Even the most elaborate machine safeguarding system cannot offer effective protection unless the worker knows how to use it and why. Specific and detailed training is, therefore, a crucial part of any effort to provide machine safeguarding against machine-related hazards. On-the-Job Training (OJT) is the most effective how-to training method for training machine guard safety.
When workers get injured from exposure to moving parts, a high percentage end up fatalities. It’s important to make the training serious and “memorable.” Thorough operator training should involve instruction or hands-on training in the following:
- a description and identification of the hazards associated with particular machines;
- the machine guards themselves, how they provide protection from specific hazards;
- how to install, inspect, use, and maintain machine guards;
- how and under what circumstances machine guards can be removed, and by whom (in most cases, repair or maintenance personnel only);
- what to do (e.g., contact the supervisor) if a machine guard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide adequate protection; and
- the serious and fatal consequences of failure to use safe work practices when working around moving parts.
This kind of safety training is necessary for new operators and maintenance or setup personnel, when any new or altered machine guards are put in service, or when workers are assigned to a new machine or operation.
How to Get the Point Across
To get the point across and make the training memorable, you should emphasize the serious or fatal consequences of failure to follow safe work practices. Here’s a couple of ideas:
- A graphic video about a fatal accident can be quite effective in getting the message across to employees. When employees are affected emotionally by an experience in training, they will more likely remember the message.
- A story of an actual accident, how it happened, and what would have prevented it, can also be very effective. Here is an example below:
A paper mill employee was killed after he became entangled in a rotating shaft at the company’s paper mill. The worker, employed at the company for less than two weeks, was buffing the shaft when his clothing got caught on the rotating bolt heads of the shaft.
Protective Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment
Using engineering controls to eliminate the hazard at the source offers the best and most reliable means of machine safeguarding. Therefore, engineering controls must be the employer’s first choice for eliminating machine hazards. But whenever engineering controls are not available or are not fully capable of protecting the employee (an extra measure of protection is necessary), operators must wear protective clothing or personal protective equipment.
If it is to provide adequate protection, PPE must be:
- appropriate for the particular hazards;
- maintained in good condition;
- properly stored when not in use, to prevent damage or loss; and
- kept clean, fully functional, and sanitary.
It is important to note that protective clothing and equipment can create hazards.
- Protective gloves can become caught on or between rotating parts.
- Loose-fitting shirts might become entangled in rotating spindles or other kinds of moving machinery.
- Jewelry, such as bracelets and rings, can catch on machine parts or stock and lead to serious injury by pulling a hand into the danger area, or amputating fingers.
- Always arrange hair, including beards, so that it does not hang free. Workers have literally been scalped or killed when their hair has been caught in rotating parts.
Fatalities associated with rotating parts are gruesome. NEVER work around rotating parts without proper guarding. Enough said.