Thursday, March 20, 2014

Understanding CSA Standards Related to Machine Guarding


One of the common questions that we encounter is what are CSA Standards and how are they used for machine safeguarding?

The Canadian Standards Association ( develops standards for a variety of products, activities and industries including machinery and machinery safeguarding.  CSA Standards are developed by a cross functional group that represents all concerned parties (labour, end users, manufacturers, regulators).

Another question we get is are the CSA Standards the law?  The answer is no.  CSA Standards for machine safeguarding establish the recommended minimum level of protection for operators and bystanders.  CSA Standards become the law when they are referenced in provincial legislation.

In Manitoba we are governed by the Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations.  Manitoba Regulation 217/2006 Part 16 deals with Machines, Tools, and Robots.  Section 16.5(2) states: An employer must ensure that any safeguard required under this Part is designed, constructed, installed, used and maintained with CSA Standard Z432-04 Safeguarding of Machinery.

This now makes conformance with CSA Z432-04 part of the law.  And it’s important to note, this is not the only CSA Standard referenced in the law.  The inevitable next question is how to do this?  That is where we spend a lot of our time helping our customers.  At the CSA website you can purchase and review any standard including CSA Z432-04.  A quick review of the standard sometimes surprises people because it is not a “how to” manual to safeguard a specific type of machine (like a drill press), but it does outline the process to follow for safeguarding all equipment.

Some of the critical elements of CSA Z432-04 are:

Risk Assessment: The Standard outlines a requirement to perform a risk assessment.  Often a skipped step, which usually results in issues down the line with the performance and feasibility of the safeguard.  A risk assessment is performed to ensure all hazards have been identified, current controls have been reviewed, improvements to the safeguarding have been proposed and the reduced risk examined.  They are best done with a cross functional group to ensure thoroughness.

Performance Requirements: The standard outlines how safeguards shall be designed and how they shall perform to be compliant.  When safeguards have been selected there are certain requirements to ensure that they will perform properly.  An example would be the requirement that barrier fence guards are free of sharp edges.

Application Requirements: The standard outlines how safeguards shall be applied.  It explains when they are installed how they should work.  An example would be the requirement for barrier fence guards to have a maximum spacing from the bottom of the fence to floor of 6”.

This is not a complete list of what is in the standard, but some of the highlights.  There are a lot more items covered in the standard.

A way to participate in standards development is to become a member of CSA and help develop a standard.  We have become Associate Members of standards and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us.  Kristin is a member of CSA Z432-04: Safeguarding of Machinery and Mike is a member of CSA Z142-10: Code for Power Press Operation.

Posted by Kristin Petaski at 5:09 PM 0 Comments
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