8 Must-Know Machine Guarding Definitions to Better Protect Workers

The Machine Guard Standards developed by OSHA are not only required but are crucial to protecting workers from serious injury. Unfortunately, machinery doesn’t discriminate between product and people – it will do the same to both. OSHA reports more than 690 fatalities per year, more than 137,600 lost workday injuries per year and around 1,400 amputations per year due to contact with objects and machinery.

Understanding these standards and the safeguarding options designed to help prevent accidents will enable you to create a safe work environment.

Machine Guarding can be defined as a safety feature either on or around engineering-related equipment consisting of a shield and/or device that covers hazardous areas. Some examples of common machine guarding solutions include automated barrier doors, automated curtains, retractable curtains and screens, and safety fencing. All of these solutions help to prevent your workers from suffering work-related injuries.


To help better understand the terminology used within machine safeguarding, we’ve put together a glossary of terminology used throughout the standards of Machine Guarding. Feel free to check out our Machine Guarding Safety Tips to learn more about machine guarding!

Machine Safeguarding Terminology:

Point of Operation

Defined as the point at which the actual activity is taking place, the point of operation is the most common area for a hazard to occur.

Power-Transmission Apparatus

The components of a machine that involves energy, such as pulleys, belts, chains, and gears.

Other Moving Parts

All parts that move while the machine is operating, such as reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts as well as lead mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.

Emergency Stop Devices

Emergency stop devices are designed to be used in reaction to an incident or hazardous situation. These are not considered to be machine safeguarding as they stop hazardous motion once the hazard has been recognized, not detecting or preventing an actual hazard from occurring.

Safe Holding Safeguarding

Also known as Safe Work-Piece Safeguarding, this is the process of keeping an operator’s hands away from the part of the machine where a hazard may occur. An example of safe holding safeguarding is requiring one hand be placed on the work-piece while the other operates the machine, staying completely clear of the hazard area.

Work-Holding Equipment

Used to hold a work-piece in place during the machine cycle’s hazardous portion, work-holding equipment keeps the operator’s hands away from the hazardous area. Examples include clamps, jigs, fixtures and back gauges.

Feeding and Ejection Systems

Both feeding systems and ejection systems can be used to protect employees by minimizing or eliminating the requirement for them to be in a hazard area during motion. Examples include gravity fed chutes and semi-automatic/automatic feeding and ejection equipment.

Hand-Feeding Tools

Used to feed and remove material into and from machines, keeping the operator’s hands away from the point of operation. Note that this can only be done while utilizing guards/safeguarding devices as they are not a point-of-operation guard alone.

Having a good understanding of these standards and the safeguarding options designed to help prevent accidents will enable you to create a safe work environment, help you to make the best safety decisions, educate workers, and pick the right machine guarding safety solution for your unique application.

Further reading: Blog: Machine Guarding Safety Tips

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