We talk a lot on this blog about safety: how to maintain a safe work environment, why safety is important to productivity and the longevity of your company, and different factors that contribute to safety in manufacturing facilities. Today, we’re going to do a deep dive into one of the most important safety measures that can be utilized in any manufacturing facility: machine guarding.
But what IS machine guarding? Strictly speaking, machine guarding is a physical barrier between the manufacturing floor and a moving machine, designed to prevent workers from coming into contact with hazardous moving parts. Machine guarding is necessary in a manufacturing setting when robotics or moving parts are in play, and can prevent potential accidents or even loss of life. Without machine guarding, serious injuries can and do occur. No employer wants to see their employees’ safety put at risk, so machine guarding is a necessary action to take in any manufacturing setting.
There are many different kinds of machine guarding (light curtains, drill press guards, etc.), but we’re going to focus on what is perhaps the most versatile form: barrier guarding. Barrier guards typically come in the form of wire mesh fencing, and can be adapted to suit the different specifications of the machines they guard. Wire mesh fencing offers safe visibility that ensures that the machine’s parts can be seen even while they are being blocked. When installed properly, machine guarding will never be a detriment, either visually or physically, to the efficiency of one’s work. The robotics can work continuously and unimpeded by workers entering and exiting their space, and workers can feel more secure and therefore work more efficiently knowing that they are safe from any rogue machines. Machine guarding increases efficiency by diminishing downtime and improving the workflow of your manufacturing facility.
Some employers worry that machine guarding will be too bulky or take up too much space on their floor, but certain kinds of machine guarding have narrow enough gaps in the wire mesh that they can be installed closer to the hazard than others, allowing for diminished use of floor space. Additionally, some worry that maintenance of the machines will be too difficult with large fences installed around them, but there are machine guarding systems that are built for this, with easy-to-install and uninstall posts and brackets, making maintenance a breeze. Your risk assessment team can determine which machine guarding system is right for you, whether it’s a barrier system, a light curtain or a combination of both. They can also determine the distance necessary between the machine and the guarding system, mesh size, interlocks of doors, etc. Let your risk assessment team decide what machine guarding system best fits your needs, and install it. Basically, there’s absolutely no reason NOT to protect your employees by putting up machine guards: they can only make your operation more safe and efficient.
Speaking of maintenance, it’s important to always maintain your machine guarding and make sure it’s being taken care of. Keep up with repairs for any damages the machine guarding system may sustain from the machines it protects, as well as addressing any natural wear and tear. This will prevent weakening of the machine guarding system over time, and ensure the continued safety of your employees.
So, why IS machine guarding important? To maintain the safety of your employees and the efficiency of your manufacturing facility, installing machine guarding is one of the most effective steps you can take.
To find out more about the different types of machine guarding that Folding Guard offers, click here!