Contact with Machinery

In 2018, 786 workers died due to contact with objects and equipment; 374 of them were from contact with machinery. Workers across the country use machines and equipment that present a variety of hazards, such as amputation, crushing, electrocution, burns, and lacerations.

Examples of hazardous machinery include:

  • Mechanical power presses
  • Powered and non-powered conveyors
  • Roll-forming and roll-bending machines
  • Table, portable, and band saws
  • Drill presses
  • Milling machines
  • Shears, grinders, and slitters

Identifying potential physical or health hazards in a comprehensive hazard assessment is the critical first step to addressing hazards. One way to do this is by completing a Job Safety Analysis or JSA to identify and control hazards.

Hazardous Energy Release 

Uncontrolled energy can cause serious injury and death. Last year, OSHA cited a manufacturing company after an employee died while performing maintenance on machinery that unexpectedly activated. lockout tagout on machine

Common causes of accidents when workers are performing service or maintenance of equipment:

  1. Not all actual or potential energy sources are identified.
  2. Safe work practices were not established for when energy is present.
  3. Deactivated energy sources are reactivated mistakenly, intentionally or accidentally without the maintenance worker’s knowledge.

OSHA requires a Written Energy Control Program to make sure equipment that need servicing or maintenance are properly isolated from their energy sources and identified as out of use. An energy control program has three core components: energy control procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections. In the above example, the employees were not adequately trained in the energy control procedures, or lockout-tagout procedures.


One potential solution for hazardous contact with machinery, is Lockout-Tagout (LOTO). This is a procedural solution used during the servicing and maintenance of equipment when an unexpected startup or the release of stored energy could harm workers. This utilizes devices to physically stop the movement or release of hazardous energy and ensure that equipment remains inoperable. Tagout is the use of a warning device, or tag, to identify the equipment as out of use.

OSHA provides additional resources and recommendations for LOTO.

Machine Guarding

Last year, OSHA cited an asphalt plant after an employee was pulled into an unguarded conveyor and fatally pinned. Accidents like these are preventable when machines are used with proper safeguards.

The purpose of machine guarding is to protect themachine guarding on lathe operator and other employees in the area from hazards created by nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. Guards include barrier guards, light curtains, and two-hand operating devices. Safeguards must meet these general minimum requirements:

  • Prevent contact with hazardous moving parts
  • Be made of durable material and be firmly secured to the machine
  • Protect objects from falling into moving parts
  • Create no new hazards
  • Allow for safe lubrication

Hands are often at the greatest risk because they are what we use to do work. For more about hand safety, read Give Hand Safety a Helping Hand.

Personal Protective Equipment

When selecting PPE, make sure that it is designed to protect against the hazards associated with the task. Many different types of PPE are available and tailored for specific job tasks, such as:

  • Impact-resistant or electrically insulated gloves
  • Impact-resistant or electrically insulated hard hats
  • Arc-flash suits
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Welding masks

Wearing the right PPE for the job is important. For more on PPE requirements, check out The Cost of Not Providing PPE.

Utilizing the right tools such as a LOTO procedures, guards and PPE can reduce the potential of contact with machinery. If there is contact, these can reduce the likelihood for and severity of injuries. Safety requirements vary for each facility, job task, and piece of machinery or equipment but there are effective ways to keep workers safe. Utilizing these tools can protect workers and keep businesses operating in the black.

ReSolve can provide experienced safety specialists to inspect your job site for hazards and make site specific recommendations to reduce your risk. We also provide OSHA compliant training that can teach your employees to recognize hazards. Contact us for additional information.

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