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The 9 Most Common Machine Safety Devices

David Kerr
Posted by David Kerr on Mar 17, 2022 12:57:35 PM
  1. Hands OutThe saying "Safety First" is popular for a reason. Machine hazards are a real, daily threat to many people whose jobs or hobbies depend on working with machinery. Luckily, these threats can be properly mitigated by the combination and implementation of the most common machine safety devices. Mechanical hazards on machines occur most often at points of operation, power transmission, and other movements. So naturally, these standard machine safety devices are specifically designed to mitigate the risks at these crucial points.

  1. mpsa full logo-1Implementing these devices should help make any environment safer, but keep in mind that specific industry standards may apply to your application and must be followed regardless of other measures in place. If you have questions or need help with these components or your application, you can always reach out to a safety specialist. Airline has a machine safety division, MPSA Group, who are ready to help. Let's dive in!


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Guarding  |  Interlock Switches  |  Light Curtains & Scanners  |  E-Stops  | Pressure Sensors

 Safety Controllers  |  Enabling Switches  |  Lockout  |  Light Indicators

Summary  |  Resources + Info



1. Machine Guarding

Machine Guarding

Machine guarding acts as a physical barrier between a hazard and personnel and is probably the most common machine safety device. Machine Guards come in all shapes and sizes depending on the application but usually consist of an aluminum extrusion or steel frame, with a thick, clear polycarbonate, or wire mesh barrier. Guards can be custom built to fit any application, and a benefit to aluminum extrusion guarding is that it's versatile enough to adapt with your application. 

Shop Machine Guarding     Machine Guarding Examples

2. Safety Interlock Switches


Safety interlock switches are often used in conjunction with machine guarding. When installed on a guarded gate or door, these tamper-resistant switches shut systems down if the door is opened or removed. 

Shop Safety Interlocking Devices

The PSR Non-Contact Safety Switch by Phoenix Contact

psr - safety switch - phoenix contact - video In this video, we explain the PSR, an electronic safety switch featuring a compact design. They provide a cost-effective and complete solution for safety door position monitoring and connect via IO-Link to the controller and HMI for real-time visualization. Excellent for washdown environments and swing doors with misalignment issues.

Watch Video



3. Light Curtains & Laser Scanners


Light curtains and laser scanners both use sensors and beams of light to create invisible barriers around hazards that sense the presence of anything that shouldn't be there. When those sensors are tripped, the hazard is automatically shut off.

Light curtains are bars of sensors and receivers that typically act as an invisible door or passageway, keeping anything that may accidentally pass through the curtain while hazards are active, safe. Light curtains are usually positioned vertically,

Laser scanners send their signals horizontally (perpendicular to the ground) to protect user-designated areas. Safety laser scanners keep everything a set, safe distance away from active hazards, stopping it if something comes too close. Scanners are ideal for complex and irregularly shaped areas not easily solved by other safeguarding solutions.

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4. Emergency Stop Buttons & Ropes


Emergency stop buttons and pull systems allow personnel to quickly and effectively stop systems at any time in an instant way. These devices are wired to override all other system controls and remove power. E-stop controls need to be readily available to personnel, so it's likely that you may need more than one depending on the size of your application. 

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Learn about compliant vs. not compliant safety solutions

mpsa safety trainer video thumbnailIf you think you have implemented a safe and compliant safety control device, think again! Watch MPSA's safety trainer demonstrate how the improper selection or utilization of safety components can leave you with a non-compliant solution.

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5. Safety Mats, Edges, & Bumpers


Safety mats, edges, and bumpers are contact-sensing devices that function from pressure sensitivity when touched. A safety mat gives the ability for a machine to only activate a function while a user is standing on it. A safety edge or bumper may halt an automatic door that's closing if pressure or resistance is detected. 

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6. Safety Controllers, Relays, & Modules


Safety controllers, relays, and modules control many of the other safety devices mentioned in this article. They're the brains of the operation, ensuring safe start and stop functions for hazardous machines. Relays and modules control things like safety light curtains, switches, and safety mats. Safety controllers can often replace multiple safety relay modules in applications that include multiple high-level safety devices and functions.

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    Machine Controls Examples



Simplify Safety Wiring with Phoenix Contact's Multifunctional Safety Relay

safety relay phoenix contact thumbnailWiring safety products to separate safety relays is the traditional method of safety wiring - but it also takes extra time, space, and funds from your bottom line. In this video, learn how to simplify relay wiring with the three-in-one PSR multifunctional safety relay.

Watch Video





7. Enabling Switches


Enabling switches are user-operated devices that engage when a user squeezes or releases the handle/switch. These can be continuously functioning, allowing machines to be manually operated, but only active with someone at the controls. These can come in the form of a button, triggers on a handle, two-handed controls that require both hands to be active, and many more!

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8. Lockout Equipment


Just because a system is off, doesn't mean it's safe, especially to perform maintenance or be in a compromising position. Unexpected bursts of pneumatic or hydraulic energy can have catastrophic effects, but lockout equipment ensures that all of the potential energy in the system is neutralized for good, preventing any unexpected startups.

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9. Indicator Lights


Light and colors are some of the fastest ways to get real-time safety status indications. Lights can be used individually or stacked as a tower, provide high visibility, can be placed inside dangerous areas, and are customizable to signal whatever properties your application requires. Having a red light on while a hazard is active and a green light while inactive is one of the simplest examples of getting instant visual safety feedback. 

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Machine hazards are real threats, but there are many modern machine safety devices designed to help minimize and eliminate those risks. There is no one-size-fits-all in safety, and the best way to apply these safety devices will vary by the application and industry safety standards.


mpsa full logo-1If you have any questions about which devices are best suited for the safety of your application, reach out to one of our machine safety specialists at MPSA, or you can shop for the listed products below.

Ask a Machine Safety ExpertShop Safety Components


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Topics: Product Spotlights, Machine Safety

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