What Are the Different Types of Machine Guards?

Machine guards are physical barriers or devices designed to protect workers from machinery's dangers and are essential in any industrial setting that utilizes machinery. The purpose of machine guards is to prevent accidents and injuries caused by moving parts, flying debris, or other hazards associated with machinery operations. Machine safeguards come in various forms and are tailored to the specific requirements of different machines and applications.

The following sections will explore the different types of machine guards, general safety precautions they must adhere to, and how they contribute to operational safety in various industries.

Machine Guard Safety Standards

Machine guards must comply with established safety standards to ensure their effectiveness and reliability. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the guidelines for machine guarding under the General Industry Standards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart O). These standards outline the requirements for designing, installing, and maintaining machine guards to ensure they provide adequate protection for workers.


Types of Machine Guards

Several types of machine guards exist, each designed to address specific safety needs. The most common types include fixed guards, interlocked guards, perimeter guards, trip device guards, and presence-sensing guards. Each type of guard offers unique features and benefits, making it suitable for different machinery and working environments:

  • Fixed Machine Guards: Fixed machine guards are permanently attached to the machine and remain in place during operation. They are the most common type of guard and are suitable for machines with no moving parts that require frequent adjustment or access. Fixed guards are made of robust materials such as metal or polycarbonate and are designed to withstand impacts and prevent unauthorized access to dangerous areas.
  • Interlocked Machine Guards: Interlocked machine guards are designed to automatically shut down the machine when it is opened or removed. This type of guard is best for machines that require frequent access for maintenance, adjustments, or material loading. Interlocked guards ensure that the machine cannot be operated until it is securely in place, preventing accidental startup and minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Adjustable spacers: These can be repositioned to accommodate for non-stock machine guard sizes.
  • Perimeter Machine Guards: Perimeter machine guards are designed to restrict access to the entire perimeter of a machine or work area. They typically consist of fences, railings, or barriers that prevent workers from entering hazard areas. Perimeter guards are often used in robotic work cells, automated assembly lines, or areas with multiple machines operating simultaneously.
  • Presence-Sensing Machine Guards: Presence-sensing machine guards utilize sensors to detect the presence of a person or object in the vicinity of a machine's hazard area. These sensors can be based on various technologies, such as light curtains, laser scanners, or pressure-sensitive mats. When the presence of a person or object is detected, the machine is automatically stopped. Presence-sensing guards effectively protect people and prevent accidents caused by human error or inadvertent access.
  • Power Transmission Guards: Power transmission guards are designed to protect operators from the hazards associated with power transmission components, such as gears, chains, pulleys, and belts. These guards enclose or cover the moving parts to prevent accidental contact and entanglement. Power transmission guards are crucial in industries that utilize heavy machinery, such as manufacturing, automotive, and mining.


How to Choose the Right Type of Machine Guard for Your Operations

Selecting the appropriate type of machine guard is crucial to protect workers and ensure the efficiency of your operations. The right machine guard should mitigate hazards while allowing for necessary access and maintenance. Follow these steps to choose the most suitable machine guard for your specific needs:

  • Identify the machine and its associated hazards: Assess the type of machine and its function. Identify potential hazard areas, such as moving parts, pinch points, or flying debris.
  • Evaluate the frequency and nature of access required: Determine how often operators need to access the machine for operation, maintenance, or adjustments, considering the type of access needed, such as full-body, hands-only, or tool-only access.
  • Review operational requirements and constraints: Assess the machine's operating speed, size, and production requirements. Consider space limitations or integration with other equipment.
  • Conduct a risk assessment: Identify the severity and likelihood of potential injuries and prioritize hazards based on their level of risk.
  • Consult with experts: Seek guidance from professionals on machine guarding safety tips. Review relevant industry standards, such as OSHA or ANSI, for specific requirements and best practices.

Managing workers' safety is paramount in any industrial setting. Machine guards are vital safety barriers in preventing accidents and injuries caused by machinery hazards. Employers can create a safer working environment and protect their employees by understanding the different types of machine guards, adhering to safety standards, and selecting the appropriate guarding solutions.


Engineered for Safety, Built for Your Business

At Axelent, we understand the importance of safety in industrial settings. Our mission is to provide top-quality safety equipment that protects your employees and your business. Focusing on warehouses, manufacturing, and automation, we offer a wide range of solutions to meet your specific needs.

Our flagship products include machine guarding and safety fencing, designed to separate personnel from dangerous machinery. Whether you're working with conveyor lines, welding applications, warehouse automation, or manufacturing robots, our modular fencing systems can be customized to fit your space and requirements. We also offer various door options that can be integrated with your automation system, providing secure access points for personnel and equipment.

We strive to make safety less intimidating by providing informative content and user-friendly solutions. With various product offerings and a focus on quality, we aim to be your go-to partner for industrial safety equipment. Trust Axelent to help you create a safer, more efficient workplace.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are machine guards used for?

    Machine guards protect workers from the hazards associated with moving machine parts, flying debris, and other dangers. They serve as physical safety guards between the worker and the machine, preventing accidental contact and minimizing the risk of injury.


  • What are the OSHA requirements for machine guarding?

    OSHA sets the guidelines for machine guarding under the General Industry Standards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart O). These standards outline the requirements for designing, installing, and maintaining machine guards to ensure they provide adequate protection for workers.


  • What happens if an employer fails to comply with machine guarding standards?

    Failure to comply with machine safeguarding standards can result in citations and fines issued by OSHA. Penalties can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity and frequency of the violations. Non-compliance can also lead to workplace accidents, injuries, and legal liabilities.

Related articles

Find more resources and Knowledge

What is an Impact Barrier? Enhancing Warehouse Safety and Protection

This guide will help you determine what is an impact barrier, it's importance in your workplace,...

What is a Safety Bollard? Your Guide to Industrial Safety

Safety bollards are an essential part of industrial and warehouse safety. Use this guide to learn...

What is the Purpose of Machine Guarding? Exploring the Benefits of Effective Safety Solutions

Keep people out or keep robots in?

Selecting the appropriate safety measures, including guard fencing, requires a thorough risk asse...

Experience Axelent Safety Design logo

Take a look at our new drawing application Axelent Safety Design - the simple way of designing safety

Discover simplicity with our intuitive drawing application, perfect for effortlessly crafting safety layouts. Safety Design offers a comprehensive range of products, from machine guards to pedestrian barriers, covering all aspects of safety in machinery and warehouse environments. Embrace a safer workspace with Safety Design, where safety meets simplicity.