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Safe Operation of Machinery

Safe At Work Ontario
  • Issued: January 12, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: January 2016

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.


Workers can be exposed to a number of hazards when machines are not properly guarded or locked out during maintenance, repair and other activities in industrial sector workplaces. These hazards can result in serious injuries such as amputation of limbs or death.

Hazards can include:

  • pinch points of unguarded machinery
  • moving parts if machinery is not properly locked out and blocked during mechanical repair and maintenance
  • electrical contact if machinery is not de-energized and locked out during electrical repair maintenance and set up

In 2013, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board received a number of claims from workers who missed time at work due to injuries. These included:

  • 1,641 workers who were caught in or compressed by equipment
  • 246 workers who were rubbed or scraped by friction, pressure or jarred by vibration

Also, in 2013, the Ministry of Labour issued 16,088 orders to employers under the Regulations for Industrial Establishments. Of those orders, about

  • 15.5 per cent involved machine guarding and
  • 1.5 per cent involved lockout violations

Duties and Responsibilities

Employers, supervisors and workers have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and Regulations for Industrial Establishments.

Some of their responsibilities may include:


  • providing appropriate information, instruction and supervision to protect workers such as training in lockout and guarding procedures (OHSA Section 25(2)(a))
  • ensuring equipment is maintained in good condition by replacing and/or repairing damaged machine components (OHSA Section 25(1)(b))
  • ensuring an appropriate machine guard or other device exists to protect workers when:
    • a moving part may endanger workers (Industrial Regulation Section 24)
    • a machine has an in-running nip hazard (Industrial Regulation Section 25)
  • ensuring appropriate lockout and blocking procedures when:
    • any work is done, and while it is being done, on or near live exposed parts of installations, equipment or conductors (Industrial Regulation 42)
    • cleaning, oiling, adjusting, repairing or conducting maintenance on a machine when motion that could endanger the worker is stopped and any stopped part that could move has been blocked (Industrial Regulation Section 75)
    • locking out control switches or other control mechanisms, or taking other effective precautions to prevent starting, when the starting of the machine could endanger a worker (Industrial Regulation Section 76)


  • taking every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the protection of workers (OHSA 27(2)(c))
  • ensuring workers comply with the OHSA and its regulations (OHSA 27(1)(a))
  • ensuring workers use any equipment, protective devices or clothing required by the employer (OHSA 27(1)(b))
  • advising workers of any potential or actual health and safety dangers (OHSA 27(2)(a))


  • following lockout and guarding procedures (OHSA 28(1)(a))
  • reporting machine hazards and other workplace hazards to their supervisor (OHSA 28(1)(c))
  • using or operating machinery in a safe manner (OHSA 28(2)(b))
  • using or wearing protective devices or clothing required by the employer (OHSA 28(1)(b))

More Information

Toll-free Number

Call 1-877-202-0008 for more information. Call anytime to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. For general inquiries, call between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Always call 911 in an emergency.

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.