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USDL News Release: 97-73
Wednesday, March 5, 1997
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming, (202) 219-8151

OSHA Aims To Reduce Power Press Injuries

Industries with high rates of amputations and other injuries related to power press hazards are being targeted for special enforcement and education emphasis by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency announced today.

Ten manufacturing industries, which include more than 22,000 establishments and employ more than one million workers, will receive special focus. These industries experienced more than 650 amputations in 1994 (the most recent data available)--nearly 10 percent of all amputations in manufacturing. Local offices may expand the program to include other industries.

"It is unconscionable for workers to be losing their fingers and suffering other disabling injuries simply because mechanical power presses are not properly guarded or maintained," said Greg Watchman, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Operating a mechanical power press can be extremely dangerous. Yet injuries are preventable when employers ensure that guards, which have long been required and are readily available, are installed and maintained on presses to protect workers against the punching action of metal stamping equipment."

OSHA standards require employers to report all point-of-operation injuries. Guarding devices, weekly and periodic press inspections, training for press operators and maintenance personnel and regular press maintenance are critical to preventing injuries. OSHA estimates that about 300,000 power presses are in use across the country today.

In addition to the human suffering and loss associated with amputations and related injuries, employers are paying anywhere from $5,500 to $47,000 in workers' compensation costs and indirect costs for each of the injuries.

Watchman said OSHA's inspection records and workplace injury data were used to target mechanical power press injuries in the 10 selected industries: hardware; fabricated structural metal; metal doors, sash, frames, molding and trim; fabricated plate work (boiler shops); sheet metal work; metal stamping; miscellaneous fabricated wire products; fabricated metal products; manufactured furniture; and motor vehicle parts and accessories.

During inspections over the past three years, OSHA identified more than 2,650 alleged violations of power press guarding and inspection requirements. Eighty percent of these violations were classified as serious, willful or repeat, indicating the grave threat to worker safety posed by the violations.

OSHA area offices around the country will be developing local enforcement and education programs to reduce injury rates. The programs will include employers with 10 or fewer workers as well as large companies. States operating their own OSHA programs are encouraged, but not required, to adopt a similar emphasis program.

OSHA area offices will be providing information to the targeted industries to help employers establish effective programs to prevent power press injuries. Offices will either mail or make available compliance assistance materials and a fact sheet (attached) to interested employers, professional associations and local unions.

Employers also may seek help from their state OSHA consultation program in identifying and correcting hazards associated with power presses and other equipment, training their employees and establishing safety and health programs. Available in every state from state governments with well-trained professional staff, OSHA consultation programs are listed in the state government section of the telephone directory. Listings are also available from OSHA area and regional offices and on OSHA's web site at

In addition, the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) in Des Plaines, Ill., will be offering three sessions of its four-day course on mechanical power presses tentatively scheduled to begin on April 1, May 13, and June 24. While intended primarily for OSHA compliance officers and consultants, the course is open to the public on a space-available basis. Contact OTI at (847) 297-4913 for course details and registration information.

Outreach efforts for OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Mechanical Power Presses will begin in April. The enforcement phase of the program--limited in most cases to mechanical power presses--starts in late June or early July.

The directive implementing the program, CPL 2-1.24 "National Emphasis Program on Power Presses, 29 CFR 1910.217," is available on the Internet at under "Other OSHA Documents." The directive includes seven appendices with technical information useful to employers. Single copies of the directive and the fact sheet also will be available from OSHA Publications, telephone (202) 219-4667.

Preventing Mechanical Power Press Injuries

Workers who operate mechanical power presses without proper guards can experience lacerations, amputations and other disabling injuries. Mechanical power presses punch out metal parts for automobiles, metal doors and windows and a wide variety of other products. Workers face the greatest danger at the point of operation where stock is inserted, held and withdrawn by hand.

Safeguards must prevent hands, arms or any other part of a worker's body from making contact with dangerous moving parts. The system should eliminate the possibility of the operator or another worker placing hands near hazardous moving parts.

Machine guards, effective employee training and proper maintenance are the critical factors in preventing mechanical power press injuries.


Various types of safety devices are available; some stop the machine if a hand or other body part is inadvertently placed in the danger area. Others work by restraining or withdrawing the operator's hands from the danger area during operation, by requiring the operator to use both hands on machine controls or by providing a barrier that is synchronized with the operating cycle of the machine in order to prevent entry to the danger area during the hazardous part of the cycle.

Safeguards must:

  • Be secure so that workers cannot easily remove or tamper with them.

  • Be made of durable material to hold up under normal use.

  • Protect against falling objects, which could land in the machine and then fly out and harm workers.

  • Create no new hazards. They must not include a shear point, a jagged edge or unfinished surface that might cut workers.

  • Create no interference. The safeguard must not impede the worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably.

  • Allow safe lubrication. Workers should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards. If oil reservoirs are located outside the guard with a line leading to the lubrication point, the operator or maintenance worker will not need to enter the hazardous area to oil the machine.

Employee Training

Press operators must receive sufficient on-the-job training under supervision before being assigned to operate presses. Operators of complex equipment may need additional training before they run the equipment alone.

Press operators must know:

  • How to use all the press controls.

  • Where each safety device is located on the machine and how to use it correctly.

  • How to use tools to remove stuck work and how to use swabs, brushes, or oil cans to lubricate dies and stock.

  • Why, when and how to use personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, safety shoes and hearing protection.

  • Where to store parts, tools, die sets, bolster plates and other materials so that these items do not present falling hazards.

  • Where possible pinch points with moving components are located.

  • The importance of keeping their work area clean to avoid hazards.

  • Not to operate the press until it has been checked and tested several times prior to production operations and to whom to report problems.

Pressroom supervisors also must know:

  • Hazards posed by power press operations, including hazards present during setup and maintenance.

  • How the safety guards and devices on the presses work and when and how to adjust them.

  • To check each set-up and ensure that each operator is instructed in running the press safely before beginning work.

  • To ensure that correct operating procedures are followed during press operations.

  • To make certain that all maintenance is performed as required and that presses are in safe repair prior to operation.

Press Inspection and Maintenance

To ensure that presses are working properly and safeguards remain in place, employers must:

  • Inspect presses weekly to ensure proper function of the clutch/brake mechanism, antirepeat feature and single stroke mechanism.

  • Conduct in-depth inspections periodically.

  • Visually inspect each pull-out device or restraint used on a power press, checking it for proper adjustment at the beginning of each shift, following a new die set-up and whenever operators change.

  • Make needed maintenance and repairs before the press is operated.

  • Lockout machines before repair work starts.

Safeguarding Choices for Mechanical Power Presses(1)

Guards (which prevent access)
Die enclosure

Devices (which control access to point-of-operation hazards)
Full Revolution Clutch Part Revolution Clutch
Pullback Pullback
Restraint Restraint
Type "A" Gate Type "A" or "B" Gate
Two-hand trip Two-hand trip
  Two-hand control
  Presence-sensing (light curtains or radio frequency control)

Footnote (1) - Source: Rockford Systems, Inc. Rockford ,Ill. Reprinted with premission (Back to Text)

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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