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Guarding and Workplace Safety

July 17, 2012

Guarding and Workplace Safety – OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration; http://www.osha.gov/) requires machine guards, or guarding, on any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury to operators or to others. This standard has been around since the inception of OSHA, and still remains on its list of most frequently cited regulations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were more than 6200 work-related amputations in 2008. That number has been on the decline for over 30 years, but amputations are among the nation’s top severe workplace injuries. Workers who suffer amputation are often permanently disabled. Machine guarding is an important safety precaution to avoid such injury. Guards are sometimes removed by workers to increase speed and efficiency. The best barrier guards are those that are built into machines, so they cannot easily be removed. Guards that stop moving hazards before contact is made are another type of a machinery safety feature.  Guarding alone, however, is not adequate. Good safety procedures and training should always accompany guarding in the workplace.

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