Machine Safety in the Workplace: Big or Small, Operate With Care

From toasters to tractors, machines are everywhere. Everyone uses them. And because of this, they pose a high risk when used improperly and in an unsafe manner. Because of the extremely large number of different types of machines this article will focus on general safety measures.

All workers should be properly trained on any machines they will becoming in contact with, and this training should be monitored by a competent worker or supervisor, with the employer being ultimately responsible. Machines are extremely dangerous, because they often large and heavy, have a lot of power, and often moving parts. But the biggest risk comes from inappropriate and unsafe operation.

Besides deaths, machines can cause amputations, crush injuries, severe cuts, head trauma, blindness, and hearing damage.

General Machine Safety Recommendations

  • Obtain proper training specific to the machines that will be used.
  • Some large machines may require a license to operate. Employers are responsible for making sure this is adhered to.
  • Maintain machines in good working order, e.g. blades, belts, electrical cords.
  • Do not operate a machine other than in the environment intended, e.g. in rainy conditions, do not operate an electric mower on a wet lawn, do not use a fume producing machine in a closed area, etc.
  • Always check manufacturer's recommendations for more information.
  • Use personal equipment: hard hats, safety goggles, work gloves, steel toed safety boots/shoes, brightly colored vests, hearing protection, breathing barriers/filters.
  • Do NOT wear lose clothing as it may get caught in a moving part.
  • Long hair should be tied up and kept under the hard hat so that it will not get caught in a moving part.
  • All machines should be regularly inspected by a competent worker. If any faults are discovered the machine should be put out of service until it is repaired. For example, backing-up beeping signals, mirrors, warning lights, on vehicles.
  • Know where the emergency button is on all machines, and test it periodically.
  • If the machine requires lubrication make sure it is maintained so it will work properly.
  • If fuel is required make sure it is stored in a safe manner.
  • Do not smoke near machines.
  • If there are fumes operate in a well ventilated area, or use a breathing filter.
  • If maintenance is required turn off the machine and remove from the power source – if it uses electricity.
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