Skip to main content

Machine Safeguarding Fact Sheet


Crushed hands and arms, severed fingers, blindness, etc. are part of a list of possible machinery-related injuries. A good rule to remember is that any machine part, function, or process which may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be either controlled or eliminated.

Applicable Regulations

OSHA Regulations:

  • 29 CFR 1910.211 -Definitions
  • 29 CFR 1910.212 -General Requirements for all Machines
  • 29 CFR 1910.213- Woodworking Machinery
  • 29 CFR 1910.215- Abrasive Wheel Machinery
  • 29 CFR 1910.216- Mills and Calenders
  • 29 CFR 1910.217- Mechanical Power Press
  • 29 CFR 1910.218- Forging Machines
  • 29 CFR 1910.219- Mechanical Power-Transmission Apparatus

Summary of Requirements

One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.

  • Guards shall be affixed to the machine where possible and secured elsewhere if for any reason attachment to the machine is not possible. The guard shall be such that it does not offer an accident hazard in itself.
  • Whenever engineering controls are not available or are not fully capable of protecting the employee, operators must wear personal protective equipment.


Specific and detailed training is a crucial part of any effort to provided safeguarding against machine-related hazards. Thorough operator training should involve instructions or hands-on training in the following:

  • A description and identification of the hazards associated with particular machines;
  • the safeguards themselves, how they provide protection, and the hazards for which they are intended;
  • how to use the safeguards and why;
  • how and under what circumstances safeguards can be removed, and by whom; and
  • what to do if a safeguard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide adequate protection.

This kind of safety training is necessary for new operators and maintenance or setup personnel, when any new or altered safeguards are put in service, or when workers are assigned to a new machine or operation.


All safeguards provided meet the minimum OSHA requirements.

  • The safeguards are firmly secured and not easily removable.
  • The safeguards prevent workers hands, arms, and other body parts from making contact with dangerous moving parts.
  • Special guards, enclosures, or personal protective equipment have been provided, where necessary to protect workers from exposure to harmful substances used in machine operations.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:

Written 5/98
Reviewed 3/04

Back to Top