Manufacturer of Hydraulic Presses

Top 5 Tips That Will Save Your Life

May 1, 2020

A hydraulic press is a rugged and powerful machine with pressures of up to 25 tons. It has a wide variety of general and specialized uses. For example, there are hydraulic presses that can crush carbon into diamonds. What this tells you is that crushing stuff is child's play for a hydraulic press.

As a machine shop owner, you must ensure the safety of your workers as they operate a hydraulic press. By paying close attention to the safety guidelines, cases of human error will be minimal.

In this post, we discuss hydraulic press safety and measures to ensure your employees are safe.

1. Emphasize the Use of Safety Gear

Industrial and machine shop workers are at risk of injuries when operating hydraulic presses. In some cases, the injuries may escalate, leading to death. Data from the BLS indicates that three-fifths of work-related amputations relate to machinery.

According to experts, workers' fingers may get caught or become compressed by a press. Reports from OSHA reveal that 49% of injuries from presses resulted in amputation.

These accidents occur due to a brake failure, counterbalance failure, or the sudden loss of hydraulic pressure. One-way machine shop owners can reduce work-related injuries is by emphasizing on the use of safety gear.

That includes:

  • Eye protection
  • Appropriate work boots
  • Face masks
  • Gloves
  • Hearing protection
  • Proper clothing

Putting on protective equipment before operating a press prevents the occurrence of injuries. At no time should an employee work a hydraulic press without the proper safety gear.

2. Train Employees on the Proper Use of Hydraulic Presses

Employers must ensure every worker receives training on the proper use of hydraulic presses. In fact, this should be part of the employee onboarding process. To ensure training is effective, the employer should conduct it in the following ways:

  • Practical hands-on instructions
  • Classroom training
  • During training, employers must cover essential topics such as:
  • Machine shop safety guidelines
  • Safety features of a hydraulic press
  • Common Hazards

The trainer must also educate the employees on how to maneuver heavy equipment safely.

It's also crucial for the employer to ensure workers learn the proper start-up procedure. After training, the employee must be able to locate the on/off switch as well as the emergency stop button. With this knowledge, employees can move fast and save others from injuries in case something goes wrong.

Training should not be a one-time thing. The employer must schedule refresher courses as needed. For example, the employer may decide to have refresher courses every 3 to 6 months. Thanks to this refresher course, the employer can discuss any observed misuse of equipment.

At the end of the day, the employer should only allow trained workers to operate the machinery.

3. Inspect the Machinery Before Use

As said earlier, hydraulic presses are enormous machines. They have hundreds of components, and one of those could be faulty. If this happens, the machine may become inoperable.

Imagine this; you are the supervisor of an 80,000 ton die forging press. It has a height of 42 meters and weighs 22,000 tons. This machine is often used in cold extrusion, sheet drawing, pressing, and more.

As such, it's an essential piece of machinery. In fact, it could be the only one within a radius of more than 2000 miles. This is an expensive machine with thousands of components that include:

  • Pressure gauge
  • Manual control valve
  • Relief valve
  • Safety door
  • Limit switch

Can you operate such a machine without carrying out inspection? I bet not. If you want to prevent fatal injuries, ensure press operators inspect the machine before use.

Here is what press operators should look out for:

Visible damage to the press structure

  • Signs of leaks
  • Overheating
  • Flying debris
  • Damaged parts 
  • Loss of pressure

If a press operator finds any problems, he should get answers from the employer before starting. This will save lives.

4. Use Die Safety Blocks

Die safety blocks are simple devices that go by many names. Some people call them ram blocks, prop blocks, or safety blocks. Others simply refer to them as die blocks. Despite the term used, die safety blocks have one purpose – to protect press operators.

What you need to know is that OSHA recommends the use of die safety blocks. In fact, CFR 29, subpart O, 1910.217(d)(9)(iv) says:

"The employer shall enforce the use of die safety blocks during repair or adjustment of the press."

Die safety blocks must interlock with the machinery. This helps to prevent the hazardous motion of the press. In the past few years, fatal injuries among press operators dropped significantly.

Reason being the use of die safety blocks and following proper safety block regulations.

5. Handle All Materials Safely

Machine shops handle a wide range of materials. Some of these materials are heavy and slippery, while others have sharp edges. Without handling the heavy materials with care, work-related injuries will be common.

One of the largest industries that use hydraulic presses is the automotive industry. They use state-of-the-art presses for molding body panels and other parts. Heavy sheets of aluminum, stainless steel, and other materials are commonly used.

These sheets of metal have sharp edges, and they are heavy. Improper handling will result in fatal injuries.

Invest in special tools for handling sharp or heavy materials. These tools keep the arms and hands of press operators safe. The special tools should help feed the materials into the hydraulic press.

Final Thoughts

Hydraulic presses have several applications and benefits. Despite these, they pose a lot of risks to press operators if misused. That is why machine shop owners should place the safety of their employees first. By doing so, they minimize the occurrence of fatal injuries associated with presses.

Steps to take include using protective gear and training employees. Employers should also make available special tools to handle heavy materials.