Safeguarding is a term that refers to protecting a worker from coming into contact with moving parts and machinery. Moving parts and machinery pose a substantial hazard to maintenance workers and production workers.
Safeguarding as an Engineered Control
Injuries from moving parts occur very frequently in industry, including the manufacturing, construction, and warehouse environments. These injuries result from exposure to excessive energies such as crushing, tearing, pinching, and cutting.
Safeguarding is a control strategy to keep the worker out of the “energy zone” to prevent these exposures.
Engineered controls are one of the most effective ways to protect workers from moving parts. Safeguarding is simply another way of engineering out a hazard.
Location of Control
There are three opportunities, following this model, to control worker exposure to harmful energy. Controls can be introduced at the source, along the pathway, or at the worker.
Here is an example. A rotating auger is defined as a hazardous source. It may be very simple and cost-effective to train the worker to not put his hand in the rotating auger. This would be an example of administrative control. However, this is not our most effective means of controlling the hazard.
It would be more effective to use an engineering control such as machine guarding.
In order to fully understand safeguarding, you need to understand the following key
- Safeguarding: Any means of preventing workers from coming into contact with moving parts.
- Point of Operation: The point at which material is placed for processing.
- Power Transmission: Moving mechanical parts on a piece of equipment. These may be electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, or mechanical.
- Device: A mechanism designed for safeguarding at the point of operation.
- Guard: Barriers used to safeguard the point of operation area.
- Enclosure: Barriers used to enclose the moving parts of a mechanical piece of equipment.
- Fencing: An enclosure system placed around a piece of equipment to prevent access of unauthorized personnel.
- Nip Point: A hazardous area created by mechanical parts moving in opposite directions.
- Pinch Point: A hazardous area where a body part can come into contact with two or more moving mechanical parts.
Safeguards generally have the following characteristics:
- Are an integrated part of the equipment
- Are well designed and durable to withstand the forces of the equipment
- Allow for simple feeding and ejection
- Are easy to inspect and maintain
- Must be tamper-proof
Safeguards should not create another hazard, interfere with the work to be completed, or cause worker discomfort. All safeguards have the same general function – to protect the worker.
A guard is like a cover that prevents access to the moving parts. A barrier guard is the most common type of guard. A device is a mechanism designed for safeguarding at the point of operation. It prevents access to the point of operation, meaning the worker is denied access or close contact and protected from harm. A two-hand control is an example of a device.
Devices that interfere with the work to be completed or create worker discomfort reduce efficiency. Because of this, workers may tamper with or remove devices, thus creating a hazard.