Machine Safety: Serious machine guarding issues

Improper machine guarding is the result of... what? Could it be that there’s no universal cause for serious machine guarding issues? See below, six sources of machine safety issues.


"Improper machine guarding is the result of … ? Oh, do you mean that there’s no universal cause for serious machine guarding issues?"


The situation posed by the above statement deserves considerable sober thought in my opinion. People in and serving industry all too often over look this stage of thought and go directly to situational engagement. Why?


Let’s take a little deeper look. My 45+ years of experience as an end user, systems integrator, automation supplier, machine safety solutions supplier and safety standards consultant tells me that many machine safety issues stem from:

Six sources of machine safety issues

  1. Incomplete knowledge of requirements
  2. Business practices lack a safety focus or priority
  3. OSHA only regulates the end user and not the manufacturer
  4. Production rules allowing safety to be bypassed
  5. Improper attitudes like – we haven’t had an accident in 20 years so we’re safe
  6. and, financial limitations


Number five reminds me of a situation when a machine operator told me not to worry because he was faster than the machine. Well, all of this comes to mind recently because I’ve just read an excellent article written by Chris Soranno, Safety Compliance Manager for Omron STI, titled “Five Serious Machine Guarding Problems.” This paper was published by ASSE in its February 2012 Professional Safety publication, and Chris’ five problems touch several of the issues above. My point is to illuminate this subject, broaden the perspective and to gather additional experiences concerning the issues.


We all know that considerable chatter has been in the air for the past 10 years concerning machine safety. This chatter comes from innovative new technology based guarding solutions and updated domestic and international standards. Also, it’s now acceptable to openly talk about machine safety. And, we’re seeing numerous best-in-class testimonials touting bottom line advancements and reduced injuries.


So perhaps we’re beginning to see the beginning of a paradigm shift in the safety culture of industry.

Do you see this as well?


Has this presented you with any new perspectives? Add your comments or thoughts to the discussion by submitting your ideas, experiences, and challenges in the comments section below.


J.B. Titus, CFSE

Related articles:

Five Serious Machine Guarding Problems by Chris Soranno of Omron STI, Professional Safety, February 2012

Inside Machines: Does adopting ISO 13849-1:2006 change the U.S. model for compliance and enforcement?

Machine Safety – does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?


Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

BRIAN , OH, United States, 03/02/13 10:35 AM:

OSHA is now training Compliance Officers on current ANSI and NFPA standards at OCI. A presentation I heard in March 2012 by an OSHA official was largely focused on ANSI standards and Control Reliability.
Brian Huber
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