Machinery safety in the printing industry

What you need to know

Most printing machinery accidents occur at presses while making ready, attending to web breaks/webbing-up, freeing blockages, machine setting, press cleaning, addition of substrates/inks and maintenance.

The most common injuries are lacerations, cuts and bruises, fractures/dislocation and crushing injuries to the fingers or hand. Fatal accidents have occurred on platens and other printing machines.

Common causes of printing machinery accidents result from:

  • being drawn into in-running nips of rollers;
  • contact with dangerous moving parts; and
  • entanglement with rotating parts.

Underlying causes of machinery accidents include:

  • inadequate or absent guarding;
  • inadequate maintenance of guards or control performance deterioration (eg inch travel/crawl speed increasing); and
  • unsafe interventions (eg unsafe or no safe systems of work).

What do I have to do?

Before you start using any printing machine you need to think about what risks may occur and how these can be prevented in accordance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). You should therefore do the following:

  • Choose the right machine for the job (eg autoplatens are more suitable for high volume work than hand-fed platens).
  • Check the machinery is adequately guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts or stop machinery movement before a person enters a danger zone. Additionally:
    • new machines should be CE marked, supplied with a Declaration of Conformity and have instructions in English
    • many types of printing machines supplied after 2005 should have been manufactured to BSEN1010 'Safety of machinery – Safety requirements for the design and construction of printing and paper converting machines'.
  • Carry out printing machinery risk assessments for your workplace and involve employees
  • Provide effective guards in accordance with the age of machine and type of controls:
  • Provide safe systems of work for using and maintaining the machine. Refer to:
  • Provide information, instruction and training to machine operators and supervisors. Operators should be authorised to use certain machines. Operators should NOT remove any safeguards, even if their presence seems to make the job more difficult.
  • Maintain guards and other protective devices to ensure they are working properly. See
  • Monitor use of safeguards and safe systems to ensure they are working effectively.

Find out more

HSE guidance is also available specific to the following machinery used in printing; 

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Updated: 2021-11-09