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We’ve all had the experience of doing what we thought was a favour for someone, only to have it rejected or unappreciated. I suppose if machine guards were human they would experience this type of frustration frequently.

While the basic motive for guarding is to protect, not prohibit, guards are often looked upon by employees as obstacles. However, guards wherever they are and whatever they are . . . are placed for protection.

Machine guards are used to protect against direct contact with moving parts. There are also guards designed to protect against flying chips, kickbacks and splashing of metal or harmful liquids.

While guards may appear to be a hindrance, they’ve made large contributions to both security and production. Greater machine speeds have been made possible through proper guarding.

Two types of guards are used to protect machine operators and probably most of you have been involved with one or the other. These are fixed guards and interlocking and gate guards.

Fixed guards are most commonly used and are preferred over others, the obvious reason being that the fixed guards protect you from dangerous parts of machines at all times. Fixed guards may only be adjusted by authorised persons.

Interlocking guards are used if a fixed guard is not practical. This type will not allow the machine to operate until dangerous parts are unguarded. The interlocking guard is designed to disconnect the source of power from the machine. Safety devices such as pullbacks, sweeps and electronic devices are used where neither a fixed nor interlocking guard can be used satisfactorily.

Safety devices are operated by the machine itself. When this type of guard is used on a machine that is loaded and unloaded by hand, the operator must use hand tools. It is important that everyone working with or around machinery understands the generally accepted safe procedures for this type of work. No guard shall be adjusted or removed unless permission is given by their supervisor.

In addition, no machine should be started without guards in place. If you see that guards are missing or defective, report it to your supervisor immediately. When guards or safety devices are removed for repair or adjustment, the power for the machine should be turned off and the main switch locked and tagged.

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