What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is the first line of defense in ensuring the health and safety of workers operating machinery and equipment. It prevents harmful contact with hazardous moving parts or unsafe conditions.

Note: While there can be overlap with De-energization and Lockout, De-energization and Lockout applies when workers conduct repairs and maintenance on machinery and equipment. De-energization is the removal of hazardous energy from machinery or equipment before using lock(s) to render machinery or equipment inoperable or to isolate an energy source. Visit De-energization and Lockout for more information.

Common types of safeguards

  • Guards, safety devices, shields, awareness barriers, restraints or shut off mechanisms. These should be supported with administrative controls such as signage, training, and safe work procedures.
  • Alternatives, such as interlocks, two-hand controls, and electronic presence sensing devices (light curtains, pressure sensitive mats, etc.) may also be in place or necessary.
  • Typical guards: Fixed, Distance, Movable, Adjustable, Interlocked, Self-closing
  • Note: Required guards must meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and standards.
    • Installed manufacturer’s guarding must not be removed during operation. It may be removed for maintenance purposes, but must be re-installed according to instructions prior to any use.

Note: It is very important to review tools, equipment, and machines imported to BC as they may be compliant in their location of origin, but not in BC. For instance, they are sold without a guard in the USA, but require a guard in BC.

Information on “Guardrails” can be found in Fall Protection.

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What are some common hazard points?

  • Snagging and entanglement risks: Single rotating parts (shaft couplings)
  • Pinch/Nip points: Two or more parts rotating together (rolls and V-belts, pulleys drive chains)
  • Shearing or crushing hazards: Parts that slide or reciprocate (dies in punch presses)
  • Impact risks: Parts that can rupture or fragment (abrasive wheels)
  • Guarding may be necessary to protect workers from occupational exposures to illness such as airborne substances, heat, noise vibration, radiation, biological hazards, etc.

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How can I identify and assess risks?

  • Inspect work tasks and equipment regularly to identify exposed hazards that an individual can come into contact with, and evaluate and document the risk assessment and procedures
  • An unsafe tool, machine or piece of equipment must be removed from service and identified in a manner which will ensure it is not inadvertently returned to service until it has been made safe for use.
  • If an unguarded pinch point is identified, assess the risk of injury based on probability, exposure duration, and consequence severity.
  • Consult the manufacturer’s specifications before purchase, to verify it meets local requirements .
  • PPE must also be evaluated for risk of entanglement and worn when appropriate for the task, as any loose material (from clothing, gloves, etc.) may pull the person’s hand into a pinch point.
  • Guards and other safety devices in place must be communicated to the workers so they are knowledgeable of the use and limitations.

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What are some control measures for hazardous unguarded points?

  • Investigate supplier options for new guards or new/alternative equipment
  • Investigate developing guarding in-house
  • Mark pinch points to alert workers of the hazard
  • Review training and procedures with operators, including correct PPE for the task.

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Resources and support

If you have any questions on safeguarding at UBC, contact Safety & Risk Services.