Reduce crushing injuries involving presses

October 25, 2020

Nearly half of all work-related injuries involving mechanical power presses result in amputation, statistics compiled by OSHA show. Around 60% of amputations involve a worker’s fingers or arm getting caught or compressed by a press or other machinery such as a conveyer, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“A crushing injury is one of the most severe and traumatic injuries a worker can sustain in a workplace,” a hazard alert from the Michigan State University Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine states.

A press is a machine that uses pressure to change the shape of a workpiece by rolling, forming, forging, punching, stamping, bending, piercing, drawing, etc. Presses are classified by the work they perform as well as their power source: manual driven, mechanical, hydraulic or pneumatic.

To help reduce crushing injuries involving presses, the alert recommends:

  • Equipping presses with properly designed and constructed point-of-operation guards and/or properly applied and adjusted point-of-operation protection devices.
  • Establishing a press maintenance and inspection program, and ensuring regular and periodic inspections are conducted. Maintain inspection records. The program should confirm all parts and safeguards are in safe operating condition and adjusted properly. Don’t use if any part of the press or its safeguards are worn, damaged or not operating correctly.
  • Developing, implementing, training and ensuring workers use safe work practices, power press controls, and safety guards and devices, including lockout/tagout training. All workers associated with press production systems should be included.

Safeguards should be designed so they can’t be easily tampered and removed, don’t create a new hazard, or don’t impede a worker from performing the job, the alert adds. Meanwhile, point-of-operation guards and devices can include light curtains, barrier guards, two-hand controls, and restraints.