The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is launching a campaign aimed at improving health and safety in the print industry. Due to the high concentration of print specialists in the Yorkshire and Humber region, the HSE will start in September 2007 with a series of inspections in Leeds, Wakefield and York. Letters are being sent to 120 small printing firms to forewarn them of the impending inspections.
Nationally there are around 1200 accidents in the printing industry each year, 200 of which result in major injuries such as fractures and amputations. Print workers are exposed to a range of hazards during their work, ranging from machinery to chemicals. Starting in early September, HSE inspectors will be concentrating on some of the most common causes of accidents and ill health in the industry, namely contact with machinery, manual handling, slips and trips, and dermatitis.
Analysis of the machinery accidents shows that printing presses are the most commonly implicated machines, with smaller numbers of accidents involving conveyors, binding, cutting and folding machinery.
The main causes of accidents are as a result of: being drawn into the inrunning nips of rollers; contact with dangerous moving parts; or entanglement with rotating parts of the machine. The most common injuries are lacerations, cuts and bruises, fractures/dislocations, crushing injuries and amputations, with most injuries occurring to fingers and hands. According to the HSE, most accidents result from unsafe interventions with the machinery - typically while freeing blockages, cleaning down, making ready, webbing up and performing maintenance.
Keith King, the HSE Principal Inspector who is heading the inspection campaign, says: "The printing industry is one of the UK's largest and the HSE has been working closely with it in recent years, with some success, to help reduce its record of work-related injuries and ill health. We will be targeting West and North Yorkshire to make sure the necessary high standards are being met.
"This may not sound like a high-risk industry but it does rely on the use of hazardous chemicals and complex machinery, which, if safety is not kept to the forefront, can put workers at risk of injury or ill health.
"Precautions are often simple to implement, so the HSE will continue to work at implementing good health and safety practice whilst, via initiatives like this, taking enforcement action against those that fail to meet their legal responsibilities to provide healthy and safe workplaces."
Health and safety is an important issue for the print industry. Highly competitive, it makes a substantial £35billion annual contribution to the region's economy and provides direct employment for nearly 20,000 people.
Pilz is a member of the BPMSA (British Paper Machinery Suppliers Association) and has significant expertise in the print industry. In the last ten years the company has helped numerous manufacturers and users of printing and related machinery to comply with British and European standards and Regulations.
As well as helping customers to specify safety devices for particular applications, Pilz also provides services for companies that do not have the competence or manpower in-house for assessing whether or not equipment meets current safety standards. Following an initial plant assessment, Pilz consultants can help companies identify any machines that require attention and then prioritise the work so that it can be performed in a timely manner and to a manageable budget. In addition, if a need for training is identified, Pilz can develop tailored training courses or provide standard courses that cover machinery safety and the management of health and safety.
Further information about health and safety in the print industry can be found on the HSE's website.