What are machine guarding / safeguarding and lockout
There are many types of potentially hazardous energy moving through your business at any time including electrical, thermal, chemical, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and gravitational. These forms of energy must be locked out, blocked or released to ensure that machinery or equipment does not turn on or move during installation, repair or maintenance. Lockout/tagout refers to specific procedures and practices to protect employees from machinery or equipment starting unexpectedly and the release of hazardous energy.
Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe injuries such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Machine guarding / safeguarding measures, at or around a machine, are essential to protect workers from coming into contact with hazards. A machine part that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Machine guarding / safeguarding measures for machines provided by the manufacturer or the owner should not be removed or made ineffective (bypassed).
What the law says
Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers. Sections 25, 27 and 28 refer to duties and responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers.
Other applicable legislation (not necessarily limited to) applies as well:
- Industrial Establishments Regulation (Reg. 851):
- Section 12 (Premises)
- Sections 24 to 44.2 (Machine Guarding)
- Section 74 (Temporary Elevation)
- Sections 75 and 76 (Maintenance and Repairs)
- Sections 79-86 (Protective Equipment)
- Section 108, Ontario Regulation 213/9 (Regulations for Construction Projects - blocking)
- Section 37, Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Equipment Storage)
- Section 38, Ontario Regulation 213/91 (Blocking, support chains, wire rope, rigging)
- Section 108(2) Regulation 854 (specific to mining industry - unattended controls)
Check with your health and safety provider for additional information.
How having a machine guarding / safeguarding and lockout program can help your business
When hazardous energy sources are not properly controlled, serious injuries and fatalities can be the result. Therefore, it is important to have a machine guarding / safeguarding and lockout program to help you to ensure that all energies are properly locked out, and remain locked out until the work is completed. This will not only protect the well being of your employees, but also minimize any impact on your company's production, morale and viability.
What you can do
As an employer you should familiarize yourself with the legislation respecting machine guarding / safeguarding and lockout. Inventory machinery to review whether there are moving parts that could come into contact with the operator. Check manufacturer's information for guidance on appropriate machine guarding / safeguarding. Ensure that guards have not / are not removed. In certain cases, newly added machine guarding / safeguarding measures would require pre-start health and safety reviews.
Lockout/tagout procedures should include:
- Notification to all affected workers
- Machine equipment shutdown and isolation
- Application of lockout/tagout (assigned, individual lock)
- Verification of isolation
- Lockout/tagout interruption (for testing or repositioning)
- Release from lockout/tagout