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OSHA's requirements for machine guarding

Plant employees in Texas often spend a lot of their time operating machinery. For this reason, OSHA has machine guarding requirements meant to keep industrial workers safe while on the job. With movable machines, employers are required to provide some type of guard. Barrier guards, electronic safety devices and two-hand tripping devices are among the many options available.

Proper machine guarding doesn't prevent all potential hazards, but it may provide added protection against injury risks related to sparks, rotating parts and flying chips. OHSA requires many different types of machines to be fitted with appropriate guarding devices. In addition to milling machines and power saws, guillotine cutters, shears, portable power tools, jointers and foaming rolls are some of the many machines that need to sufficiently guarded where specific tasks are performed, referred to as the point of operation.

OSHA also requires that the right guard matches be used. For instance, self-adjusting guards need to be used with jointers. With certain industrial machines, like mechanical power transmission apparatuses, what OSHA calls the 7-foot rule applies. This means hazardous operations must be guarded or enclosed if they are within 7 feet of a working platform or floor. OSHA reports that guarding violations are common. Floor and wall exhaust fans, in particular, are frequently non-compliant. Some oversights also occur when machinery repairs are made and safety and guarding devices aren't replaced or put back onto the machine that was fixed.

An industrial worker accident attorney may get involved with guarding oversights if an employee is injured on the job and unable to collect workers' compensation benefits. If the reason for a rejected claim is lack of sufficient evidence suggesting that an employer was responsible, a lawyer may look for documents showing previous OSHA violations specific to machine guarding to show a pattern of a lack of compliance.

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