Employers are responsible for ensuring risk elimination at workplace, especially the risks that arise from the use of machineries. Providing a safe work environment and safe machineries is the primary responsibility of employers and not stopping at it imparting safety training to workers is also in their scope. Machineries have its own risks in operation especially that arise from exposed moving parts and to prevent accidents machinery guarding has to be ensured. This begins with the manufacturers who provide the basic safety features of machines. But considering the operations that are performed on the machine, additional protection may be used by employers to enhance safety. Let us now look at the methods of protection that are available and understand how each type can help to minimise the risks associated with machine operations. There are two basic types of protection that are available – machine guards and safety devices for machines.
Keeping the dangerous parts of machines covered so as to restrict access to these areas is the basic objective of machine guards that can come in various forms, sizes and shapes. The barrier that is created by the cover prevents workers from laying their hands to those areas that can become a danger if touched without adequate precaution. Guards also prevent bystanders from getting hurt by flying debris or splashing chemicals that can be thrown out from machines. There are three different types of machine guards used.
- Fixed guards – These are stationary protection that cannot be removed easily. It can be made from sheet metal, fibre glass or wires but should not obstruct visibility.
- Adjustable guards – Where fixed guards are not feasible for use, adjustable guards can be very effective. These guards are placed when required and should be carefully installed to avoid accidents.
- Self-adjusting guards – These guards can adjust automatically to various operational requirements on its own without the need of changing settings. The flexibility allows processing of various sizes of materials without the need of re-positioning the guards.
Features of machine guards
Although machine guards are manufactured according to the design and operational hazards of machines there are certain things that are common to all. These features are aligned to the principle of maintaining safety of machines and are thus prevalent in all kinds of machine guards that are used.
- Tamper proof – All machine guards have to be tamper proof so that workers cannot play with it. It has to be securely fixed to the machine, should not obstruct vision and should be made from such material that can withstand the working conditions.
- Contact deterrent – Machine guards have to be designed and positioned in a manner so that it can act as a deterrent, should anyone try to contact the machine part that is being guarded. No body parts should be allowed to come in contact with the guarded section of the machine.
- Non- interfering – The normal operations of the machine should not be affected as a result of putting machine guards. The operator should never feel that machine guards are obstruction to normal working.