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Machine guarding and how to use it comply with the OHS Act

by , 11 May 2015
If your employees work with machines like circular saws, sanding or grinding machines, you'll be interested to know how important the safety of your machines is.

You have to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and make sure your machines are guarded so you cover the risks of having your employees injured.

An employee injured by an unguarded machine can cost you thousands in medical claims!

When we talk about machine guarding, the best definition would be that of a safety feature you put on your machine or equipment.

By law, you must ensure your machines are properly guarded and safe to use (Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act)). It can be a shield or device that covers the dangerous part of a machine. It prevents you from touching the hazardous area, and protects you from possible debris.

Warning! The Department of Labour (DoL) can visit your workplace at any time and inspect the safety of your machines. If an accident happens because you don't have the right machine guarding, you could face prosecution and get a fine, or be sent to prison for up to six months. If you still disobey the regulations, you may get a daily fine or spend one day in prison for each day you don't comply. This fine lasts up to 90 days. After that, the DoL can shut down your business (DMR Section 19).

There are the eight types of general machine guarding! Make sure your machines have at least one of these guarding devices!

1. Design:
Check the design of your machine guards to reduce any dangerous movable parts that you can see.

2. Enclosures, covers or barricades:
Put these up to stop your employees from touching the dangerous parts of your machine.

3. Remote tripping or starting devices:
The operator must be a safe distance from the machine before it can start. This is why you need a remote to trip or start your device.

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Four more types of machine guarding

4. Interference with tripping or starting devices:
This device prevents the machine from starting until the operator's hands are out of the danger zone.

5. Stopping continued machine motion:
If your employees hands are in the danger zone after the machine starts, the device will prevent or stop the machine from operating.

6. Automatic means to remove hands from danger zone:
Use mechanical devices that pull, push or sweep the operator's hands away.

7. Automatic feeding devices:
These prevent your operators from having to manually feed the stock and puts them out of the danger zone.

8. Location:
Make sure your machine is positioned in a location that prevents employee injury. This is a type of guarding because it's safer if your employees can't reach the machine.

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