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Guidelines on machine guarding – In most industries, small and large machines are used to perform various functions. The moving parts of these machines can cause injuries such as amputations, burns, lacerations, or crushing (Safety and Health Topics). OSHA has brought about certain guidelines, which are mandatory for employers to follow while using machines in their workplace to protect employees from injuries.
Two OSHA regulations apply to all machining operations. These are:
· OSHA standards for machine guarding – Standard 1910.211 – 1910.222
· OSHA lockout/tagout standards – Standard 1910.147 and 1910.331
OSHA regulations require that measures be taken to protect operators and other employees in the workplace from hazards created by rotating parts, flying chips and sparks, by contact with a moving machine part, chemical and hot metal splashes, and machine malfunction due to mechanical and electrical faults. OSHA recognizes that most mechanical mishaps occur due to dangerous moving parts in three areas – the point of operation, power transmission apparatus, and other moving parts of a machine. Besides these, there are some mechanical motions and actions that are hazardous, such as rotation, reciprocation, cutting, shearing, and bending (Concepts and Techniques of Machine Safeguarding). Some non-mechanical factors also cause hazards, such as the power source of a machine. Some of the safeguards that are required by OSHA to be followed for all machines are as follows:
· The point of operation of a machine, which causes a risk of injury to the operator will be guarded.
· To prevent the operator from putting his hand in a danger zone, special tools for putting and retrieving raw materials and finished products will be used.
· Revolving drums and containers will be guarded by enclosures to prevent injury.
· Blades that are less than seven feet above the floor will be guarded.
· Fixed machines will be anchored securely to prevent them from moving accidentally.
· Proper lockout and tagout systems will be implemented to prevent machines from being turned on by unauthorized personnel.
· Power sources will be properly grounded and old, frayed wires will be replaced.
· Besides these, OSHA has devised specific guidelines for machines belonging to industries such as woodworking machinery, cooperage machinery, mechanical power presses, etc. (Regulations, Standards – 29 CFR).
Machine guarding compliance – Besides formulating regulations, OSHA also enforces compliance with these regulations. Punitive measures are taken against businesses not in compliance with OSHA regulations, which include cancellation of licenses. To encourage compliance, OSHA provides training and tools to assist business owners. OSHA has developed software packages called “e-Tools” that are interactive web-based tools that provide information on various OSHA regulations, including machine guarding.
The content is illustrated through graphics and helps employers know how OSHA guidelines apply to their particular business. This tool is available on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/oshasoft/index.html. Besides these, OSHA has developed powerpoint presentations and compliance checklists to help business owners with compliance. Workmen can lodge complaints against business owners through OSHA’s website (OSHA eTools and Electronic Products for Compliance Assistance).