Creating A Hazard-Free Pressroom

In a pressroom, various processes take place to produce printed materials such as brochures, posters, packaging or magazines. Printing presses print thousands of copies in a short amount of time to meet tight deadlines. As a commercial pressroom operations manager, you’re responsible for overseeing your pressroom operations, ensuring equipment maintenance and checking the quality of all printed materials. You may also be responsible for workplace safety and finding ways to minimize job injuries.

With pressroom printing equipment, cutting and folding at high speeds, implementing pressroom safety measures is essential. The pressroom requires skilled operators who understand how to safely maintain a printing business’s efficiency, productivity and profitability. Learn about the common hazards and how to manage and reduce pressroom risks to create a safe workspace for your team.

Safety Measures in the Printing Pressroom

With high demands often placed on the printing industry, it’s easy for occupational safety to be low on the priority list. However, safety plays a major role, and pressrooms must adhere to safety regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Role of Safety in the Pressroom

Pressrooms can pose several occupational health and safety risks due to the nature of the equipment and operations involved. Employees are often unaware of all potential hazards in their working environment and can be more vulnerable to accidents or injury. In this context, safety refers to the measures and practices in place to protect everyone from harm while they go about their workday.

Safety is essential in the pressroom — it’s good for your business and employees. Safety has many other benefits, including:

  • Safe work environment: Ensuring everyone stays physically safe and protected while working is the right thing to do. It’s a fundamental principle and human right at work.
  • Improved productivity: Workspaces are more efficient and productive when employees work in a safe environment that protects them and lowers the risk of injuries and accidents.
  • Higher employee retention: A safe and well-managed pressroom could result in more motivated and mindful team members, reducing absenteeism from injuries, illnesses or low employee morale.
  • Reduced downtime: Lower absenteeism and fewer accidents lead to fewer disruptions in the overall workflow and missed printer deadlines, which can improve business revenue.
  • Workplace with values: Younger job hunters often look for roles and workplaces that share their values. You can attract skilled operators for your pressroom by sharing your dedication to corporate sustainability and responsible safety practices.
  • Competitive advantage: People trust businesses and brands with a good health and safety record. Clients prefer to work with pressrooms and service providers with a reputation for ethical standards — those who look after their people.
  • OSHA compliance: Companies need to comply with OSHA workplace safety regulations.

OSHA Regulations

Businesses should develop and review their safety policy annually — no matter their industry — and include the employer’s commitment to health and safety protocols at their organization. OSHA identifies several common types of hazards in most workplaces:

  1. Chemical: Chemical hazards can exist in solid, liquid or gas forms. Some chemicals may cause skin irritation or breathing problems, especially without using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) or working in non-ventilated rooms.
  2. Physical: Physical hazards come from anything that can harm the body directly or indirectly. Examples of harm from physical hazards include easy-to-notice accidents like cuts to symptoms from long-term exposure to loud noises or temperature extremes.
  3. Biological: Although biological hazards are primarily associated with organizations working with animals or in health care, they also include airborne pathogens, bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing and contaminated touching.
  4. Ergonomic: Ergonomic hazards happen when your working conditions strain your body in any way. These may include having sore muscles from awkward, repetitive movements to long-term pain from frequent lifting and improperly adjusted workstations.
  5. Safety: Some examples of basic safety hazards at the workplace include spills or obstacles in walkways with the potential for falling, slipping or tripping.
  6. Organization: Also known as psychosocial hazards, work stressors can cause tension, stress or strain from workload demands, lack of support and constant fast-paced environments.

OSHA also requires all organizations to assess their workplace to determine the type of PPE their staff may require to protect themselves, no matter the size of the facility. People working in the pressroom may need PPE to prevent injury from moving around and operating printing equipment.

Common Safety Risks in Pressrooms and How to Manage Them

Employers should identify common hazards, inspect and maintain equipment regularly, and implement comprehensive safety protocols to ensure a safe pressroom environment. Employees should also receive appropriate PPE and regular training on pressroom safety. Here are common pressroom risks, best risk management practices, and the required general occupational health and safety training.

Common Hazards

Pressroom managers can collaborate with their employees in hazard identification to record any potential risks in the pressroom. Identify potential risks when you add new processes or equipment to the standard workflow, during inspections and after an incident. Ideally, you should also look for hazards before each shift and during the work day.

These are general health hazards that can be found in the printing industry:

  • Chemical exposure: Pressroom workers may come into contact with solvents, ink, fumes and cleaning agents, which can lead to skin irritation, respiratory issues or chemical burns. There’s also the risk of inhaling lint and paper dust.
  • Loud noises and vibrations: Printing presses can generate loud noises and vibrations, which can contribute to hearing loss or other long-term health issues.
  • Machines and equipment: Printing presses contain fast-moving parts, such as rollersgears, and belts can pose mechanical hazards. Forklifts are another potential hazard. All this equipment can cause accidents like entanglement, crushing or lacerations.
  • Ergonomic challenges: Working in the pressroom involves repetitive motions, awkward postures and heavy lifting. These tasks can lead to musculoskeletal disorders like back pain, strains or sprains. 
  • Heat and fire: Printing equipment and machines generate heat during operation, and paper and solvents are flammable materials.
  • Slips and trips: These types of accidents can happen in production areas of pressrooms. They also occur due to poor housekeeping or maintenance practices.

Risk Management

The ideal scenario is to remove all hazards. However, not all risks can be eliminated, especially when they form part of the necessary processes in the pressroom. In these cases, provide PPE and control hazards as much as practically possible.

