Since most machines and processes are different, a risk assessment must be done for each machine, and possibly before each use. In some cases it is advisable to involve the manufacturer in addition to people with expertise in areas such as engineering and safety. Hazards associated with working on or near machinery vary depending on the exact machine used but can include exposure to:

  • Moving Parts
    • impact
    • crushing
    • cutting
    • shearing
    • stabbing
    • puncturing
    • friction
    • abrasion
    • entanglement
    • drawing-in
    • trapping
  • Energy
    • Electrical
    • Magnetic
    • Electromagnetic
  • Heat or Cold
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Radiation
  • Gas or Liquid Under Pressure
    • injection into body
    • ejection onto body
    • explosion of substance
  • Psychosocial Hazards
    • work-related stress
    • bullying and harassment
    • lone or remote working
    • violence in the workplace
    • fatigue
    • alcohol and drug use


How do I work safely with machinery?

Each piece of powered equipment should be assessed using the following process:

  1. Understand how the machine is designed.
  2. Understand how to use the machine safely.
  3. Identify all tasks performed by and associated with the machine:
    • What hazards may occur from use and misuse of the machine?
    • What moving parts and corresponding safeguards are currently in place?
  4. Identify who will be using the machine, and how often the machine will be used.
  5. Determine what materials are used with the machine
  6. Estimate the risk of each hazard by considering the:
    • Severity of possible injuries and or incidents, and
    • Probability or likelihood of occurrence.
  7. Eliminate the hazard(s) where possible.
  8. Use protective measures to control the risk of each hazard including considering:
    • the design,
    • safeguarding and protective devices,
    • administrative controls, or
    • other measures.
  9. Re-assess to estimate the new risk level.
  10. Repeat the process if the risk level has not been eliminated or effectively controlled.







Identify the use and limits of the machine by considering:

  • production rates and cycle times
  • intended use of the machine
  • types of materials being used
  • forces generated
  • range of motion of moving parts
Identify how much space the machine needs to safely operate for all tasks being performed by and on the machine, including access for maintenance and repairs.
Identify the life expectancy of parts and fluids as a result of wear and tear
Identify the environmental limits of the machine (e.g., operating temperatures, humidity, noise, etc…)
Consider how the machine interfaces with other machines, equipment, and energy sources
Consider all tasks the machine performs, and is performed on the machine during its use

  • trial runs
  • regular operation
  • tool changes
  • scheduled maintenance
  • un-jamming and recovery from crashes
  • unscheduled maintenance
Consider tasks associated with different phases of the machine’s life

  • start-up and programming
  • loading, packing, transporting, unpacking
  • decommissioning and disposal
Mechanical Components
At the point of operation, identify the following:

  • what parts move
  • the range of motion of moving parts
  • the type of motion (e.g., rotation, shearing, bending, cutting, punching)

Note – the point of operation refers to the area of the machine where useful work is performed. Typically this point is where an operator has contact with the machine.

Identify how power is transmitted to the machine

  • hydraulic
  • pneumatic
  • mechanical
If present, identify if the machine has a brake or clutch, and how it operates
Identify all the “in-running nip points” on the machine
Identify all the pinch points on the machine
Identify entanglement hazards of the machine as a result of contact with:

  • rotating and moving parts
  • materials in motion
  • projections or gaps
Identify where a worker could come in contact with parts moving at a high velocity (e.g., abrasion or friction hazards)
Identify cutting or severing hazards where a worker could come in contact with cutting tools, saws, routers, knives, or sharp materials
Identify shearing hazards where a worker could be severely cut by being between two machine parts or between a machine part and a workpiece or stationary object
Identify crush hazards where a worker could be caught between parts of a machine moving against one another
Identify if it is possible to be struck or punctured by flying objects
Review the machine’s operation to determine if a worker could come into contact with pressurized liquids or gases
Identify any sharp edges and angular parts that protrude (stick out) from the machine
Identify situations where harm may occur if there was a fault or break in the machine or material (breakage point)
Identify situations where harm may occur if the machine’s operating software (if applicable) fails.
Worker specific considerations
Identify all work that a worker must perform while operating the machine, including:

  • how stock is fed into the machine
  • how final products are removed from the machine
  • removal of scrap
  • periodic cleaning of the point of entry and other parts of the machine
  • pre-shift safety checks
Identify all work that must be done when performing maintenance
Identify all work that must be done to change a tool or die
Identify any potential slip or fall hazards in and around the machine as a result of the floor surface, or due to material spills (e.g., lubricating oils, grease, water, saw dust, plastic pellets)
Identify other possible hazards, for example vibration or noise
Identify potential ergonomic issues in the operation of the machine. Make sure that the:

  • worker does not have to reach excessively
  • worker does not have to use excessive force
  • worker does not have to perform high frequency movements
  • machine cycle is based upon worker capacity, not visa versa
  • worker can perform work in several positions that promote a neutral body position
  • work surface is adjustable
  • worker has sufficient room to move without striking anything