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Get ready for machine guarding inspections with these 6 tips

Get ready for machine guarding inspections

Machine guarding hazards are the focus of the latest Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) inspection blitz, which will take place from February 17 to March 31. With 2,829 lost-time injuries in 2017,* "some employers may have a lot of work to do to eliminate or control risks related to machinery," says WSPS Machine Safety Specialist Michael Wilson.

To prevent injuries, as well as avoid prosecutions and fines, Michael recommends concentrating on six key areas that directly address the findings of previous inspection initiatives. "Inspectors issue orders for many of the same issues every year," he notes.

2019 initiative results

Last year inspectors conducted 737 field visits and issued 2,998 orders (an average of 4 per visit), including 98 stop work orders. The most frequent orders were for failing to

  • maintain equipment, materials and protective devices in good condition
  • prevent access to a moving part
  • prevent access to an in-running nip hazard
  • thoroughly examine a lifting device
  • provide worker and supervisor training
  • take every reasonable precaution to protect workers' health and safety

Michael's tips below cover essential areas where employers are having difficulty.

  1. Understand the legislative requirements for machine safety. These appear in Regulation 851 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including Sections 24-44 (machine guarding), Sections 74-76 (maintenance/lockout), and Section 7 (pre-start health and safety reviews).
  2. Conduct a risk assessment. Look at the equipment, identify hazards, and understand how people may interact with the equipment. "This will help you determine the best solution," says Mike. "If the guarding solution isn't well thought out, people may bypass or remove it altogether because it's not working for them."
  3. Get to know the standards, including CSA Z432-16-Safeguarding of Machinery and CSA Z460-13, Control of Hazardous Energy, and other applicable standards. "The legislation sets out what you have to do while the standards offer solutions on how to get it done." Learn what safeguarding options are available and how to apply them.
  4. Train operators and maintenance staff. Make sure employees understand why the safeguards are in place. This information often comes with manufacturers' instructions. Remind employees that if a guard is damaged or not working properly, they need to speak to their supervisor, a member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) or the health and safety representative.
  5. Inspect your equipment monthly. Is the guarding being maintained? Is it functional? Have people made adjustments that would render the guards ineffective? "If the guard has been damaged, modified or bypassed, find out why that was done and address the concern," says Mike. Be sure to check electrical cords and hoses for damage.
  6. Document everything. Inspectors may want to see JHSC inspection reports, risk assessments, pre-start health and safety reviews, training records, etc. "If it's not in writing, it never happened," says Mike.

How we can help

Here are some WSPS resources that can help you prevent machine guarding incidents:

  • Machine safety consultants, who can help you identify hazards, develop a machine guarding and lockout/tagout program, carry out a risk assessment, and deliver awareness training.
  • 6 brief machine safeguarding videos.
  • Training. WSPS has partnered with CSA on two half-day sessions on robot and machine safety, and two full-day sessions on machine and robot safety. We also offer training on lockout/tagout and much more.
  • 2 WSPS Safety Connection sessions on the machine safety inspection initiative, January 30 in Newmarket and February 5 in Vaughan. These 2-hour information and networking sessions are offered at no cost.



* "Inspection initiative results: Machine guarding," Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development;