GuardSmart 138 – Educating Workers on Mechanical Hazards and Safeguarding


Educating Workers on Mechanical Hazards and Safeguarding

Even the most elaborate safeguarding system is not effective unless workers know how to use it and why. Education and training are important tools for informing workers and managers about workplace hazards and controls so they can work more safely and be more productive.


Educating employees on what mechanical hazards are, and the various safeguarding methods used to eliminate or minimize that hazard, are crucial parts of properly training workers to work safely around mechanical equipment.


The onus falls on the employer to provide specific and detailed training that teaches employees to:Worker bent-over near conveyor hazard
  • Recognize when equipment needs guarding, including identifying  the pinch-points and/or rotating hazards located in their work-space;
  • Identify machine safeguards themselves and how they provide protection, and the hazard for which they protect against;
  • How to use the safeguards and why;
  • How and under what circumstances safeguards can be removed, and by whom (in most cases, repair or maintenance personnel only);
  • Know what to do if a safeguard is damaged, missing, or unable to provide adequate protection.
This kind of safety training is necessary for new operators and maintenance or setup personnel, when any new or altered safeguards are put in service, or when workers are assigned to a new machine or operation.


According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. This includes providing proper machine safeguards, safe work procedures and adequate health and safety training.


Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. Employers, supervisors, and workers all have responsibilities to make sure work is performed safely.


Your Stories:
Brenda Deitrich’s only child Jared died as a result of a workplace incident. Jared was 19 years old. It was his second day working in a plastic recycling plant. He was working alone on an oven conveyor. His hand got caught between the edge of the conveyor and a table, pulling him in. Dietrich questions why Jared was not able to free his hand, why the cut-off switch was located six feet away, why he was working alone on his second day on the job and why the machine was not properly guarded. 


Helpful Links & References
Occupational Safety & Health Administration |Chapter 1 – Basic of Machine Safeguarding
Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990 |
Workers Health and Safety Centre Federation of Ontario | Machine Safeguards: access denied |

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