How T-Slot Machine Guarding Creates a Safer Workplace

T-slot machine guarding can improve the safety of your manufacturing facility—it protects both workers and the equipment they operate, preventing injuries and damage.

What is a safety guard, and what makes extruded aluminum guarding—particularly t-slot systems—an especially useful solution?

In this guide, we’re breaking down the basics of machine guarding, common materials used for safety guards and a few varieties to consider for your facility.

What is a Safety Guard?

A safety guard is a physical barrier that protects workers from preventable, severe injuries caused by equipment and power tools, including:

  • Burns
  • Blindness
  • Crushed fingers or limbs
  • Slips and falls

But safety guards also protect the equipment from workplace hazards like:

  • Falling or floating debris
  • Workers bumping the machinery while they walk
  • Water or other liquids

Imagine a barricade on a highway undergoing construction. A barricade protects drivers and their vehicles from accidentally hitting equipment, materials or workers. But it also protects these elements—machinery, supplies and employees—from harm.

Manufacturing facilities, woodshops and other work areas that use heavy machinery have a responsibility to protect the safety of their workers, but they also want to protect their costly equipment investments. Safety guards can accomplish both.

Machine Safeguarding Requirements

In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains machine guarding standards for a variety of sectors, including:

  • General Industry
  • Maritime
  • Construction
  • Agriculture

In addition, 22 states impose OSHA-approved machine safeguarding requirements.

OSHA identifies three potential areas where machine safeguards may be required—based on the type of equipment in place:

  1. Point of operation guarding, where employees perform work on the material being processed by the machine
  1. Power transmission device guarding, where the machine draws energy (for instance, a generator, furnace or electrical outlet)
  1. Operating controls guarding, where workers remotely control the machinery, materials or other tools

Guarding requirements can be complex—consult your industry-specific guidelines or contact OSHA to ensure compliance and protect workers at risk.

Common Guard Materials

Machine guards are made from a variety of materials, including:

  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Composite or recycled materials

No matter which material you choose, you must ensure that your machine guard is correctly installed, doesn’t cause additional safety risks and will withstand an accident. For instance, if you work in a facility that forges metals, a wood safety guard is probably too flammable to install around your forge.

Metal safety guards are generally a safe, versatile and cost-effective options for manufacturing facilities. Aluminum, for instance, can be tempered to increase its performance under high heat or intense cold or finished to increase its durability.

Types of Machine Guards

Machine guards come in all shapes and sizes. Some varieties include:

  • Fixed guards attached to a surface or the machine
  • Interlocking guards that attach to specific machine latches or notches
  • Adjustable guards that can be modulated based on machine settings or materials used
  • Self-adjusting guards for fully-automated machinery

T-slot machine guarding is often a sensible choice—it can be designed and assembled to achieve any of the configurations above, and it’s highly customizable, helping you ensure industry-specific compliance throughout your facility.

Create Safety Guards Using Extruded Aluminum From Orange Aluminum

Machine guarding is part and parcel of any industrial or manufacturing facility’s safety infrastructure—it protects both workers and their equipment from hazards, keeping employees a safe distance from high-powered machinery and covering fast-moving or vulnerable parts.

Look no further than Orange Aluminum for all your safety guarding needs. Our expert team can help you design a customized, modular machine guard system for your facility. Aluminum framing systems are simple to install, cost-effective and—most importantly—protect your workers and equipment from harm.

If you’re overhauling your workplace safety plan or need a guard for the various moving parts of your machinery, contact us today.  

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