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Mechanical Power Press

Mechanical Power Press

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a press?

A press is a mechanically powered machine that shears, punches, forms or assembles metal or other material by means of cutting, shaping or combination dies attached to slides. A slide is the main reciprocating press member and is also called a ram, plunger, or platen.

What is the difference between a mechanical power press and a press brake?

A mechanical power press shears, punches, forms, or assembles metal or other materials by means of tools or dies attached to slides or rams. Metalworking occurs by placing stock on a bottom die and striking it with a top die.

A press brake is a machine tool for bending sheet and plate material, most commonly, sheet metal.

What is a presence sensing device?

A presence sensing device is a device designed, constructed and arranged to create a sensing field or area that signals the clutch/brake control to deactivate the clutch and activate the brake of a press when any part of the operator's body or a hand tool is within such field or area.

What are the hazards associated with mechanical power presses?

Workers operating presses without proper safeguards can suffer crushed bones, amputations and even fatalities. Typical point of operation safeguards for presses include the following:

  • Barrier guards
  • Presence sensing devices
  • Two-hand controls
  • Foot controls
  • Restraints
  • Pushbacks/Pullouts
  • Type "A" or "B" gates




What can I do to protect myself?

Workers operating a mechanical power press should never attempt to bypass any presence sensing device. When necessary to service or repair a mechanical power press, lockout procedures must be implemented and verified as effective before maintenance or repair can begin.

What resources are available to assist employers?

More information can be found on the A-Z topics pages for lockout/tagout, amputationsmedical services and first aid and machine guarding. The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Lastly, the consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.



Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for mechanical power presses in North Carolina:

Other related standards include:

  • 29 CFR 1910.212 - general requirements for all machines, machinery and machine guarding
Learn More

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Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.