This guiding principle is intended to provide general safety guidance for power-driven and manually operated stationary machines/equipment, which are used to shape and/or form metal, wood, or other materials by cutting, impact, pressure, electrical or other processing techniques. Such machinery present a number of potential hazards which must be recognized and controlled, in order to minimize the risk of operator injury. Hand and portable powered tools are beyond the scope of this guiding principle.


There are numerous potential hazards involved in the operating of machines and equipment. Some of the most obvious recognized hazards are from machine motion. Hazardous motion is characteristic of the point-of-operation of the machine, but can also be found in other areas such as: behind, on the side of, or above a machine.

  • Rotating motion of collars, couplings, cams, clutches, flywheels, shaft-ends, set screws, spindles, etc., can be dangerous by gripping clothing or forcing arms/hands or other body parts into dangerous positions. Rotating parts can also create nip points when two adjacent moving parts are in close proximity (e.g., two cogs, two rolling bars, chain and sprocket, etc.) or a rotating part is in close proximity to a fixed point.
  • Reciprocating machine motions are also hazardous. A worker may be injured by back-and forth or up-and-down motion when struck by or caught between moving and stationary parts (e.g., saw blades, knives, etc.).
  • Transverse machine motion (movement in a straight, continuous line) is another recognized hazard because a worker may be struck or caught in a pinch or shear point by moving parts.

In addition to machine motion, examples of other machine hazards may include:

  • Chemical hazards resulting from the product being handled (e.g., toxic fumes emitted from metals, wood dusts, etc.) or the machine itself (e.g., contact with or inhalation of cutting oil mists or cleaning compounds, etc.).
  • Ergonomic factors, such as: stresses put on the body from awkward positions, repetitive motions, excessive reaching, vibration, heaving lifting of materials or products, etc.
  • Fire due to dust accumulations, electrical sparks or arcs, hot surfaces, open flames, etc.
  • Tissue damage caused by contact with extremely cold or hot parts of the machine or material being manipulated.
  • Excessive noise, which can cause hearing loss or interfere with the ability to communicate during machine operation.
  • Eye or skin damage caused by contact with UV light, particularly with machines using laser technology.
  • Eye damage caused by foreign objects emitted from the machine (e.g., dust particles, shavings, sparks, etc.)
  • Potential for injury resulting from dropping or ejection of a work piece from the machine during operation.

Safe operation of machinery and equipment necessitates that all foreseeable hazards are controlled. Effective control is achieved through a risk assessment process.


  • Only work with machinery that you are authorised and instructed to use.
  • Use certified/inspected industrial machinery that is in full working order.
  • Ensure that guards and safety devices are in good working order and never disable them.
  • Test the emergency switch on fixed machines before starting work.
  • Never carry out emergency repairs yourself , report defects immediately and label ‘do not use’.
  • Switch off machines after use.
  • Wear the necessary protective equipment (PPE).

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Guiding principle machinery safety introduction

Machinery Safety