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Question and Answer

What is the ANSI B65.5-1996 & How Does it Affect Me?

by Robert Weidhaas, Jr. of Preco Industries, Inc.

November-December, 1998
There has been a great deal of confusion within the die-cutting industry pertaining to OSHA and standards approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This article will briefly describe the ANSI B65.5-1996 Standard, its connection to OSHA, and explain the implications for die cutters.

In 1983, the B65 Committee was accredited by ANSI to serve as the coordinator of graphic arts standards activities, and, as a result, develops safety standards for the printing and publishing industry. The B65.5-1996, "Safety standard-Stand-alone platen presses", is a specific standard for webfed or sheetfed stand-alone platen presses. It applies to presses that are mechanically driven, flat-bed machines, used for the purpose of die cutting, embossing, foil stamping, or a similar function. The standard outlines safe mechanical and electrical design, as well as safe operating practices. The purpose of the standard is to help reduce injury to persons who come into contact with stand alone mechanical platen presses.

ANSI approved the B65.5-1996 Standard on January 12, 1996. Through it, the B65 Committee recommended its voluntary adoption and use by the printing industry and its suppliers as part of a total safety program in the workplace. "It is hoped that individual companies will not only use it in the purchase of new equipment, but will also apply the requirements of this standard during any major change or alteration to existing equipment," it states. The effective date for this provision affecting new equipment was one year from date of approval, January 12, 1997.

The ANSI B65.5-1996 is currently in effect for all new and used equipment sales. Existing machinery has until the year 2000 to be upgraded or replaced. The committee recognized a need to provide a reasonable time period (36 months) to allow die cutters time to bring their machines into compliance with the standard. Many diecutters believe their older equipment is exempt from the ANSI safety standards by what some call a "grandfather" clause. The B65.5-1996 Safety Standard does not, however, contain any sort of "grandfather" clause.

Manufacturers, rebuilders, suppliers, owners, and employees are all affected by the safety standard. Manufacturers of new machinery should currently be in compliance with B65.5-1996 specifications. Press rebuilders should be upgrading safety devices on every machine they rebuild. According to the standard's specifications, owners of existing non-complying equipment should currently have a written plan of action so that they are financially and logistically prepared to be in compliance with the safety standard by January 12, 2000. Employees are encouraged to comply with the standard by following safe operating practices set up by the employer, and reporting any problems or inconsistent press performance.

According to the secretariat of ANSI, there is no "OSHA" standard for the year 2000; however, certain provisions of the B65.5-1996 Standard are currently in effect. Although no formal OSHA regulations have been passed, the government recently implemented an initiative for OSHA to adopt ANSI standards wherever possible. The Committee therefore recommends upgrading existing equipment no later than the year 2000, or purchasing new or used equipment that meets the ANSI B65.5-1996 Standard.

The standard clearly defines safety requirements for stand-alone mechanical platen presses. This safety standard should not be viewed as a threat, but as an opportunity to protect the industry. While OSHA regulates all businesses and industries, few die cutters have had parameters with which to establish safe operating conditions. The ANSI B65.5-1996 Safety Standard gives die cutters the necessary tools for safe operating practices.

According to the secretariat, even though the ANSI B65.5-1996 Safety Standard is voluntary, OSHA may use this standard as a basis for many of their inspections. Therefore, to protect your business, you should consider complying with the standard as early as possible. In addition, the standard should be used as a purchasing reference for new and used equipment by verifying that the machine is considered safe by government regulators. Contact your equipment manufacturer to discuss your options and determine the costs and viability of upgrading your equipment to comply with the standard.

For more detailed information about the safety standard, you can order a copy of the ANSI B65.5-1996 specifications, "Safety standard-Stand-alone platen presses", from the NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing and Publishing Technologies. The price is $12.00. Contact the NPES Publications department at (703) 264-7200 or fax your request to (703) 620-0994. You may also contact the Document-on-Demand service at 1-800-974-0858, requesting document #2209. The order form can be downloaded from the NPES web site at http://www.npes.org.