Is it better to design and build or outsource machine guarding?


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When deciding whether it is better to design and build guards in-house or outsource machine guarding to a specialist company, there are several factors to consider. Guarding is important in that it protects workers, influences how operatives interact with the machine, and it helps customers, operatives and factory visitors to form their first impressions of the machine. In addition, guard needs to be designed, manufactured and installed in accordance with the applicable standards so that the machine fulfils the relevant essential health and safety requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC and can be CE marked.

Machine builders and those responsible for health and safety in workplaces do not always appreciate fully the above points. But get it wrong and a machine may need to be modified before it can be CE marked, or it could cause injury or even death; almost every month the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) reports yet another prosecution following an injury caused by inadequate guarding. In addition, poorly conceived guarding can restrict productivity and, consequently, profitability.

For machine builders wishing to undertake guarding in-house, Procter Machine Guarding, which is the UK’s leading machinery guarding specialist, has prepared various free publications and calculators:

Guide to Machinery Guarding Standards

Guide to the New Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC

White Paper: Machinery Directive and Fixings for Fixed Guards

Risk Assessment Calculator

Safety Distance Calculator

These can all be downloaded free from the safety guides page on the company’s website or they can be requested by emailing

However, whether machine builders are manufacturing one-offs or series machines, taking full responsibility for the guarding in-house often turns out to be more expensive than outsourcing it to a specialist company, and it can take longer. Furthermore, machine builders are not always as familiar with the guarding standards as designers employed by specialists, which runs the risk of the guards not being fully compliant with the standard or, alternatively, being over-designed. This is not only true for close-fitting machine guards, but also for perimeter guards, whether these are bespoke or assembled from off-the-shelf modular units.

Engineers who wish to discuss their options for outsourcing machine guarding can contact Procter Machine Guarding. If required, the company can provide a comprehensive service, covering everything from an initial site survey of the machine to the design, manufacture and installation of custom-designed machine guards. When necessary, Procter works closely with other suppliers to ensure that interlocking, light curtains and safety-related control systems function correctly in conjunction with the physical guarding. All of this can help machine builders to ensure that guards are cost-effective, ergonomic and standards-compliant so that the complete machine can be CE marked with the Machinery Directive.

Follow the link to download the free safety guides, or visit the website or contact the company to find out more about the option to outsource machine guarding. Email, telephone.

Sometimes it is appropriate to design and build machine guarding in-house, but on other occasions it is best to outsource machine guarding to a specialist”