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Updated, streamlined machine safety standard released: What you need to know

Portrait Of machine operator in a red helmet, safety goggles, hearing protectors and work uniform.

Michael Wilson, WSPS Senior Health and Safety Consultant, is particularly pleased with the 2023 version of CSA Z432, Safeguarding of machinery, which was released earlier this year. “The material in the 2023 standard features a more logical flow, updated information, and more clarity for users on how to select the most effective safeguards for their equipment.” 

What is CSA Z432?

CSA Z432 is a voluntary standard that outlines requirements for the design, manufacture, installation, maintenance, operation and safeguarding of equipment to prevent injuries and incidents. This is the 4th edition of the standard, replacing the 3rd edition published in 2016, says Michael.

Michael supports the technical committee that reviews the standard on a five-year cycle and makes recommendations for improvement. With feedback from the technical committee and the public, CSA has rejigged the 2023 version considerably. Material has been reordered, added, and enhanced to make this version of the standard the best yet.

What hasn’t changed is the starting point for any decision about safeguarding: a risk assessment. Below, Michael talks about the standard’s risk assessment process, and what changes to look for in the 2023 edition. 

Risk assessment key to choosing safeguards 

“The risk assessment process is the cornerstone of this and other machine safety standards,” says Michael. “It’s impossible to select effective guarding without first determining what hazards exist at each piece of equipment and what tasks are being done on the machine – operational or maintenance – that could expose workers to those hazards.”

The risk assessment should be done with input from key partners within the organization with the goal of determining the best safeguarding strategies for every task and hazard identified.

“Do not overlook maintenance tasks,” says Michael. “They often pose different and higher risks because certain tasks cannot be completed using lockout.” For example, a maintenance worker may have to troubleshoot a problem with the system powered on. “How do we protect that person as well?”

A comprehensive flow chart is included in the standard outlining the criteria for performing risk assessments and the steps that should be included. “This helps to ensure that whatever risk assessment method you select is covering all the bases.”

Once the risk assessment is carried out, users can look at the risk reduction measures in the standard to determine which will be most effective. “If you’ve decided that a fixed guard will protect workers, for example, the standard will tell you what characteristics that guard should have to be effective.”

Changes to look for in the 2023 version

The biggest change in the 2023 version is the flow of information. “The flow now mirrors a common safety concept, which is to address risks using the hierarchy of controls,” says Michael.

“As you move through the standard, you’ll find clauses on what your safeguarding strategy should look like, followed by insights into the risk assessment. The balance flows as the hierarchy would,” says Michael.

The hierarchy outlines ways to control hazards in order of their effectiveness: 

  • elimination – physical removal of the hazard

  • substitution – using a safer alternative to the source of the hazard

  • engineering controls – control access to the hazard or physically restrict workers from reaching the hazard

  • awareness means –  such as warning signs

  • administrative controls,– such as procedures and training

  • personal protective equipment (PPE)

“With machine safety, the higher level control measures, like design measures and engineered safeguarding, are needed to bring equipment into compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act,” Michael notes.

What’s the benefit of aligning the standard with the hierarchy of controls? “The hierarchy is a foundational concept in health and safety,” says Michael. “Presenting information related to machine safeguarding in this way creates a consistent approach to controlling risks.”

The 2023 standard also includes an expanded flow chart, which provides a visual representation of how the risk reduction process works. Other changes in the standard relate to guard openings, emergency stop devices, and considerations for change management.

“Users can get a more in-depth look and understanding of the changes by attending WSPS’ new training course,” says Michael. 

How WSPS can help

WSPS machine safety and robotics experts can improve your understanding of hazards and their associated risks in your workplace, and work with you to identify effective safeguarding options to protect worker safety. Connect with a consultant today.


  • NEW! Safeguarding of Machinery: Understanding & Applying CSA Z432 (1 day, classroom). Developed in partnership with CSA, this course guides participants through the 2023 edition of CSA Z432 Safeguarding of Machinery and is delivered by WSPS machine safeguarding specialists. Each participant receives a free copy of the new standard.

  • Managing Machine Safety (3.5 hours, classroom). This course covers the key principles of machine safeguarding and helps participants recognize, assess and control risks.

Other resources

The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.