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Machine perimeter fencing part two: Applications

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In our recent article (MH Network, pg. 34/February issue) about machine perimeter fencing, we talked about the improvements in workplace safety over the last century and the role that machine perimeter fencing has played in them. We also discussed machine perimeter fencing from an OSHA compliance standpoint, as regulators continue to place greater emphasis on safety. What we didn’t talk about are the potential applications of machine perimeter fencing and exactly how it increases safety and security, while helping businesses comply with safety codes.

Machine perimeter applications
While we touched briefly on the fact that OSHA requires all machinery to have proper perimeter guarding, it’s important to understand which kinds of applications are subject to these rules and how they apply in different settings.

Machine guarding provides an effective way to protect personnel from flying debris, unexpected automated machine movement, process hazards, fast moving parts and other dangers associated with the use of machinery. Because of this, OSHA has mandated the use of machine perimeter guarding in warehouses with exposed machinery. The most comprehensive and general OSHA requirement is standard 1910.212(a)(1):
Types of guarding. 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. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.

This standard summarizes the need for machine perimeter fencing, giving examples of machine hazard points and types of guarding that protect against them. Having established the basic requirement for adequate machine fencing, OSHA moves on to more general requirements. Wondering where to place the machine guarding? OSHA addresses this question with standard 1910.212.(a)(2)

General requirements for machine guards. Guards shall be affixed to the machine where possible and secured elsewhere if for any reason attachment to the machine is not possible. The guard shall be such that it does not offer an accident hazard in itself.

Point of operation guarding
Within the realm of general machine guarding is point of operation guarding. Point of operation guarding refers to protection put in place at the point of operation on a given machine. Instead of guarding the entire area around a machine, point of operation guarding protects a specific hazardous point on the machine in order to keep the operator safe. 1910.212(a)(3)(iii)

The point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury, shall be guarded. The guarding device shall be in conformity with any appropriate standards therefor, or, in the absence of applicable specific standards, shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the operator from having any part of his body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.

Examples of machines that often require point of operation guarding include:
• Shears
• Power presses
• Power saws
• Jointers
• Milling machines
• Guillotine cutters
• Forming rolls and calenders
• Portable power tools

Guarding for specific machines and industries
There are also certain applications that require guarding to be installed in order for them to operate. This is a common method used to enforce warehouse safety, for obvious reasons. Without the safety mechanism in place, the worker can’t accomplish his or her job. When it comes to machine perimeter fencing, the machines required by OSHA to have this feature are revolving drums, barrels, and containers. 1910.212(a)(4)

Barrels, containers, and drums. Revolving drums, barrels, and containers shall be guarded by an enclosure which is interlocked with the drive mechanism, so that the barrel, drum, or container cannot revolve unless the guard enclosure is in place.
Within the “General Industry” requirements, there are types of machines with unique requirements due to the nature of their operation. Examples of these types of machines include woodworking machinery, cooperage machinery, abrasive wheel machinery, mechanical power presses, and mills and calenders used in the rubber and plastics industries.

In addition to general industry applications, several industries have their own specific OSHA machine guarding requirements to follow. Textiles, bakery equipment and telecommunications industries all have their own standards with which to comply. These are on top of those rules designated by the general industry standards.

In warehousing and machine operation, it’s almost always a good idea to err on the side of safety. There are an endless number of applications in which machine guarding can and should be used. This can leave some room for interpretation on the part of the warehouse manager. However, the takeaway from OSHA’s standards seems to be that if a machine could possibly injure someone, it should have machine guarding around or on it.

Remember to give us a call or email us to learn more about machine perimeter fencing and other safety products. Our goal is to help you, so let us know if there’s information you’d like to see featured in our blog, website, or emails! Email wprp at with questions.

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