Guards: Changes of Standard ISO 13857-2019

by Jan 5, 2021Machine Safety

Standard ISO 13857 on safety distances preventing lower and upper limbs from reaching hazardous areas, together with standard ISO 14120 concerning the general requirements for the design and construction of fixed and movable guards, are essential standards for the design and verification of the conformity of guards.

Although standard ISO 14120 is more focused on the properties of guards and the objectives aimed for with the addition of these (resistance, suitability for the operating environment, ease of disassembly, etc.), standard ISO 13857 primarily deals with the aspect of preventing and limiting access to hazardous areas in order to prevent the lower and upper limbs from reaching them, by acting on the distance to the hazardous area as the main physical obstruction.

The first version of standard ISO 13857 was published in 2008. In 2015, it was revised and confirmed, and at that time the Canadian Standards Association decided to adopt it without modification to establish an “International-Canadian” standard, the CAN/CSA-ISO 13857:15.

In October 2019, the most recent version of this standard appeared with some modifications which, unsurprisingly, do not affect the distances or dimensions of the guards or their openings much, since this standard is developed to cover the 95th percentile of the population.

The most significant changes mostly relate to the aspects that contribute to simplifying the application of the standard and its alignment with ISO 12100 on risk assessment and reduction.

  1. Definition: In the new version of the standard, a definition of the reference plane has been added in order to clearly determine the plane from which the measurements must be taken.
  2. Assumptions: In the sub-section “assumptions”, it has been clarified that, concerning contact with the reference plane while wearing shoes, the use of high-soled shoes is not included.
  3. Risk assessment: More details and guidelines have been provided in the risk assessment section to better determine distances when accessing over or under guards.
  4. Full-body access: The distances to avoid full-body access according to the types of openings have been maintained, however, they have been changed from a note in the previous version (table 7) to a requirement in section 4.4.
  5. Normative references and bibliography: The current version of the standard refers to ISO 12100:2010 instead of ISO 12100-01

Regarding the bibliography, the current version still refers to ISO 13855 and ISO 14738, however, 4 standards (ISO 7250, ISO 13732-1, ISO 14119, and ISO 14120) and 2 technical reports (ISO/TR 14121-2:2012, and ISO/TR 20218-2) have been added.

In conclusion, we would like to remind you that the safety meter designed by Intervention Prévention to help design or check guards is still up to date and will be useful for at least the next 5 years.

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Intervention Prévention Inc.

Intervention Prévention concentrates its operations in the field of work safety, offering specialized services following Standards CSA Z462 – Workplace Electrical Safety, CSA Z460 – Control of Hazardous Energy: Lock-out and Other Methods, and CSA Z432 – Safeguarding of Machinery.


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