Protective Guarding


  • Safety rail includes posts and rails erected to prevent individuals from coming in contact with hazards.

  • Fixed or portable wire mesh perimeter guarding includes fencing that surrounds a work cell or machinery to prevent unauthorized access by personnel for safety or security.

To protect personnel, equipment, facility, and inventory from hazards, protective guarding is frequently installed in manufacturing and warehouse facilities. It can be a fixed barrier that indicates a boundary or slows or stops an impact. Alternately, protective guarding can be sensing devices programmed to trigger an alarm or stop machine operation should they detect the presence of an employee in an unsafe area. Typical applications include fixed rails surrounding moving equipment or machinery, safety fencing or netting placed around high-bay material storage areas to catch falling objects, or specialized switches that sound loud bells or buzzers should unauthorized access occur.

Protective guarding comes in a variety of styles to protect equipment, structures and workers as they perform various tasks near and around machinery and storage areas, including:

Barrier guard, machine guard, fixed guard or fixed guarding: These guards are designed to be applied directly to moving equipment or machinery to prevent workers from coming into contact with moving parts. Typically secured with at least one fastener that requires a tool to be used to remove it, the guards are large enough that a person cannot reach around, over, under or through it to access the dangerous area.

Safety rail: Guard rail with posts and rails erected to prevent individuals from coming in contact with hazards.

Perimeter guard: Fixed or portable wire mesh fencing that surrounds a work cell or machinery to prevent unauthorized access for safety or security reasons.

Bollard: One of a series of closely-spaced, low height posts fixed to a facility floor that prevent vehicles from entering an area.

Column protector: Protects rack uprights and structural rack columns from possible damage due to a collision with a lift truck or a load transported by a vehicle. Other equipment used to protect rack columns from impacts include fenders, bumpers, and rack guards. Nets and netting systems can also be installed to catch stored materials should they fall from high-bay rack storage.

Structural column protector or column cushion: Typically made of polyethylene and filled with sand or gravel, these systems wrap around a facility’s structural columns (supporting the roof) to disperse the energy of an impact, protecting against possible vehicular or load collisions.

Safety guarding or safeguards: Presence-sensing devices—such as such as light curtains, pressure sensitive mats, and sensors are used to detect the presence of an operator in proximity to potentially dangerous equipment or machinery. These can include:

  • Photoelectric sensor (also called optical devices, photo eyes or electronic eyes): A device projecting a beam of light that, when interrupted, signals the presence of an object.
  • Interlock: A guarding device that disables a control system, stops machine operation or prevents movement of a gate or opening until the guard is put back in place.

Protective guarding is used in a variety of areas throughout a facility to protect the facility, equipment and personnel working with and around that equipment:

  • Manufacturing: Protecting workers from contact with moving parts, projectiles or hazardous fluids
  • Palletizing: Surrounding a robotic palletizer work cell to prevent contact with the robot arm
  • Storage: High-bay netting to catch any stored items that may fall off storage racks

Protective guarding provides a variety of benefits:

  • Equipment protection – By protecting racks and other manufacturing and material handling equipment, protective guarding prevents damage and associated costs due to impacts
  • Facility protection – By deflecting or absorbing energy from vehicular impacts, the structural integrity of a building is maintained by protective guarding
  • Reduce labor expenses – Protective guarding systems reduce the chance of worker injury, decreasing downtime and loss of productivity
  • Reduced risk of injury – By preventing contact with moving equipment, protective guarding reduces the chance that personnel will be injured by operating machinery
  • Safety – Because they delineate areas of potential danger, protective guarding enhances facility safety

Protective guarding protects personnel and equipment in a variety of industries, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Appliance
  • Automotive
  • Beverage
  • Chemicals
  • Commercial printing
  • Construction
  • Consumer goods
  • E-Commerce
  • Food
  • Hardware
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials processing
  • Newspaper
  • Paper
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Plastics
  • Retail
  • Warehousing and distribution

Read more about how protective guarding is used in different industries and applications.