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Question and Answer

Safety Issues With Foil Stamping Presses

by Staff

February-March, 2003
Safety is an important issue in the finishing and printing industry. Manufacturers strive to make equipment safe for the operator and yet, accessible for operation. Owners want to have a safe working environment and be productive. Machine operators hope that the equipment they use is in good operating condition and safe to use. One would think that all parties concerned want the same thing - equipment that is safe to operate and meets all current safety standards. Reality, though, is that this is not always the case.

Hank Brandtjen, president of Brandtjen & Kluge, is chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for NPES, the Association for Supplies of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies. Part of this committee’s task is to promote legislation that will benefit the graphic arts industry as a whole. InsideFinishing sat down with Hank and asked him the following questions:

IF: Who bears the responsibility to make sure a press meets current safety standards?

HB: First off, I want you to clarify what you mean by “bears the responsibility.” In the event of an accident, responsibility is determined by the court. Just in saying this, though, implies that an injury has already occurred. The real issue at hand is - who has the opportunity and obligation to make sure that a press meets current safety standards?

When a press is manufactured, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to make sure that all current and expected safety standards are met. When a press is resold as used, rebuilt or remanufactured, the picture is now not as clear. I believe the current seller of the press needs to be held responsible.

Finally, you have old equipment in use that was bought from the original manufacturer. Over time, it has to be expected that standards and technology will change. Manufacturers have to do their best to keep track of their customers and make them aware of product safety improvements. Equipment owners have to be proactive as well, and work with the manufacturer.

IF: Do re-builders or sellers of used equipment have to bring the equipment they are selling up to code?

HB: No. But then again, new equipment does not have to be up to code either. The reason most manufacturers comply with existing standards is because the failure to do so can result in a significant lawsuit and the potential end of their business. As for the people and companies selling rebuilt or used presses, your question opens the door as to what is their responsibility. In the event of an accident, a lawsuit will, in most cases, involve the original manufacturer. As the suit progresses, though, the seller of the rebuilt or used press will be brought in. So, in answer to your question, “Do they have to bring equipment up to code?” - no. But, surely they have a moral obligation. And in upgrading the equipment they are selling to meet current standards, they are also minimizing their financial exposure.

IF: What is the current platen style press safety standard?

HB: ANSI B65.5 applies to platen presses. While not officially recognized by OSHA, ANSI standards are often used for compliance. While the complete ANSI B65.5 standard can be found on the Internet, the main points are as follows:

  • Certain push buttons that control press motion are required. Included in this is the need to have a stop/safe-ready push button that stops the press and prevents press motion.

  • All platen presses shall be equipped with a fail-safe clutch/brake mechanism. For an automatic press like the Kluge, this mechanism needs to stop the press in a quarter of a cycle at 1800 IPH. Hand-fed presses have a different standard dependent on the design character of the press and its guarding. Please note: NEVER should any Kluge press be hand-fed. Hand-feeding a Kluge press has caused serious injuries.

  • Guards and other safety devices shall be utilized to protect the operator from certain hazards. The design of the guards is given.

  • An interlock system is required that shall stop the press by activating the fail-safe braking system when a guard is opened. When the guard is closed, the press shall not automatically start.

IF: Can a press be brought into compliance?

HB: That depends on the press. As a first step, contact the original manufacturer. Depending on the age and condition of the press, current braking and guarding systems may be retrofitted. Older presses, though, may not be able to be brought up to current standards. Specifically for Kluge platen presses manufactured prior to 1960, there is no cost effective way to bring them into compliance.

IF: In evaluating used and rebuilt equipment suppliers, what should the buyer look for?

HB: This question actually needs to be answered in two parts. In addition to evaluating the supplier, the press itself needs to be evaluated.

Suppliers should know the history of the press they are selling. Ask for the age of the press, what improvements or rebuilding steps have been taken and ask if it meets current safety standards. In my opinion, it would not hurt to ask what those standards are. Ask for the names of existing customers and follow up with them about their experiences. Does the seller offer a warranty? What is included with the purchase? Does it include freight, installation, and training? Does the seller have product liability insurance? Asking as many questions as you can up front, and then getting the answers in writing would be a smart business decision. Asking the right questions up front could save the buyer hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road.

As for the press itself, it is important to get a detailed description of the equipment and the serial number. The buyer can then call the original manufacturer and gain valuable information. Find out the exact date of manufacturing and the press’s known history. Find out if parts are available, if the press meets all current safety standards, or if the press can be brought into compliance.

IF: What can we do as an industry to promote safety?

HB: Be proactive! All parties involved – the manufacturer, the reseller, the owner and the operator – need to take press safety as a very serious issue. The question should not be “If an accident occurs, who is responsible,” but rather “How can we all be responsible to ensure an accident does not occur?”

Currently, there is legislation being proposed by Representative Chabot (R: Ohio) that would give an 18 year statute of repose on capital equipment. This bill, if passed, would remove the original manufacturer from any liability for equipment that is over 18 years in age. The passing of this bill would go a long way in easing the unfair burden placed on equipment manufacturers. In my opinion, a statute of repose is not just a win for the manufacturer but also, it is a win for our industry as a whole. This is because the end result will create a safer working environment, something we all can surely agree on!