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February 01, 2011
Machine Guarding: Types of Guards

Guards are barriers which prevent access to danger areas. There are four general types of guards:

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  • Fixed
  • Interlocked
  • Adjustable
  • Self-adjusting


A fixed guard is a permanent part of the machine. It is not dependent upon moving parts to function. It may be constructed of sheet metal, screen, wire cloth, bars, plastic, or any other material that is substantial enough to withstand whatever impact it may receive and to endure prolonged use. This guard is usually preferable to all other types because of its relative simplicity.


Provides a barrier.

Can be constructed to suit many specific applications.

In-plant construction is often possible

Can provide maximum protection.

Can be suitable to high production, repetitive operations.


When this type of guard is opened or removed, the tripping mechanism and/or power automatically shuts off or disengages, the moving parts of the machine are stopped, and the machine cannot cycle or be started until the guard is back in place.


Shuts off or disengages power, stops the moving parts and prevents starting of machine when guard is open; should require the machine to be stopped before the worker can reach into the danger area.

Can provide maximum protection.

Allows access to machine for removing jams without time consuming removal of fixed guards.


Adjustable guards are useful because they allow flexibility in accommodating various sizes of stock.


Provides a barrier that may be adjusted to facilitate a variety of production operations.

Can be constructed to suit many specific applications.

Can be adjusted to admit varying sizes of stock.


The openings of these barriers are determined by the movement of the stock. As the operator moves the stock into the danger area, the guard is pushed away, providing an opening which is only large enough to admit the stock. After the stock is removed, the guard returns to the rest position.


Provides a barrier that moves according to the size of the stock entering the danger area.

Off-the-shelf guards are often commercially available.

For more information on Machine Guarding, see this OSHA guideline.

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