What’s the Difference Between Machine Guarding and Machine Safety?


If you’re an owner of a manufacturing company or overseeing machinists, you’ve likely heard the terms “machine guarding” and “machine safety” a number of times. Although these terms are frequently used in conjunction with one another, it’s important to know the differences as you aim to help create a safer work environment. 

In this entry of Spotlight on Safety, we break down the differences between machine safety and machine guarding, and we also discuss the different components of machine safety. 

The Importance of Machine Safety

Machine safety refers to all the necessary parts of keeping your staff protected around your facility’s machines, including training, safety restrictions, and other protective protocols. 

Using optimal machine safety is critical for your workplace to avoid injury and death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that there are around 18,000 serious injuries caused by machining accidents, including crushing injuries, abrasions, lacerations, and amputations. The reason for many of these tragic accidents is a lack of proper machine safety. 

You need to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of your employees, and you can do this by equipping your facility with the right machine guarding equipment.  

What is Industrial Machine Guarding?

People often confuse the terms “machine guarding” and “machine safety,” but machine guarding is merely one of the different types of machine safety. Machine guarding is the physical barrier between a potentially hazardous machine and the rest of your manufacturing floor. These barriers usually use a machine safety fence or panels made from wire mesh. 

The machine guard fencing prohibits employees from going near hazardous machines. Additionally, these machine guarding panels and fences keep your machines’ moving parts from flying out into the manufacturing area, which could potentially injure an employee.

Machine perimeter guarding often utilizes safety switches. These switches send an alert if the door to the machine guarding opens, triggering the machine to stop. This protects employees from becoming injured when they’re within the machine perimeter. 

If your operation requires robust machine guarding to keep employees safe, you can invest in Folding Guard’s flexible and affordable Versa Guard Machine Guarding and Saf-T-Fence Machine Guarding. In addition to being highly functional, our machine guarding systems also look great, and they provide your employees with exceptional visibility, enabling them to monitor machines with ease. 

Your facility can place our Versa Guard Machine Guarding within eight inches of a hazard, meaning that you can use more of your floor space. Typically, machine guarding systems use 2 x 2-inch grid patterns that only allow installation within 33 ½ inches. With our 1 ¼ x 2 ½-inch grid pattern, you can have more open floor space without cumbersome fencing.
Saf-T-Fence Machine Guarding systems consist of three system heights, multiple styles of doors and over 30 pre-fabricated wire mesh panel sizes. All pieces assemble and install precisely and easily. You’ll enjoy worker safety, less downtime and compliance with federal safety regulations when you use Saf-T-Fence® to fulfill all of your machine guarding needs.

Other Components of Machine Safety

In addition to machine guarding, there are other important facets of machine safety that you need to incorporate into your business. In order to maintain a safe environment for your employees, your business needs to adopt the following procedures regarding machining: 


Training your employees to use your machines safely and effectively is crucial for your operation’s functionality and the well-being of your employees.  

You should never allow an employee to use a machine unless they are fully trained and have exhaustive knowledge of the machine’s components and safety standards. Without sufficient training, an employee may suffer serious or fatal accidents, including amputations and crushing injuries. 

When an employee is in the middle of learning a machine, they always need a trainer to supervise. The employee should only use the machine alone after their trainer or your safety team corroborates that they can use the device with the utmost safety. 


Even after an employee is fully trained, they must always stay alert. Distractions can cause devastating and permanently debilitating injuries. 

Your employees need to be 100% focused on the operations in front of them, and they must avoid potential distractions. Even something as seemingly minute as an employee daydreaming for a few seconds can lead to a life-changing injury. 


In addition to the protection offered by an effective machine guarding system, your machines should also have proper signage warning of potential dangers. 

All your employees and your facility’s visitors need to be able to read these signs, so make sure to feature the warning in all necessary languages. You may also want to consider having graphics on the warning signs to catch readers’ attention. 

Posting signage is also helpful when your machines require special personal protective equipment. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment — usually referred to as PPE — are critical for the safety of your employees when they use machines. Many moving components make up your machines, and these components have the potential to severely harm or kill your employees if there’s a mechanical glitch or human error. 

In addition to acquiring proper PPE, make sure your establishment maintains the equipment and replaces any old or malfunctioning pieces. 

Contact Folding Guard for Your Safety and Security Needs

If your facility needs machine guarding or other safety equipment, contact Folding Guard. Since our company started in Chicago in 1962, we’ve offered American businesses invaluable tools for protecting their employees and facilities. Learn more by calling us today at (800) 622-2214.