Monday, November 06, 2006

Work equipment - guards

Guards are put in place to keep people away from moving parts and to contain ejected hazards. Where guards cannot be used some other controls may be possible (e.g. keeping people away from the danger zone using barriers, procedures etc.)

A fixed guard is attached to the machine and forms a physical barrier between person and hazard. They may be attached in a way that requires a special tool to remove. They are simple but can restrict use of the equipment. OK to use when removal is infrequent.

Interlocked guards can be moved to a position that does not provide protection, but the interlock stops the machine and does not allow it to be started unless the guard in is the correct position. In some cases the guard cannot be moved whilst the machine is running.

As well as deciding between fixed and interlocked, the design and materials of construction need to be considered. For example:

* Strength (to withstand ejected items)
* Rigidity (so cannot be deformed and hence bypassed)
* Durability
* Visibility of user to job at hand
* Clearance to allow job to be set-up
* How it is fixed to the machine
* Ventilation to allow heat or fumes to escape (without allowing access)

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