Machine Guarding & Tool Safety

Hand and power tools are a common part of our everyday lives and are present in almost every industry. These tools help us to easily perform tasks that otherwise would be difficult or impossible. However, these simple tools can be hazardous and have the potential for causing severe injuries when used or maintained improperly. Special attention toward hand and power tool safety is necessary to reduce or eliminate these hazards.

Machine Guarding Guidelines
Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.
Assessment Guide

Each Campus Unit shall conduct machine guarding assessments utilizing these Guidelines, manufacturer instructions, national consensus standards, applicable federal or state regulations, or other appropriate guidance or recommendations. Safeguards must protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards, such as those created by point of operation, in-running nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. In addition, they must meet these minimum general requirements:

  • Secure: Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard because a safeguard that can easily be made ineffective is no safeguard at all. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.
  • Protect from falling objects: The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts. A small tool that is dropped into a cycling machine could easily become a projectile that could strike and injure someone.
  • Protect from flying chips and sparks: When cutting, shaping, and/or milling various materials, flying chips and/or sparks can be generated. To address this hazard, a combination of physical barriers (fixed or adjustable) and proper personal protective equipment may be needed. Retro-fitting some equipment may also require custom (or fabricated) barriers, such as machining turn-of-the-century equipment that predates machine-guarding regulations and concepts.
  • Allow safe lubrication: If possible, one should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the 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.
  • Create no new hazards: A safeguard defeats its 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.
  • Create no interference: Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding can enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker's apprehensions about an injury.


Appendix - Machine Guarding Checklists

Useful Links:

OSHA 1910 Subpart O Machinery and Machine Guarding

OSHA 1910 Subpart P Hand and Portable Powered Tools and Other Hand-held Equipment

OSHA 1926 Subpart I Tools – Hand and Power

OSHA Machine Guarding eTool