anyone breaks any of the optical beams, an electrical signal stops the machine.   Limit your use of these devices because there are many factors to consider, such as safety distance and machine stop time.
  2. Two-Hand Control – A two-hand control forces an operator to keep their hands occupied during a complete machine cycle.  If the operator removes their hands at any time, the machine must immediately stop.  You must place the two-hand control safely away from any hazard and put the two buttons or controls spaced far enough to prevent activation by using only one hand.  For instance, the buttons on an anchored pedestal away from the machine. An operator must press each of the two controls within half a second of each other.
  3. Pressure Sensitive – Pressure-sensitive devices use a person’s weight to detect their presence.  An example is a pressure-sensitive safety mat that detects a person when they step on it.

You can find more information in the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) Title 29 Part 1910 Subpart O – Machinery and Machine Guarding.

Need Help?

Figuring out all the standards, rules, and regulations can be confusing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us about anything machine safety-related!

Examples of Machine Guarding

Ferndale safety has a variety of machine guarding that is in stock or made custom to order.  Here are some examples of machine-guarding products: