Guards and Health & Safety
Protective guards on machinery and equipment can greatly assist in the prevention of injuries and accidents caused by part of a person's body accidentally coming into contact with dangerous parts of the machine. These parts can be dangerous for one or more reasons, including being sharp, being hot, being extremely cold (e.g. cryogenic storage), having a risk of entanglement, trapping or crushing to name just a few.
However, whilst guards can greatly improve the levels of health and safety within a workplace, if they are poorly designed or implemented incorrectly then they can actually contribute and increase the risks to workers, which completely goes against the reasons for having them at all.
As a guard will be there to prevent contact between the danger area and part of a person's body, a number of guards will partially block or obstruct the view of the operator which may make them more likely to make a mistake and have an accident. Many guards will only partially prevent the opportunity for incidents, as for example in a disc cutter there needs to be a gap to get the wood or other material to the blade which a person could still put their fingers through. A guard which prevents clear sight may force the operator to get their eyes or fingers closer to the blade in order to carry out the work, with the subsequent increased risk of injury.
Guards which are in place on machinery involved in industries such as food preparation or medicine production will require regular cleaning and sterilisation, otherwise they risk introducing harmful bacteria into the products if this was allowed to grow unchecked on the guard. The material that the guard is made out of will also play a part in overall health and safety either to the operator of the equipment or to the consumer purchasing the finished product. If it is not strong enough to cope with the strains and stresses placed on it then it may be unfit for purpose. If the guard reacts with the material or ingredients being processed it could contaminate or damage them.
The protective guard must not interfere too much with the cooling of the machinery. Although measures such as meshing will affect the cooling to a small but acceptable degree, too much of an affect may cause the machine to overheat with the subsequent risks of fire and explosion that could ensue.
Although not relevant to most types of equipment, guards added to portable machinery may significantly add to its weight and/or dimensions. This can increase the potential for manual handling related injuries caused by the lifting, carrying and moving of the equipment.
Guards which are loose or are not fitted correctly to machinery which vibrates or has high speed rotating parts my cause excessive noise which could damage the hearing of the operator and those nearby, especially if they are exposed to it over a long period of time.
The safe use of work equipment including the importance of protective guards are covered in health and safety training courses such as the NEBOSH Diploma, NEBOSH General Certificate, NEBOSH Construction Certificate and CITB SMSTS and SSSTS courses. Please use the tabs at the top of the page to find out more information regarding these courses.
Need an Accredited Course?
Along with designing bespoke health and safety training programmes, we also run the accredited NEBOSH, IOSH and ConstructionSkills (CSkills) health and safety courses as open courses at selected venues across the UK, as well as in-house for those companies who have a number of employees requiring the training, as it will be much more cost effective than sending them all onto a scheduled open course.
For more information please call 0115 984 9940 to discuss the options or send us an online contact form. Alternatively, use the "Courses" menu at the top of the page to view the courses and qualifications for the various awarding bodies.
These courses form the basis for our in-house training programmes. They can either be run as they are if the outline is exactly what you want, or can be be modified to suit the individual requirements of your organisation. Two or more can also be combined to tailor a bespoke training session for you.
Please click on a course title to find out more about what each one entails: