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MASC 2010: The importance of proper machine guarding


May 19, 2010
By Mary Del


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MASC 2010: The importance of proper machine guarding

Proper machine guarding is a safety precaution that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

That was the underlying message at the Machine Automation Safety Congress,  which was held from May 4-5 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. The show was one of four safety-related conferences taking place under one roof and was accompanied by the IAPA’s Partners in Prevention, Your Workplace 2010, and CANECT 2010.

The MASC portion of the conference featured 11 machine automation safety and safe guarding exhibitors, as well as a panel discussion on machine safety. The panel discussion, which was mediated by Andre Voshart, former editor of Manufacturing AUTOMATION, and Mari-Len De Guzman, editor of MA’s sister publication, Canadian Occupational Safety featured four panelists: Jeremy Warning of Heenan Blarkie, Wayne De L’Orme of the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Walter Veugen of Veugen Integrated Technologies, and John Murphy of Leuze Electronics.

Each speaker addressed a different aspect of machine safety, starting with Wayne De L’Orme who offered a unique insight into the severe ramifications of improper machine guarding. Of the 78,000 orders the Ministry of Labour filed in 2009, 4,000 were violations of section 24 and 25 which are industrial regulations.

“Machine guarding issues were the number one cause of fatalities in the industrial sector last year,” he said. “They were also the number one source of prosecution.”

Jeremy Warning presented the legal motivation behind proper machine guarding.

“For every $100,000 in fines, you’ll end up paying $25,000 in payables,” he said. To put that number into perspective, he presented a number of cases where companies not only lost employees due to a lack of proper machine guarding, but were hit hard by fines as well.

The most notable was an October 2003 ruling that saw the Ontario Power Generation pay $350,000 in fines after a fatal accident that saw an employee get caught in a conveyor due to a guarding violation.

John Murphy walked attendees through an effective safety audit. He suggested a five-step process – research, delegate, evaluate, plan and prepare. He also recommended getting everyone involved.

“Who should be involved? The operator? Definitely. Otherwise they’ll find a way to get around the safety guard,” he said. “You need to get the operator’s buy-in.”

Walter Veugen supported that notion and suggested getting companies like his, which offer guarding solutions, involved before the audit takes place.

“Sure, we can come in after the audit and fix problems then and there, but what about the next one?” he said. “What we try to do is help companies identify what a guarding problem is so they can prevent an accident at an earlier stage.”