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Machinery & Machine Guarding, General Industry – Regulation 29 CFR 1910.212

Enforcement from October 2021-September 2022

Total citations: 1,452

Total inspections: 1,301

Total proposed penalties: $11,402,392

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking–Number 10

Industries most often violating machine & machine guarding requirements in general industry:

  • Manufacturing: 1,139 violations, 1,016 inspections, $8,362,001 in proposed penalties
  • Wholesale Trade: 94, 86, $931,535
  • Retail Trade: 53, 48, $1,207,438
  • Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: 31, 28, $154,719
  • Other Services (except Public Administration): 24, 22, $262,146 81
  • Public Administration: 21, 19, $0
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting: 17, 15, $31,613
  • Accommodation and Food Services: 15, 14, $34,148
  • Transportation and Warehousing: 23, 22, 236,702
  • Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction: 7, 7, $40,765
  • Construction: 6, 6, $29,888
  • Educational Services: 5, 2, $0


Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

Amputation Prevention

Amputations are among the most severe and disabling workplace injuries that often result in permanent disability. Although these types of injuries are not frequent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics they resulted in workers taking a median of 31 days away from work to recover in 2018. (The median recovery time for all types of injuries in 2018 was 9 days away from work.) Work-related amputations resulted in 6,200 cases with days away from work in that year, and machinery was involved in 58 percent of those amputations. Amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses and milling machines—as well as shears, grinders and slitters.

Primary Safeguarding Methods

Two primary methods are used to safeguard machines: guards and some types of safeguarding devices. Guards provide physical barriers that prevent access to danger areas. Safeguarding devices either prevent or detect operator contact with the point of operation or stop potentially hazardous machine motion if any part of an individual’s body is within the hazardous portion of the machine. Both types of safeguards need to be properly designed, constructed, installed, used and maintained in good operating condition to ensure employee protection.

Criteria for Machine Safeguarding

  • Prevents employee contact with the hazard area during machine operation.
  • Avoids creating additional hazards.
  • Is secure, tamper-resistant, and durable.
  • Avoids interfering with normal operation of the machine.
  • Allows for safe lubrication and maintenance.


Guards usually are preferable to other control methods because they are physical barriers that enclose dangerous machine parts and prevent employee contact with them. To be effective, guards must be strong and fastened by any secure method that prevents the guard from being inadvertently dislodged or removed. Guards typically are designed with screws, bolts and lock fasteners and usually a tool is necessary to unfasten and remove them. Generally, guards are designed not to obstruct the operator’s view or to prevent employees from doing a job.

In some cases, guarding may be used as an alternative to lockout/tagout because employees can safely service or maintain machines with a guard in place. For example, polycarbonate and wire-mesh guards provide greater visibility and can be used to allow maintenance employees to safely observe system components. In other instances, employees may safely access machine areas, without locking or tagging out, to perform maintenance work (such as machine cleaning or oiling tasks) because the hazardous machine components remain effectively guarded.

Guards must not create additional hazards such as pinch points or shear points between guards and other machine parts. Guard openings should be small enough to prevent employees from accessing danger areas.

Types of Guards

Fixed: Provides a barrier that allows for stock feeding but does not permit operator to reach the danger area. PROS: can be constructed to suit many applications, permanently encloses the point of operation or hazard area, provides protection against machine repeat and allows simple, in-plant construction, with minimal maintenance. CONS: Not always practical for changing production runs involving different size stock or feeding methods, machine adjustment and repair often require guard removal.

Adjustable: Can be adjusted for a variety of production operations. PROS: Can be constructed to suit many applications and to admit varying stock sizes. CONS: May require frequent maintenance or adjustment, operator may make guard ineffective.

Self-Adjusting: A barrier that moves according to the size of the stock entering point of operation. Guard is in place when machine is at rest and pushes away when stock enters the point of operation. PROS: Off-the-shelf guards are often commercially available. CONS: Does not provide maximum protection; May require frequent maintenance and adjustment.

Interlocking Barrier Guard: Shuts off or disengages power and prevents machine start-up when guard is open. Should allow for inching of machine. PROS: Allows access for some minor servicing work without time-consuming removal of fixed guards. CONS: May require periodic maintenance or adjustment; Movable sections cannot be used for manual feeding; some designs may be easy to defeat and interlock control circuitry may not be used for all maintenance and servicing work. WMHS


Access OSHA’s Machine Guarding eTool at: for information on how to recognize and control common amputation hazards associated with the operation and use of certain types of machines.


Automation Direct: 800-633-0405

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