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Machine safety blitz: 6 questions to test your readiness

Machine safety blitz

Ministry of Labour inspectors will be taking a close look at how well workplaces are protecting machine operators and maintenance staff during its upcoming machine guarding blitz, February 1 to March 29. "Machine guarding hazards remain a top focus for inspectors because of the potential for catastrophic injuries and fatalities," says Rob Vomiero, WSPS Technical Specialist, Machine and Robot Safety.

Inspectors will check to see that employers are complying with legal requirements, and identifying and controlling machine guarding hazards. To help you prepare for the blitz, Rob has put together six questions to ask yourself now. If you answer "no" to any, your workplace should take action.

Learning from past blitzes

During a similar blitz last year, inspectors visited 694 workplaces and issued 3,777 orders and requirements, including 107 stop work orders - an average of 5.4 orders per workplace.

Inspectors checked specifically for:

  • safeguarding - did pinch points and other hazardous locations on equipment have safeguards in place? Had employers conducted a pre-start health and safety review (PSR) where required?
  • locking and blocking - were workers following lockout procedures to prevent machines from starting during maintenance and repair, and were machines blocked to prevent unintended movement?

Six questions to ask

Answering the following questions can help you pinpoint where you may be coming up short, says Rob.

  1. Are you fully familiar with machine guarding requirements set out in Regulation 851 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act? This includes Sections 24-44 (machine guarding), Sections 74-76 (maintenance/lockout), and Section 7 (PSRs).
  2. Do you assess equipment during monthly inspections using the MAC principle? Are there Moving hazards? Is there Access to moving hazards? Are there Consequences associated with accessing moving parts? Have you also considered exposure to indirect machine hazards (i.e., burns, chemicals, discharge of hazardous materials, noise, fumes, etc.)?
  3. Have you carried out risk assessments and prioritized hazards on each piece of machinery? How do you know whether equipment is already well guarded? "If it passes the AUTO test," says Rob. "In other words, you can't reach Around, Under, Through or Over the safeguard(s) to access the hazards."
  4. Have your safeguarding solutions been developed in accordance with CSA standard Z432-16-Safeguarding of Machinery, and/or other applicable standards?
  5. Do you understand what triggers a PSR of new or modified equipment according to Section 7? For example: If a new or modified apparatus involves safeguarding devices that signal a stop, like safety interlock switches, it will trigger the need for a PSR by a qualified engineer, and all measures for compliance to applicable legislation and standards must be implemented before start-up. (See below for information on WSPS's upcoming PSR Summit.)
  6. Have you documented everything? Inspections, risk assessments, PSRs, training, etc.

How we can help

These WSPS resources can help you prevent machine guarding incidents:

  1. Our first Pre-Start Health and Safety Reviews Summit, is taking place February 26 in Mississauga. Bring your questions and ask the experts to improve your PSR process.
  2. 6 brief machine safeguarding videos.
  3. Machine safety consultants, who can help you identify hazards, develop a machine guarding and lockout/tagout program, and deliver awareness training.
  4. Training. WSPS has partnered with CSA on two half days 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.