Environmental, Health and Safety Services


General Machinery and Equipment Hazards

Several general types of hazards exist on many types of machinery. Shop and machine users must be provided protection from these hazards.Exposed Belt

  • Point of Operation: refers to the area where work (e.g. cutting, shearing, shaping, boring) is performed on a stock material. Some machinery, such as table saws and bandsaw have point of operation guarding that must be in place during operation.
  • Nip or Pinch Point: refers to an area other than a point of operation where a belt contacts a pulley or one or more rotating parts come together where it is possible for a part of the body to get nipped or pinched by the moving parts. Machinery with rollers are a prime example of nip/pinch points.
  • Power Transmission: refers to areas where power is transferred from one part to another such as a drive shaft, belt, or chain. Belts, pulleys, flywheels, rotating parts etc. must be guarded to prevent entanglement and amputations. Older machinery is notorious for not providing this type of guarding.

Rules for all Machines

The owner's or operator's manual must be in the shop area with the machine. A standard operating procedure indicating safety features and their appropriate use must be made available to the user.

The area of operation must be free and clear of obstructions. Space must be provided between each machine and other objects, including other machine operating areas, as needed, to allow safe operation of the machine.

A general checklist for all machinery is available here.

Older Equipment

One issue with older shop equipment is that it may not have appropriate guarding when compared to newer standards and design requirements. Machine guarding issues are not grandfathered by OSHA and must be addressed before the machine is used. Check with the manufacturer first to see if a retro-fit kit is available. If so, it will be up to the department to purchase and install it. If a retro-fit kit is not available, a guard may have to be manufactured and installed. In general, the guard must sufficiently cover the hazard without creating an additional hazard. EHS can provide general recommendations, if necessary.

LOTOMachinery that is no longer used by a department should be removed from site. Older machinery typically has insufficent guarding or other issues that would prohibit safe use and must be secured by a positive means to prevent accidental use while it remains onsite. "Positive means" would include placing a "Do Not Use" tag on the machine that specifies the problem (ex. missing guard) and applying an energy isolating device and lock on the cord-and-plug, or cutting the plug off of the machine to prevent someone from using the machine easily.

Machine Specific Information

Machinery and equipment must be inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations. This information, along with safety-related guidelines, can be found in the operator's manual. If a manual is not available, the manufacturer should be contacted to obtain one. Many manufacturer's post manuals on their websites as well.

Some machine-specific checklists and guidelines are available below.