Manufacturer of Hydraulic Presses

Operating a Hydraulic Press safety tips

August 2, 2019

Hydraulic presses are powerful and can be found in small machine shops and factories. As important pieces of machinery, they are useful for compacting food, making appliances, manufacturing car parts and more.

Despite their usefulness, they do pose a danger to untrained owners and operators. Want to know how to operate a hydraulic press safely?

Keep reading!

Types of Hydraulic Presses

Machine shops and industries buy hydraulic presses for different applications. Such applications include blanking, punching, forming, molding, deep drawing, and straightening. A single hydraulic press can't perform all these operations. To perform these operations and more, you have different types of hydraulic presses.


There are five types of hydraulic process namely:

  • Single column or C-frame hydraulic press – popularly used for sheet metal forming, deep drawing, forming and bending
  • Two pillar hydraulic press – divided into water and oil presses. Used for stamping and forging
  • Custom presses – for specialized uses 
  • Four-column hydraulic press – used in applications where pressure is a major consideration
  • Horizontal hydraulic press - a multi-purpose machine used for rail straightening, contouring, and punching


Want to know how a hydraulic press works?

Well, they follow Pascal’s law. Simply put, the machine uses the power of fluids to operate. A typical hydraulic press has the following parts:

  • Hydraulic control unit
  • Power source
  • Machine unit

For low-pressure applications, the machine uses gear pumps, blade pumps for medium pressure applications and plunger pump for high-pressure applications.


Uses of Hydraulic Presses

Hydraulic presses are used in a variety of operations in different environments. In the food industry, hydraulic presses help in compressing food products. Such foods include meat and cheese.

In the appliance/electronics industry, hydraulic presses help in creating or assembling electrical parts for a refrigerator. They are also used for shaping panels found on appliances such as microwaves, laundry machines, and dishwashers. Apart from the appliances, you have the switches and housings in switching stations. Even some thermostats that keep our homes and businesses at a comfortable temperature are often manufactured using the pressing process.


Common Issues with Hydraulic Presses

Hydraulic presses are durable but they are not foolproof. Due to heavy use, hydraulic presses can become worn and damaged. As such, they require maintenance to extend their functionality and lifespan.

Common issues affecting hydraulic presses include:

  • Overheating
  • Oil leaks
  • Abnormal noises
  • Slow pressure build-up
  • Neglect

Let’s take a brief look at each issue.



Causes of overheating include contaminated hydraulic fluid, increase in pressure and friction. What you need to know is that hydraulic presses should never reach 150 degrees F or higher. If this happens, damage occurs to sealing compounds


Oil leaks

Oil leaks are common around the hose end fittings, around the ram and hydraulic lines. To prevent oil leaks, make sure all fittings are tightened and use the recommended oil.


Abnormal noises

In case of knocking or banging noises from the hydraulic press, the problem could be air in the fluid. Damage to components and loss of lubrication are the common causes of abnormal noises.


Loss of pressure

Loss of pressure is normally caused by dirt and leaks in the hydraulic fluid. To prevent this, have the press examined.


Common Hydraulic Press Accidents

As said earlier, hydraulic presses are powerful tools. Since they are not toys, they need to be handled by trained and experienced personnel only. If operated by untrained and inexperienced persons, it can lead to accidents.

The most common hydraulic press accidents involve fingers and hands.

Death can occur if workers are not careful. In 2004, a 20-year-old metal fabricator was killed by a hydraulic press. The accident occurred while the metal fabricator was setting up a 5,000-pound hydraulic press. He was replacing the punch on the press when the accident happened. Due to high pressure, a welding fitting on the hydraulic cylinder snapped and impaled the young man near the collar bone.

In 2017, a worker was crushed to death while placing materials under a hydraulic press. The worker controlling the press started the machine while not aware that the other worker was fixing materials. The press crushed the victim before he had time to get out.

Tips for Operating a Hydraulic Press Safely

Want to lower workplace accidents and risks associated with the operation of the hydraulic press? The first step is to ensure that every worker operating a hydraulic press is skilled and experienced. That means the worker(s) must possess knowledge and certifications in all areas of operations.

Second, as the owner, you must keep up with the maintenance schedule of the hydraulic press. That means cleaning and replacing parts of the hydraulic press. Doing so prevents common issues such as abnormal noises, overheating and oil leaks.

Last, have the press inspected regularly. Areas to inspect include seals, hoses and the general body of the machine. For seals and hoses, make sure they are not damaged. When it comes to the hydraulic fluid, check for the presence of dirt.

Don’t forget to inspect the body of the machine for cracks. Also, pay close attention to abnormal noises and excessive vibrations.

Hydraulic presses, whether big or small, must be operated safely to avoid accidents. Even when workers use precautions, accidents can occur. To ensure your workers are safe when operating a hydraulic press, there are safety measures owners can set up.

The first measure is to ensure that your workers have the appropriate eye protection and footwear. You may also need to equip them with face masks, hearing protection, gloves, and clothing. Second, all hydraulic operators must be aware of the on/off switch as well as the emergency stop button. By moving fast, workers can prevent injuries in case something goes wrong.

Third, workers must handle all slippery and heavy materials with care especially those with sharp edges. You can take it a step further and equip your workers with special tools for handling materials.

Last, outfit your machine with failsafe locking systems. Not all hydraulic presses come with a failsafe system. One of the best solutions is the hydraulic locking actuators. This locking system acts as a secondary safety unit. It works by creating an interference fit to the outside diameter of the rod locking it in place.

We recommend Bear-Loc by York Precision Machining and Hydraulics. Why? It comes with automatic locking, infinite position locking and in a simple design. Designed with quality and safety in mind, the locking system can be custom build for your hydraulic presses. As such, you can create a safe working environment for your workers.

For a free quote or more information about Press Master, contact us today!