Include the following items and actions to manage and reduce risk in the pressroom:

  • Face and eye protection: Goggles or face shields protect against splashing chemicals and airborne particles.
  • Hand protection: Provide safety gloves that are resistant to inks and solvents when handling sharp tools.
  • Foot protection: Proper closed shoes, foot guards or safety shoes reduce physical, chemical and electrical hazards.
  • Ear protection: Self-forming earplugs or earmuffs help prevent hearing loss in high-noise areas.
  • Respiratory protection: Provide masks or respirators to protect workers from dust, fumes, vapors and other harmful air particles.
  • Additional equipment: Provide forklifts to lift heavy loads, guards around moving parts of machines and soundproof barriers to reduce noise levels.
  • Clean environments: Keep walkways and working areas clear from obstructions by cleaning up spills immediately, providing enough bins, covering cables and designating areas for ink and chemical supplies storage and pallet loading zones.

Training and Education

Identifying and minimizing hazards starts with knowledge and education. Pressroom managers can make improvements by training and educating their employees, ensuring they have better facilities and work environments, reviewing safety measures, and updating policies and procedures.

Train your staff by educating them on the following:

  • The limitations of PPE.
  • What PPE to use and when to use it.
  • All potential hazards and risks in their workspace.
  • How to inspect, wear, adjust, store and dispose of PPE.
  • Protocols and procedures to follow during an emergency.
  • Where the first aid kits are kept and fire escapes are located.
  • How to use and move around safety zones, such as those marked for walkways and forklift traffic.
  • Familiarizing themselves with occupational health and safety signs and posters around their work areas.

Creating a Safety-First Culture

When prioritizing safety in any business, leaders must set an example for their teams to follow. They should implement safety policies and empower their staff to create a safety-first culture.

Role of Leadership in Promoting Safety

Everyone carries the responsibility to promote safety in and around the pressroom. However, it’s up to those in leadership positions to emphasize safety so the whole team is aware and can keep it in mind. Leaders should build safety awareness and policies in every aspect of their business. Some ideas you can implement to promote safety include:

  • Monitor your staff’s health and safety.
  • Correct any unsafe practices immediately.
  • Investigate all incidents that happen on-site.
  • Make it a priority in your annual business goals.
  • Encourage your staff to follow the rules and policies.
  • Identify and control or eliminate all safety and health hazards.
  • Create a reward system for no accidents within a specific period.
  • Create a culture of open dialogue about health and safety concerns.
  • Provide PPE where necessary so employees can protect themselves.
  • Recognize employees who go above and beyond for pressroom safety.
  • Provide specialized training if any machines or equipment pose unique hazards.
  • Develop work procedures that will reach targets and deadlines without causing incidents.
  • Train and retrain your staff regularly to keep them updated and informed of workplace safety.
  • Put signs and posters up around the work areas to raise awareness and update them regularly.
  • Ensure only experienced staff handle certain equipment or have them work under the supervision of experienced team members.

Empowering Workers 

While it is up to management to identify and control pressroom hazards to provide a safe and healthy work environment, employees must also remain aware of any risks and know how to prevent them. Employees should bring safety ideas and concerns to management’s attention as they become aware of hazards during their work every day.

Workers can feel empowered about their health and safety by:

  • Performing all their duties safely.
  • Refusing to work in unsafe work conditions.
  • Handling all machines and equipment properly and safely.
  • Taking enough breaks to stretch and lower ergonomic issues.
  • Familiarizing themselves with all work health and safety rules.
  • Keeping workstations and areas clear and clean to keep others safe.
  • Reporting any hazards and potential risks they identify in their work areas.
  • Talking to team members, supervisors or managers about safety concerns.
  • Working together with others to create a safe and healthy work environment.
  • Checking tools and equipment regularly to ensure they function the way they should.
  • Following all occupational health and safety procedures and standard operating procedures.

Leveraging Online Safety Resources and Support

If you’re a pressroom manager, your employees need easy access to occupational health and safety resources and support, whether the information is available on posters and signs, in company policies, or online. An online platform is a simple yet effective option for communicating all safety practices, record-keeping, risk assessments and training policies.

Here are a few options for leveraging online safety resources and support:

  • The OSHA website: OSHA covers typical potential hazards and possible solutions for those working in the printing industry. Since businesses must adhere to OSHA regulations, their website is a good online reference.
  • Post documents on the company Intranet: Using an online platform or the company Intranet provides a centralized place for all employees to access any documents, checklists and paperwork without needing to see a supervisor or person responsible for health and safety when looking for information.
  • Survey software: Gather input from all your employees by using online surveys that encourage them to share their perspectives. Anonymous responses allow management to create a well-rounded health and safety management plan that uses everyone’s suggestions and ideas.
  • Onboarding and training software: Online occupational health and safety courses or training material is convenient and accessible and ensures every employee receives the same training consistently.

Contact Fujifilm Graphic Communication for Sustainable Printing Solutions

Pressrooms must train employees on all the potential hazards in the workplace. Always follow the instructions on safety data sheets for any inks and chemicals, and keep them in a designated area of the pressroom. Signs and markings help workers know where to walk safely and which areas are designated for other uses only, such as forklifts. Ensure everyone wears appropriate protective gear to minimize the risk of injuries.

Fujifilm Graphic Communication aims to enhance customers’ quality of life by creating high-quality products and services that are safe and secure. We pursue safety through the entire life cycle of all our products. Get in touch today to learn more about our printing products and solutions. We’re happy to answer any questions!

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