OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

December 8, 1999

Mr. Paul Budesheim, General Manager
Smartscan, Incorporated
27764 Franklin Road
Southfield, Michigan 48034

Dear Mr. Budesheim:

Thank you for your August 30, 1999 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Regional Administrator in Chicago, Illinois. Your letter has been referred to the Directorate of Compliance Programs for an answer to your questions. You have questions regarding OSHA's "opinion" on the need to guard pinch points and moving parts on packaging and pelletizing machines that may cause bodily injury to affected employees. In your letter you point out an apparent safeguarding disparity between machines which are manufactured and sold in Europe and those for sale in the United States. You also highlighted several OSHA regulations and/or consensus standards which may be applicable in this situation.

We agree with you, that OSHA standards require guarding of pinch points and moving parts on packaging and pelletizing machines that may cause bodily injury to affected employees. The OSHA standard, 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1), General requirements for all machines, states: "one or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point-of-operations, ingoing nip-points, rotating parts, flying parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of machine guarding are barrier guards, two-handed tripping devices, and electronic safety devices."

Your letter indicates that machines destined for Europe, have safeguarding on the in-feed and out-feed conveyor access points, while ones sold in the United States have no safeguarding or severely inaccurate safeguarding. OSHA standards do, in fact, require the same stringent guarding on packaging and pelletizing machines as the European community. In the United States, however, machines such as packaging and pelletizing machines are sometimes sold either with or without safeguards. Under current OSHA regulations, it is the responsibility of the employer who uses the machines to ensure that packaging and pelletizing machines and all other machines comply with the general machine guarding requirements in §1910.212(a)(1). If a machine is sold without guards, the employer who purchases the equipment must provide adequate guarding to comply with applicable OSHA standards, (e.g. 1910.212).

The employer has multiple safeguarding options to most effectively guard a machine, while maintaining its efficient operation. For example, an employer may choose to use light curtains instead of barrier guarding, or a unique design of barrier guarding to suit a particular operating area, machine, or task. Under 1910.212, the employer can determine the type of safeguarding that is needed to effectively protect the employees from machine hazards while maintaining the efficient operation of their equipment and processes.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope this provides the clarification you were seeking. As this letter demonstrates, OSHA's re-examination of an issue may result in the clarification or correction of previously stated enforcement guidance. In the future, should you wish to verify that the guidance provided herein remains current, you may consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of General Industry Compliance Assistance at (202)-693-1850.


Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs