Machine guarding is a vital safety feature used on manufacturing equipment that helps protect operators from causing serious harm and danger to themselves. Whether it’s from flying electrical sparks, hazardous glass shards or exposure to high intensity blades, necessary steps must be taken to avoid hazardous injuries from occurring in the workplace.
Let’s look at four different types of machine guarding and why it’s important in the manufacturing process.
A fixed guard is something that is essentially built into the machine and is an immovable permanent fixture that can’t be removed. Because of this feature, it is an ideal choice for many businesses looking for long-term reliability, safety and stability. The most common components found behind a fixed guard usually include flying wheels, fans, blades or anything that has the potential to cause serious harm to the operator, therefore it’s imperative that it’s fixed in place for maximum accident prevention.
Depending on the type of equipment used, it can be made of various materials including sheet metal, plastic or hard wire – but it must be strong enough to handle the immense pressure and impact while in use. If servicing or maintenance is needed, the fixed guard must be dismantled before undergoing any repairs.
Similar to fixed guards, an adjustable guard can be modified to suit different sized items and materials to fit into the machinery. This enables the operator to manually adjust to specific configurations to match the task at hand, locking the mechanism in place for maximum safety.
Any employee who has access to equipment with adjustable guards must be fully trained prior to using it. Why is this important? If the guard is not sufficiently adjusted, it may expose the operator to moving parts, causing significant injury and harm.
Self-adjusting guards are flexible in nature and adapt to the movement of items moving in and out of the machine on it’s own. It is designed to create an opening big enough that allows for a certain type of product to pass through it – ultimately minimising the risk of potential harm to the person operating it. When the machine is not in motion, the self-adjusting guard returns back to its original position.
Anything that requires timber cutting or woodworking projects is where self-adjustable guards are most prominently used. If you’re concerned about the degree of protection this type of guard offers, we highly recommend speaking to the machine manufacturer who can instruct you on the best protective barrier to suit your operational requirements.
An interlocking guard automatically switches off when it is manually opened or tampered with, completing cutting off the mechanism at its power source. The only way the guard will continue working again is when the interlocking guard is restored back to its original position, allowing it to resume back to its normal start cycle. One of the advantages of using this type of guard is it allows the operator to open the machine/equipment to fix something or even clear up blockages. When this is done, the machine immediately ceases to operate - coming to a complete stop. As a result, a self-adjusting guard allows for easier machine access without having to disassemble or remove parts when making modifications or undergoing repairs.
In conclusion, all employees should be sufficiently trained before handling any type of heavy-duty machinery and workplace tools. It’s also advisable that regular maintenance, repairs and ongoing safety protocols are followed for maximum accident prevention.
For more information on the type of machine guard suitable for your workplace, please contact our team at Total Control Electrical on (02) 9639 5121.