Safety of Flywheel-Driven Platens

Hello folks,
I think everyone that has or uses a flywheel-driven platen press should be aware of this tragic event and also the legal case that has followed it. I love a good C&P, but they must be owner-operated only.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Good training with at all jobs is best. I had a friend that owned a nice letterpress publishing shop. He wanted to speed things up with cutting stock for the press. So, he removed the second push button to start the pressure bar and cutting blade.

One day while rushing to cut paper he fail into the large paper cutter and the action hit the bar to turn the cutter on. If he had NOT removed the second button nothing would have happen. But, ctting corners and speed to get work done, cost him BOTH hands.

There is a reason for safety, its NOT to give some government man a job to check your place.

I have seen this happen many times at many places, the owners wait until the last minute to get a job done and rush everyone to get it done.

While I do not disagree with the point of presses like C&P platens needing to be owner operated for liability reasons, this instance was not a C&P.

Link to the article describing the accident in more detail in ‘08.

Frintz Klinke posted a note on Letpress re: this incident not too long ago pointing out the dangers in not properly training employees and having adequate equipment safety measures in place.

There was a case like this one in a Montreal die cutting plant a few years ago. (2007)
The platen had the dwell time on, so the press operator had a few extra seconds to feed the big sheets into the massive platen. A fellow pressman noticed that they were to many cut away sheets in between the clamshell near is guides. The press operator pressed the safety stop, lowered his upper body into the platen to get the cut away sheets out. The platen pick him up. The safety stop didn’t work. Died of his wounds.

There was a investigation by the local health/work authorities (CSST) . Which led to the conclusion. That the springs for the safety bar were replaced by some generic sort. That the safety bar failed because the pressure to activate it had to be 20 times the normal pressure.

I think you can smash a hand or a finger pretty badly on flywheel C&P, death maybe on a 10x15 and up if you put your head in the clamshell while the motor is running. Personally the thing that scared and still scares me the most in my few years of printing, is changing the blade on the cutter. Almost lost a finger just touching it…


PS: the accident happened on a bigger press then this one…

image: small_platen.jpg


I think I’ll stick to non-electric presses and cutters!

I was running my 8x12 C&P with the motor all the way up today, running coasters.

It got me to thinking about all the energy stored in that flywheel, and what would happen to my face if that thing let loose. Really makes you wonder. Sure, it’s been going strong for 82 years, but maybe THIS IS THE YEAR! I kept on printing. Job was due, y’know?

Safety shoulde be the first order of business. I lost a 4 color business card press for my business, because the operator didn’t follow safety rules. He had a long sleeve shirt unbuttoned on and it pulled him into the rollers and while pulling him out the arms holding the fours rollers got broken.

He was not hurt, but the repair to the press was more than the cost of the press. We never used the press again.

Follow the rules of safety. Do not work if you are feeling tried or sick. Take short breaks, a few minutes of sitting and resting will help.

At times, I will get up from my computer and walk to get a cup of coffee or soda.

The original reports of the San Francisco death seemed to describe a vertical platen diecutter, not a Thomson or C&P. A flywheel-driven C&P could not abruptly close from a dead stop as that press did, though platens with a moving clutched flywheel could close faster than your reaction time. If you are around these presses you need to understand how they operate, understand the timing, be able to predict how they will behave. If you don’t, then injuries can happen. And yet at one time it was common for teenagers to feed C&Ps. Does anyone have statistical records of injuries in those days?

That type of Die-cutter in this unfortunate accident looks to be a vertical type 16-page format diecutter. I looked up YAWA printing machinery. From the photos it looks like a chinese knock-off of a Bobst Diecutter. Bobst are fanatastic machines. They also have the the feature that the bed for holding the die slides out of the machine for makeready so that you would never need to put any part of your person between the platen and the bed.

Im not so sure about the companies statement that the deceased in this question was “an experience operator”.

It also goes to show that cheaper equipment is not always good. Knock-off equipment invariable has shortcuts in engineering that may endanger the safety of the operators.

Buy good Equipment, Train, TRAIN, and train some more, and always have a healthy respectable fear of your equipment. Metal is agnostic as to what it crushes, paper of flesh!