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Safeguarding cutting machines in printing

The guidance in the following tables describes commonly accepted and practicable safeguards for the significant hazards on some cutting machines prior to the requirements of European Standard BS EN 1010 Safety of machinery –Safety requirements for the design and construction of printing and paper converting machines.  

For some machines, manufactured or refurbished after March 2002, the requirements of European Standard BS EN 1010-3:2002 Safety of machinery – Safety requirements for the design and construction of printing and paper converting machines: Cutting machines apply. See also general safeguarding guidance on machinery safety in the printing industry.

Manually fed three-knife trimmers
Hazard Safeguards

Cutting/crushing/ trapping injuries from:

  • contact with knives on feed and delivery side 
Interlocking tunnel-type guards on delivery side 
Adjustable guards on feed side to reduce opening to minimum by combination of top flap and side guards with interlocking trip
Actuation of trip guards should, with minimal deflection, instantly cut power and movement of hazardous parts 
Front table extension may also be required to keep operators away from feed opening
Provide simultaneous actuation two-hand (hold-to-run) control on all manually fed machines where practicable 

If two-hand control is shown to be not practicable (e.g. older machines with mechanically integrated controls) employers should ensure robust systems provided for:

  • effective maintenance and inspection, and
  • information, instruction & training of operators on all safe systems of work (ssow) e.g. knife changing and setting 
Label punching machines
Hazard Safeguards
Access to punching knives at in-feed on manually fed machines Interlocking guard or electro-sensitive protective equipment (ESPE) at in-feed
Openings/safety distances to comply with BS EN ISO 13857 Safety of machinery - Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs
If regular/ routine access required in feed area then safety devices should satisfy the requirements of Type 4 of BS EN 61496-1 and BS EN 61496-2 Safety of machinery – Electro-sensitive protective equipment
Discharge area access to danger zones Guards with openings/ safety distances to comply with BS EN  ISO 13857
Round cornering machines
Hazard Safeguards
Access to trimming knife or saw Fixed or interlocking guards at the rear and on both sides. 
Adjustable transparent guard in front of the knife
Cutter operation only starts after a pile has been fed using a presence sensing device 
Cutter operation by hold-to-run controls (hand or foot operated) 
Loose knife punching machines
Hazard Safeguards
Manually operated punching machines
Crush injuries from Stroking platen

Combination of the following:

  • sliding front feed table
  • simultaneous actuation two-hand controls, and 
  • interlocking/ sliding screen front guards or self-adjusting tunnel/screen front guards, and
  • localised fixed guarding for the sides and rear, or perimeter-type fencing 
  • Cutter balancing springs to stop small cutters falling over
Automatic machines
Crush injuries from Stroking platen Simultaneous actuation two-hand controls, and 
Hinged interlock guard or an ESPE on feed side (two-hand controls only offer protection for the operator during the initial strike on)
Fixed and interlocking guards for sides and rear 
Openings/safety distances designed to meet BS EN ISO 13857
Flat-bed cutting and creasing machines
Hazard Safeguards
 Purpose-designed machines

Feed-end (similar to sheet-fed printing presses)

  • crush injuries from descending pallets
  • in-running nips/ shear points
Prevent foot-crushing risks from descending pallet tables by having a manual system for the final 100 mm, or alternatively, hinged flaps to raise operator's foot away from trapping point 
Adequately guard transfer mechanisms from the product pile or shear points as in-feed devices oscillate

Cutting /creasing and stripping areas

  • crush/shear
Fixed or interlocking guards 
Pre-start audible warnings if limited movement possible with guards open, and
Transport chains, which move intermittently, must be inaccessible with guards open

Delivery-end pallets

  • crush/shear
People should not enter the pallet descent area during normal operation
 Isolation and lock off required to access the pallet descent area 
Provide ssow for pallet or carriage plate changeover  
Converted printing presses – e.g. the Heidelberg Original Cylinder

Access to forme (machines with infeed/delivery at same end)

  • crush/shear
Interlocking guards provided over the forme to facilitate changeover of dies 

Inking rollers 

  • in-running nips
Remove inking rollers from presses dedicated to cutting and creasing

Cylinder gap and machine fixed parts

  • shear trap
Fixed guard - use U-bolts or similar devices round the cross tie bar’ or
interlocking guard

Oscillating delivery fingers

  • shear trap
Ensure fingers are telescopic 
Replace jammed/damaged fingers
Autoplatens – original and converted machines
Hazard Safeguards

Inking rollers – where still used

  • in-running nips
Inking rollers must be guarded

Access to moving parts e.g. reciprocating platen, piston, linkages, windmill or rotating grab bar

  • crush/shear

Understanding of operator/machine interaction (e.g. by risk assessment) essential to provision of effective guards

  • provide rear and side guards e.g. by machine position or with fixed panels, or 
  • provide specific guards for individual hazards such as exposed linkages, piston etc, and
  • provide operator training and supervision
Converted machines e.g. to hot foil or similar   Cost of conversion combined with the increased life span of the machine may mean that it becomes reasonably practicable to install front interlocking gates/panels


Updated: 2014-12-31