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June 2, 2008

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HSE alert to the printing industry

Last week the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a safety alert aimed at employers in the printing industry who use hand-fed platen machines. This follows two fatal incidents in the last 13 months where machine operators have been crushed between the platens.

The two fatal incidents took place in April 2007 in West Drayton, London and in May 2008 in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Both incidents are currently under investigation and no further details can be given at this time. 

In both cases the machines were being operated in ‘dwell’ mode at the time of the intervention. HSE is concerned with this activity in that the platen may automatically stroke at the end of the dwell period and safety devices may not be activated. 

The ‘dwell’ mode is effectively a continuous cycle with an adjustable delay to allow the completed blank to be removed and the new one inserted. Once activated, the machine will continue to cycle in this fashion until a stop button / guard is activated. The dwell can be set anywhere between 0.5 seconds and 12 seconds. 

This safety alert highlights the dangers of using the dwell facility on these machines, together with the steps employers need to take to ensure the machine can be used safely.

The alert is on the HSE website which is available from the link below.

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