This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

Safeguarding bookbinding machines in printing

The guidance in the following tables describes commonly accepted and practicable safeguards for the significant hazards on some bookbinding machines that were manufactured or refurbished before the publication of European Standard BS EN 1010-4:2000 Safety of machinery – Safety requirements for the design and construction of printing and paper converting machines: Bookbinding, paper converting and finishing machines.  

For newer machines (manufactured or refurbished from November 2003) please refer to the Standard. See also general safeguarding guidance on machinery safety in the printing industry.

Sheet-fed folding machines
Hazard Safeguards
In-feed rollers in-running nips Fixed or interlocking guards with narrow slots for sheet entry which meet the safety distances specified in BS EN ISO 13857 Safety of machinery - Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs
Folding rollers in-running nips Use combination of guards, the machine’s frame and buckle plates 
In-running nips associated with drive tapes and in particular tensioning pulleys Provide in-running nip bars, or 
Transport/feed tables positioned 6 mm or less from the in-running belt/pulley nip 
Access to folding knives  Interlocking guard (also covering delivery area of the buckle-folding unit), or 
Localised fixed/interlocking guard if above not practicable
Cutting, creasing and perforating devices intakes/danger zones Fixed or Interlocking guards
Precautions also need to be taken to prevent access to the periphery of running slitters and perforators
Access to machinery during setting Machine operation with interlocking guards open by two-hand hold-to-run control. Zones with restricted view have interlocking guards and selector switch provided. Run speed should be as slow as possible.
In-line folders, sheeters, die cutters etc
Hazard Safeguards

General mechanical hazards including in-running nips at: 

  • nip/pinch rollers
  • cross-association rollers
  • folding drum
  • cutting cylinders
  • cross-perforating cylinders 
  • jaw cylinder
  • quarter folder
  • delivery and pulley belt nips

Enclosed by fixed and/or interlocking guards, and

Interlocking guards with guard locking where there is high risk of severe injury e.g. chopper folder and/or if rundown time allows access to dangerous parts once the guard is opened

Arrangements for remote control of folder settings (electrical/electronic or mechanical), or

Localised guarding where guards enclosing whole machine not reasonably practicable 

Bending rollers (outside totally enclosed area) Fit 'nose' guard at the base of the former, and 
Adjustable guards for parts of bending rollers behind the former.
Delivery area (outside totally enclosed area) Delivery Tunnel guard 
Hold-to-run control to enable operator access to delivery area to remove incomplete copy whilst machine run speed as slow as possible
Draw rollers in-running nips Fixed in-running nip bars or interlocking guards
Access to Rotary Knife Dual circuit interlocking, and 
Interlocking guard with guard locking if rundown time allows access to dangerous parts once the guard opened
Stitching, riveting, eyeletting and attaching machines (with manual feeding)
Hazard Safeguards
Access to moving tools  Maximum distance between tools in open position to be 4 mm or closing tool has maximum force of 50 N or presence sensing device provided, or
Adjustable guards provided with openings/ safety distances in accordance with BS EN ISO 13857. Provide separate or reversible guards for flat and saddle stitching, or
Provide two-hand control or hold-to run control where workpiece must be held by operator 
Operator training
Gatherer-stitcher-trimmer (GST)
Hazard Safeguards

Dangerous parts at:

  • Gatherer/feed station
  • Stitching heads and calliper roll
  • Access to knives at delivery end ie access to trimmer knife

Provide fixed or interlocking guards with opening and safety distances in accordance with BS EN ISO 13857

Tunnel-type guards on automatically fed machines require 550 mm safety distance from the nearest danger zone

Two-hand hold-to-run controls or wander lead to operate with one guard open for setting and adjustment (prevent two–person operation)

Hold-to run speeds set as low as possible. Two-hand control operation required for speeds higher than 10m/min and only if access restricted by interlocking guards and selector switch provided (prevent two person operation).

Setting/maintenance and knife changing by trained operator as required for 3-knife-trimmers

Adhesive (perfect) binding machines
Hazard Safeguards

Book clamps opening/closing and indexing during normal operation

  • shear/crush
Interlocking guard.
Additional localised fixed and trip devices may be necessary at hand-feeding stations.
Access to clamps during make ready operations Use hold-to-run controls at slowest speed when interlocking guard open. Danger zones outside operators view remain guarded. 
Limit hold-to-run speed to 10 m/min maximum if interlocked guards are open for manual feeding during set up.
Access to miller cutter Interlocking guard and a self-adjusting/adjustable local guard.
Prevent access whilst the cutter is running down by using braked motors or interlocking guard with guard locking.


  • burns from hot melt ones
Provide temperature control with limit monitoring together with suitable screens or covers and remote methods for refilling the adhesive.

Feed end 

  • traps
Hand fed cover hoppers separating elements designed to prevent traps. Provision of residual pile monitoring.
Automatic fed machines can use tunnel-type guards with a 550 mm safety distance to nearest danger zone.

