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Why Guard?

In the UK, most equipment is guarded. Moving parts that could crush or amputate are covered up. Hot surfaces get lagged or caging applied to avoid burns. Why do we bother?

Because the government forces us?

Well yes, we do have legislation in the uk1 that require organisations to prevent access to dangerous parts. If you don’t, you are in breach of the law.

When I was visiting a factory in (some other country), they didn’t bother with all this guarding, they just had a sign up that said “don’t touch”. They say they don’t employ stupid people! Ha Ha. If only our government would trust us to do sensable things like that...

I remember meeting someone who expressed these sentiments. Is the reason we have this legislation purely because government thinks we can’t be trusted? Who would be stupid enough to put their hand in there?

A quick check of the HSE media page and I found three such occasions which were prosecuted in the last month, and that is with legislation forcing people to guard machinery. Just imagine how many more there would be if people didn’t.

Do you really thing only stupid people would get hurt?

That sign requires everyone gets it right every time. There is no margin for error. What happens if you are tired and not paying attention? What happens if someone shouts to catch your attention at the wrong moment? What happens if you trip on something and fall over on the machinery? What if it wasn’t even your fault, what if someone else trips and pushes you?

We put guards on things because they work when we muck up or others muck up on our behalf. If you have a lapse in concentration or trip and fall, the guard is there to ensure that you fall against something that isn’t going to do more damage.

If the guard is properly fitted, it doesn’t matter how bad a day you are having, the machine won’t make it much much worse.

  1. PUWER regulation 11
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