Press Safety Inspection

The Press Safety Inspection service will evaluate the current mechanical operation and safety compliance of punch presses and press brakes.

By their design, presses are dangerous machines, much more so without proper safeguarding or maintenance. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that press operators suffer more than 350 amputations per year. The greatest threat linked to running presses and press brakes is having the operator’s hand trapped between the part being bent and the frame of the machine at the point of operation. If the force is great enough or the part is sharp enough, impalement or amputation can occur.

Another key factor contributing to the dangers of presses is a lack of maintenance. An unmaintained press or press brake, especially one with damaged tooling, can put both the machine and operator at risk for serious injury.

Rockford Systems’ experienced inspectors will visit customers onsite to evaluate the mechanical operation and safety compliance of the organization’s presses. Based on a thorough analysis, the visual inspection will determine if part-revolution punch presses and press brakes, and full-revolution punch presses, are in safe working order according to OSHA regulations and ANSI standards. This determination follows a series of function tests including press stop times, safety distance measurements, and inspection of safeguards and controls. In addition, a visual mechanical inspection will assess the proper functioning of the press, condition of press lockout/tagout devices, safeguarding and controls, NFPA 79 electrical compliance, tooling or dies and their setups, and any auxiliary safeguarding.

Every mechanical power press must be looked at as an individual system. Key areas of the visual inspection include frame and mechanical parts, electrical or electronic systems, hydraulics and pneumatics, mechanical linkages, counterbalances operating and used properly, dirt or water in air lines, proper operational speed (RPM or SPM), press production requirements, and maintenance requirements.

Regarding the safeguarding device inspection, part-revolution presses will include controls, barrier guards, disconnect switches, motor starters, transformers, air lockout valves, two-hand controls, presence-sensing devices, pullbacks (not offered by Rockford Systems), restraints, and Type A or Type B gates. Full-revolution presses will include controls, disconnect switches, motor starters, transformers, air lockout valves, barrier guards, two-hand trip, pullbacks (not offered by Rockford Systems), restraints, Type A gates. The point of operation, as well as the sides and back of the presses, will be also inspected.

Regarding the auxiliary safeguarding device inspection, various types of feeding equipment, such as feeds, shuttles, magazines, stackers, indexing tables, straighteners, reels, cradles, re-coilers, scrap choppers, iron hands, robots, etc. will be reviewed. Auxiliary equipment is used for additional protection from injuries of all personnel in the machine area and used in conjunction with primary safeguarding devices. Auxiliary safeguarding also involves the guarding of other components or hazardous openings on machines.

Aside from being an OSHA requirement, formal press inspections must be also made at regular intervals based on the press manufacturer’s recommendations.

Regulations and Standards Overview

In the early 1970’s, OSHA promulgated a “machine specific regulation” for mechanical power presses, their CFR SubPart O, 1910.217. Very few changes have been made to that regulation since then. Keep in mind that OSHA’s 1910.217 Regulation was taken from ANSI B11.1 using a version that was freshly updated for OSHA in 1971. ANSI has updated its B11.1 four times since that time. Every update adds new, more stringent requirements than the previous version. Although many companies have long since met the basic OSHA requirements for their presses, a significant number of those shops have yet to make updates to meet the latest ANSI B11.1 Standard.

The Press Safety Inspection service helps organizations meet OSHA (29 CFR 1910.212 and 1910.217) regulations that require an employer establish and follow a program of periodic inspections of its press machines. This is done to ensure that the press, together with its auxiliary equipment and safeguards, are all in safe working condition and properly adjusted. A visual inspection by Rockford Systems also can ensure the equipment’s mechanical status and, as part of a preventive maintenance program, help prevent breakdowns that can lead to costly production delays.

The same OSHA regulation states that a press’ mechanical, electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic components and systems, including all collateral equipment, be kept in first-class operating condition. Furthermore, it is required that companies immediately replace or repair any part of a press that is worn, damaged or not operating correctly, before a press is used again.

A press maintenance program includes regular periodic safety inspections of each machine to ensure that, among other things: the clutch and brake mechanism, mechanical linkages, and air counterbalances are operating and used properly; there is no dirt or water in the air lines; and the machine is operating at its proper speed.

In addition, OSHA requires training (in 1910.217) for anyone who cares for, inspects, maintains, or operates mechanical power presses. ANSI B11.1-2009, requires training for “all (people) associated with press production systems, including operators, die setters, maintenance personnel, supervisors, which must also include (OSHA) 1910.147 Lockout/Tagout.”

Regulations and Standards Referenced

  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910.212 – General Requirements for All Machines
  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910.217 – Mechanical Power Presses
  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147 – The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)
  • ANSI B11.1 – Mechanical Power Presses – Safety Requirements for Construction, Care and Use
  • NFPA 79 – Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery

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