Guarding printing presses

This guidance may help employers control the risks to employees who operate and clean printing presses.



Risks from unguarded printing presses

Employees who operate and clean printing presses are at risk of injury. Unguarded printing presses can trap arms, wrists or fingers, causing crushing injuries, broken bones and even amputations.

In one incident, a printing press operator’s right forearm was crushed and wrist broken when he tried to clean a mark off an impression drum while the machine was operating.

The machine was not guarded and there were no safe operating procedures for cleaning the drum.

An image of a printing press with guards
Ensure the printing press is suitably guarded to prevent access to rollers and nip points.

Controlling risks from printing presses

Employers can eliminate or reduce the risk of injury from a printing press by:

  • guarding the machine to protect people from rotating parts and nip points. For example, installing a permanently fixed physical barrier or a barrier that can only  be removed with tools
  • installing an interlock safety system that stops the moving parts of the printing press when access is required
  • regularly inspecting and testing the safety system
  • servicing the machine regularly
  • placing signs on or near the machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating the machine
  • providing employees with instructions and training on safe work procedures
  • regularly reviewing safe work procedures, including lock out and tag out systems
  • ensuring that employees who are setting up or cleaning the printing press use a single means of control. The single means of control should allow only limited movement in short stages, known as 'inching'

Do not rely on emergency stop devices

An emergency stop device such as a stop button does not stop an incident from occurring. It cannot be relied on as the only measure to control the risks of entanglement in plant such as a printing press. A person being pulled into a machine may not be able to reach and activate the emergency stop device.

Worksafe has guidance about how to control the risks of entanglement in plant.

Legal duties


The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) requires employers to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, so far as reasonably practicable. Employers must, so far as reasonably practicable:

  • provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health
  • make arrangements for ensuring safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances
  • maintain each workplace under the employer’s management and control in a condition that is safe and without risks to health
  • provide adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at any workplace under the employer's management and control
  • provide the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision employees require to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health


Employers must also consult with employees and any health and safety representatives (HSRs) when identifying hazards and risks and making decisions on how to control risks. Consultation should include discussions about how employees will operate and clean printing presses, ensuring that risk controls do not create new hazards.

WorkSafe has guidance on consultation, including consultation with HSRs.


Employees also have duties under the OHS Act. Employees must:

  • take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions in the workplace
  • co-operate with their employer’s actions to protect the health and safety of their employees while at work
  • not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything the employer has provided in the interests of health and safety

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