The University of Iowa

Machine and Equipment Guarding Procedures

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates machinery, equipment, and mechanical power transmission apparatus that are commonly used in machine shops, maintenance operations and repair shops. Requirements for electrical safety, physical safety, and guards pertain to items such as abrasive wheel machines, belt guards on vacuum pumps, woodworking and metalworking machinery, lawnmowers, flywheels, shafts, belts, pulleys, and gears.
The following procedures, information, and resources will assist managers, supervisors, and operators in carrying out their responsibilities for assuring safety through hazard identification and evaluation, safeguarding, training, and safe operation of machines and equipment.

Contact information and areas of expertise can be found on the Contact Us page.

These procedures are intended to: 

  • Create an awareness of the hazards among the workforce.  
  • Standardize procedures for the use and care of machines and equipment. 
  • Provide a consistent format for training employees on the proper procedures for operating and using machines and equipment. 
  • Minimize the possibility of injury or harm. 
  • Demonstrate compliance with safety regulations. 

University of Iowa Policy Manual, Part III Human Resources, Division II Standards and Ethics, Chapter 16.4.d Policy on Ethics and Responsibilities for University of Iowa Staff.
General Industry Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, 29 CFR 1910, Subpart O.

  • Guards - Barriers which prevent access to danger areas. There are four general types of guards:  fixed, interlocked, adjustable, self-adjusting.
  • Pinch Points - Points at which it is possible to be caught between moving parts, or between moving and stationary parts of a piece of equipment.
  • Point of Operation - The point of operation is where work is performed on the material, such as cutting, shaping, boring, or forming of stock.
  • Power Transmission Device - The power transmission apparatus is all components of the mechanical system which transmit energy to the part of the machine performing the work. These components include flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks, and gears.
  • Operating Controls - A mechanical or electrical power control shall be provided on each machine to make it possible for the operator to cut off the power from each machine without leaving his position at the point of operation.

Deans, Directors and Department Heads are responsible to:

  • Designate and empower the department’s administrative Health and Safety Coordinator (or equivalent) and supervisors. 
  • Actively support these procedures within individual units. 
  • Ensure an environment where employees are encouraged to follow these procedures. 

Supervisors are responsible to:

  • Implement these procedures. 
  • Assure that staff is aware of this program, instructed on the details of implementation, and provided with training, personal protective equipment, and methods of control. 
  • Maintain documentation and records as required in these procedures. 

Employees are responsible to:

  • Comply with these procedures and any further safety requirements set by supervisors. 
  • Conduct assigned tasks in a safe manner, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and obtain training and/or information prior to using machinery and equipment. 

EHS is responsible to:

  • Provide procedural guidelines, educational offerings, administrative consultations and reviews, and select technical and field services.  
  • Exercise surveillance over health and safety issues at the University. 
  • Advise administration of the status of programs. 

All employees will successfully complete training prior to operating or using machines and equipment. The department will identify individuals needing training.
Initial training includes two components of general awareness training and operational training. 

General awareness training is offered online by the Environmental Health & Safety. These records are maintained by EHS and are available to the department.

  • Machine Guarding - W051OS
    • This course required initially and recommended annually. To finish your training requirement, you must also know specific information unique to your own work area. Use the Site-Specific Training checklist located within the course content to review site-specific training items with your supervisor or designated work area trainer.
    • Audience: Individuals working with stationary machines.

For further training and registration information, go to EHS Safety Training.

Operational training is provided by the employing department and records are maintained by the department.

Operational training should include:

  • A review of the department’s Machine and Equipment Guarding Procedures.  
  • Information and operational (hands-on) training for each machine and piece of equipment that will be used by the employee. 
  • Pre-operational procedures. 
  • Basic maintenance procedures. 
  • Appropriate use of personal protective equipment. 

PPE and Work Area Checks

  • Employees must locate and put on necessary and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for use with the machinery or equipment before beginning use.  
  • Employees must make sure that work areas are well-lit, dry, and clean before beginning work. Sawdust, paper and oily rags are a fire hazard and can damage machinery and equipment. 
  • Employees must change clothing or take off jewelry that could become entangled in the machinery or equipment they are to use. 

Machine and Equipment Checks

  • If a lock or tag is in place on a piece of machinery or equipment, it may not be removed and the machinery or equipment may not be used.  
  • Only qualified personnel may install or repair equipment. Employees must notify the supervisor if machinery or equipment is in need of any type of repair. 
  • Floor and bench-mounted machines and equipment shall be anchored or securely clamped to a firm foundation that will withstand lateral or vertical movement. 

Guard Checks

Machines and equipment with guards must meet these minimum general requirements: 

  • Be secure - Guards are not easy to remove or alter. Guards and safety devices are made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. Guards are firmly secured to the machine.  
  • Prevent contact - The guards prevent hands, arms, or any part of an employee’s body or clothing from making contact with dangerous moving parts or pinch points at the point of operation.  
  • Protect from falling objects - The guards ensure that no objects can fall into moving parts.  
  • Create no new hazards - If a guard creates a hazard of its own, such as shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface which can cause a laceration, then employees must not use the piece of machinery or equipment. 
  • If a guard is defective or damaged or in any way does not meet the requirements of these procedures, employees may not use the machine and must immediately notify their supervisor. 

 Operating Procedures

  • All necessary personal protective equipment is worn while the machinery or equipment is running. 
  • Employees must always use the proper piece of machinery or equipment for the job. 
  • Electric cables and cords must be kept clean and free from kinks.  
  • Employees may not remove a guard for any reason while operating any piece of machinery or equipment. 
  • If an employee is distracted or unable to focus on the work with the machinery or equipment, they must stop work with that machinery or equipment. 
  • Upon finishing with a piece of equipment or machine, basic maintenance must be performed. 
  • Problem equipment must be immediately reported to the supervisor so it can be repaired or replaced. 

Periodic reviews, or audits, are required to determine the completeness and effectiveness of the program or procedure.  A sample is available on EHS’s website. Each department or unit will conduct a self-review at least annually and maintain a record of such. The review may include a walk-through of the facility and interviews with employees to determine whether they are familiar with requirements and if safety measures are being practiced.  

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Program 
  • Hand and Portable Power Tools Procedures 

The University encourages a clear understanding of safe work practices and involvement from every level of the University. Involved individuals are encouraged to offer comments or seek assistance from the supervisor, the Department Health and Safety Coordinator, Department administrators, or the Environmental Health & Safety.