Osha regulations regarding safety requirements for rotating devices

Written by tamra spurlock
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Osha regulations regarding safety requirements for rotating devices
Fast-moving rotating devices can cause serious injury. (grinding lathe image by Anna Chelnokova from Fotolia.com)

Rotating machine parts create extremely hazardous working conditions. Hot, jagged, or sharp fast-moving parts can easily entangle clothing or body parts resulting in injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes to serious burns, amputations or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires guarding of rotating equipment to protect workers from needless injury. OSHA regulations for machines are found in 29 CFR 1910.212, General Requirements for All Machines. Regulations for power and hand tools are found in 29 CFR 1926.300, General Requirements.

Guard Location

OSHA requires guarding in three areas: the point of operation, energy transmitting components and other moving parts. Point of operation is the point where work is performed including the point of contact, in-running nip points, pinch points and shear points. Energy transmitting components include flywheels, belts, pulleys, spindles, cams, gears and couplings. Other moving parts are additional components of the rotating device that move along with the rotating device, such as feed mechanisms and reciprocating or transverse moving parts. OSHA requires one or more methods of guarding to protect employees from rotating device hazards.

Prevent Contact

OSHA regulations require guards to prevent contact between rotating devices any part of an employee's body. Access to moving parts can be blocked by barrier guards, two-hand tripping controls, restraint devices that restrict employee movements, gates and electronic safety devices.

Guards should prevent contact but not interfere with an employee's ability use the rotating device efficiently. OSHA 29 CFR 1926.300, General Requirements establishes maximum exposure areas for most common power and hand tools.

Secure and Strong

Employees should not be able to tamper with or easily remove rotating device safeguards. If possible, OSHA requires all guards be attached firmly to the rotating device. They must be secured as close as practicable to the rotating element if reasons prevent direct attachment. Metal is the preferred construction material because of its durability and strength. Plastic is sometimes used when higher visibility is needed.

According to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.219, wood guards may be used in certain industries when chemicals or extreme temperatures make metal guards impractical; they are prohibited in all other locations.

No New Hazard

Guards for rotating devices must ensure that other objects cannot contact moving parts and become dangerous projectiles. Guards cannot have jagged edges or unfinished surfaces that could create new hazards. Edges should be rolled or bolted.

Distance Rule

Rotating blades, pulleys, chain drives, belts, gears, gears and sprockets located overhead are subject to a distance rule. OSHA regulations require they be enclosed or guarded if they are located less than 7 feet above the walking surface. Guard or enclosure openings cannot exceed 1/2 inch.

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