Machine Guarding Owned by the Operator


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This popular quote is NOT directly from a Bible verse. The quote comes from The Common Growth by M. Loane published in 1911. Either way, I love this quote. This applies to so many things in life. I would always choose to learn how to create my desired outcome over being just handed the outcome for the short term.

How does this relate to machine guarding assessments in your facility? In 3 decades in industry, I have received lists of issues by many “so called experts”. These lists, though full of safety issues that needed correcting, were only a snapshot in time of my ever-changing facility. These endless lists of repairs created nothing more than a burden for the facilities group to tackle with no operational ownership.

So, what if we could perform plant-wide machine guarding assessments differently? Yes, the first pass is going to hurt. But what if we develop a way that, after that, we fix as we go. Or better yet, design better from the beginning, and adjust while the machines are being installed.

What if the area group leader/supervisor/cell leader works through each of their own areas with me during the assessment so that I can teach them to see what I see? This creates an educated leader that can be on constant watch for potential hazards. They then train their operators to do daily/weekly sweeps of the area looking for hazards. With the supervisor performing routine spot checks and openly discussing findings with the trilateral operations team©, this will cement the culture of safety expectations for their own team’s protection.

The assessment of process machines, work areas and material handling equipment would be managed with a focus on protective guarding effectiveness, nip/pinch point protection, trip/protrusion point, fall hazards, entrapment, and exposure. These areas should be observed while the operators, maintenance personnel, and quality assurance personnel are performing work in the area. Each group has a distinct set of tasks to perform and therefore interacts with the space differently. A final report can be customized to suit customer needs.

By: Jeff Hall

Jeff Hall is a senior Facilities / Engineering Leader with 3 decades of real-world skilled trades, capital project management and facilities optimization success.

Tags: Machine , Guarding ,

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