Delivery end-movement of book carriage

  • shear traps
Fixed or interlocked tunnel-type guard. Minimum safety distance to danger zone is 550 mm.
Paper drills
Hazard Safeguards
Stroking parts on manually fed drills. Hand or foot operated hold-to-run control. 
Release of hold-to-run control returns drill or workpiece to start position.
Hold-down device to fix workpiece. Distance between device and chuck jaw is at least 25mm (BS EN 349:1993 Safety of machinery – Minimum gaps to avoid crushing parts of the human body).
Rotating chuck jaws on multi-drill machines. Fixed or interlocking guard or a two-hand control device.
Shatter and trapping on drills and chuck jaws. Fixed or interlocking guard.
Book sewing - Automatic/semi-automatic machines
Hazard Safeguards
Sewing head access Combination of fixed and interlocking guards effective during threading up as well as normal running.
Trip guards.
Book signature presses – used for pressing hard book covers
Hazard Safeguards
Traps between moving press plate, material supply and intermediate plate Hold-to-run control
Book presses – used for pressing books after manual binding
Hazard Safeguards
Traps between the moveable and fixed pressing plates or the forming bar  Provide trip bar if plate movement automatic. Trip movement should be greater than the stopping distance of the pressing plate.
Provide fixed, bend resistant, guards between plates where pressing plates move independently. Clearance between guard and moving pressing plates should not exceed 6 mm.
Gap between moveable pressing plate and machine enclosure should be at least 120mm in accordance with BS EN 349.
Provide emergency stop on operator side
Book production lines
Hazard Safeguards
  • Traps created by separating elements on the book cover feeder
  • Traps created by formes in back rounding and pressing sections
  • In-running nips in the cover bending and rounding sections;
  • Crushing/shearing zones in  casing-in section
  • In-running nips on the feed and delivery conveyor belt
  • Hot parts on pre-heater
  • Hot glue sections
  • In-running nips at gauze and head banding unwinding rollers 
  • Knives on head banding and backlining section
  • Provide fixed or interlocking guards with openings and safety distances in accordance with BS EN ISO 13857 
  • Limited inch operation or hold-to run maximum crawl speed of 5 m/min with interlocked guards open 
  •  Hold-to run speed over 10m/min only acceptable if two-hand controls provided AND all other interlocking guards are closed, zones and selector switch provided, the hold-to-run speed is the slowest possible and does not exceed a maximum of 20 m/min.
  • Emergency stop buttons on each control panel
  • Pre-start warning device where vision restricted


  • In-fill blocks at pre-heater
  • Provide pictograms warning of hot parts 
  • Operate pre-heater by hold-to-run control when interlocking guard open
  • Enable glue replenishment during production without opening guards. Hot melt pans should have temperature control and limit temperature monitoring.
  • Nip bars at remaining in-running nips when interlocking guard open
Back rounding and pressing machines used to round book signature backs and to complete forming process
Hazard Safeguards
  • In-running nips on the feed and delivery belts. 
  • Traps on tipping section 
  • Traps and hot parts on pre-heater section.
  • Traps and shear points on pre-forming, rounding and backing section.

Automatic machines:

  • Fixed and interlocking guards.
  • Safety distance of 550mm from danger zone at feed and delivery end.
  • Provide pictograms warning of hot parts if pre-heater accessible after interlocking guard opened.

Hand-fed machines: 

  • Prevent access to the feed/rounding rollers during powered movement. 
  • Provide two-hand controls and interlocking guards.
Backlining and head banding – automatic production of books with flat or rounded book back
Hazard Safeguards
  • Feed-side in-running nips on vertically mounted conveyors.
  • Glue rollers and hot melt parts.
  • Gauze knife and in-running nips. 
  • Headbanding and counter-pressure section.
Provide fixed or interlocking guards for all danger zones.
At in-feed provide tunnel-type guards with 550 mm minimum safety distance from danger zone. 
Affix warning signs for glue rollers and any hot melt parts. 
Fixed in-running nip bars on gauze unwinding section.

Provide emergency stop button on each control panel.

Book nipping (smashing)
Hazard Safeguards
  • Access to gap between horizontal moving platen and book
  • Access to gap between vertically moving platen and book
Provide adjustable guard to limit access when book fed from top to horizontal platen by spring-loaded guard displaced by back of the book so the guard covers the gap between the book and the platen, or  
Letterbox-type guards with slot opening of equivalent size to the book and the guard on platen side overlaps platens front edge.
Provide adjustable plates adjusted to the book size for each production run to prevent operators leaving their fingers on the upper surface of the book. Outside edge of the plate should extend beyond the platen edge to prevent a secondary trap.
Case-making and casing-in machine
Hazard Safeguards
  • Book transport fingers and fixed parts of machine traps
  • Cover bending, glueing and counter-pressure section in-running nips
  • Heated forming section crushing/nip points and hot machine parts 
  • Casing-in section crushing points 
Provide fixed or interlocked all-enclosing guards with openings and safety distances in accordance with BS EN ISO 13587.
Feed and delivery openings should have tunnel-type guards with minimum safety distance of 550 mm.
Pictograms warning of hot parts in the vicinity of heated book-cover crease-forming devices which are accessible once the interlocking guards have been opened.
Emergency stop on control panel.
Updated: 2019-03-19