No matter how good you are at your work, there is a chance you will make a wrong move. It could be for just a second — putting your hand in front of a blade or under a punch, or stepping too close to a conveyor.
That’s where machine guards come in. They protect you against the day when you make one small wrong move.
There are countless reports of accidents where a worker was injured or killed because a machine guard was missing or misused.
It’s easy to forget about the importance of machine guards, especially if you have managed to work without an accident. You might feel the guard gets in your way or slows you down, or it takes too long to replace the guard after adjusting or servicing the machine.
But the fact is a machine guard is there to protect you. Use it the way it was intended.
These are some of the types of guards which protect you against mechanical hazards:
Barrier guards work by enclosing the dangerous area and keeping you out. They prevent you from reaching into any of the moving parts. They may protect you from flying debris and from broken parts such as chains or belts.
Another kind of guard holds you back or actually pulls you back from the point of operation at the crucial time.
Two-handed controls require you to keep both hands engaged at the controls while the machine is operating. This keeps your hands away from the danger area.
Electronic sensors can also serve as guards. They prevent the machine from operating when a part of your body, such as your hand, enters the work zone.
Interlocking guards keep you from running the machine unless the guards are in place and they keep you from opening the guard while the machine is in use.
These are just some of the kinds of guards which can protect you from moving machinery. Before you go to work on a job, make sure the guards are in place, they are properly adjusted and working correctly. If you suspect any problem, report it immediately.
Don’t forget about using guards off-the-job as well. Equipment ranging from wood-working tools to lawnmowers have guards. Make sure to use them the way they are intended – so they can protect you when you make that one wrong move.