Inspections of power presses and press brakes, plus other PUWER inspections.

Part IV of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires thorough examination and testing of power presses and press brakes, including their guards and protective devices. Examinations are required periodically, the frequency of which depends on the use of the equipment and guarding.

As well as examining presses and safeguards to ensure they are safe to use, our engineers advise on specific components that must be dismantled and examined to meet your statutory obligations. To minimise disruption, we aim to fit in with maintenance/shutdown periods keeping downtime to a minimum while ensuring you comply with all current legislation.

The Thurra team is a good source of reference and guidance on these requirements; more detailed information is available in the HSE guide to the safe operation and maintenance of power presses:

Power press and press brake inspection

Contact us

Find out how Thurra can help with your engineering inspection requirements.

Common defects found with PUWER inspections

Our Engineers are out in the field inspecting plant and equipment day in, day out. From this experience, we have compiled a series of reports of the most common defects they find, some tips on what you can do to stay safe in between inspections and simple preventative measures. Remember, some of these defects are not only inconvenient but may in some cases be fatal to operators or those in the vicinity.

Lighting Gantries – rarely seen and often overlooked

Failure of lighting gantries can be attributed to any number of reasons, including but not limited to; structural components becoming overloaded, the gantry and support mechanisms being damaged or faulty, inadequate bracing or the ground support giving way. Lighting gantries move very infrequently and as such are not exposed to changing forces. However, they are very rarely seen and are very often overlooked. The collapse of a lighting gantry at anytime would be a disaster but imagine a collapse during a school’s nativity performance or sixth form prom. There are several health and safety requirements for the inspection of lighting gantries. These are:
  1. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  2. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  3. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  4. Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
The type of inspection and their frequencies should be determined by HSE guidance for the interpretation of LOLER and thorough risk assessment as required by PUWER 98. Annual inspections can be conducted by Thurra to meet the requirements of the statutory legislation and we will then report our findings to the school or college representative. Any areas of concern that require immediate action will be communicated in person at site by the Thurra engineer and followed up with a report of examination.

Machinery Guarding – Why Inspect?

The are several regulations that are enforceable and thereby must be adhered to with regards to machinery guarding. These are:
  • The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 as amended
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98).
  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The purpose of an inspection of guarded equipment is to identify whether equipment that has the potential to cause a health and safety risk can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely. Any deterioration detected can then be placed in a safe configuration until repair action takes place. It is vitally important that an inspection takes place for equipment containing guards where significant risks to health and safety may arise from incorrect installation, reinstallation, deterioration or any other circumstances. These inspections must be carried out by suitably qualified and experienced personnel at set frequencies. For example Pillar Drills, Chop Saws, Lathes and other such equipment should be inspected. The type of inspection and its frequencies should be determined through risk assessment as required by PUWER 98. Thurra’s engineers will inspect all guarding to determine that they are fit for purpose and that they have not deteriorated or been tampered with. All inspections are reported to the customer with areas where remedial action is required. Any such areas are reported in person to the site representative by Thurra’s engineer before they leave site.

The 5 most common defects of power presses

Power Presses are unforgiving machines. When in operation, they store a large amount of energy ready for the next operation.

To prevent coming in to contact with stored energy, there are safety systems which are incorporated into the design. When operated with these appropriate controls in place they will continue working safely for many years. When these safety systems are interrupted or bypassed there is the potential risk of workplace injuries, such as amputations of fingers, hands, and potentially even arms.

Overtime, all items of workplace equipment start to deteriorate and potentially become unsafe. Any such situation can have several consequences, from loss of production, to injury to the operator or others in the vicinity.

Anyone who operates power presses should refer to the HSE’s guidance documentation HSG236 which, if followed, will identify the measures to be taken to comply with part IV of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). HSG236 is divided into two parts: Part 1 deals with good practice in the maintenance of power presses and Part 2 is aimed at the thorough inspection and tests that are to be carried out by the engineer surveyor.

Thurra’s experienced engineers have extensive practical and theoretical knowledge as well as experience to detect defects or weaknesses. Armed with such data they can determine how far these defects or weaknesses will affect the safe operation of the power press.

Thurra’s engineers will make their assessment independently and impartially. With only one aim, and that is to ensure the continued safe operation of the power press.

5 of the most common defects associated with power presses are:

1. Protective guards. On numerous occasions we have found guards to be defective due to the operational demands put on the press or that the guards are disabled to increase production. Such a protective guard is a pullback safety bar, which is set up to prevent the operators hand coming into deliberate or accidental contact with the moving parts of the press.

Damage / disabled guarding increases the risk of the operator coming into direct contact with the power press when it is operating. In such circumstances there is the real danger of the operator becoming entangled in the moving parts of the power press and being subject to severe injury. This is often to such an extent that the only course of action is amputation. Thurra’s engineers at every inspection check, test and measure all guarding to ensure that the operator does not come into contact with the press during its movement.

2. Broken foot shroud. Foot shrouds are fitted to prevent the accidental operation of the press. The operation of the press has to follow a sequence of actions which will ensure that the press will only operate when all the safety measures are in place. The operator must carry out a deliberate action to allow the press to operate in a safe manner.

The integrity of the foot shroud is assessed at every inspection by Thurra’s engineers. Any deterioration in the foot shroud is communicated to the site representative, highlighting the potential hazard that exists. This is carried out before leaving site and is also recorded on the inspection report.

3. Cracked Pitman Screw / Pitman Cup. The pitman screw is the part which connects the ram and crankshaft and is subject to constant impact during operation. If the pitman screw was to fail it would present a significant loss of production and may also cause damage to other components.

Thurra’s engineers conduct non-destructive testing of the pitman screw. This identifies defects that can’t normally be seen by the naked eye. If any concerns are indicated, they are then discussed with the site representative and the service engineer. Early identification of a cracked pitman screw can save a far more costly breakdown and avoid the loss of production.

4. Cracks in the clutch key / keyway. The clutch key withstands a significant amount of dynamic stress when in operation and is therefore prone to wear and potential cracking of not only the key / keyway but other connecting components. At the thorough examination, the clutch key / keyway and the other connecting components are subject to inspection by both visual and non-destructive testing by Magnetic Particle Inspection.

As with the Pitman screw, Thurra’s engineers conduct extensive non-destructive testing of the clutch key and keyway. If necessary, an early indication of the repair action required is provided, therefore preventing any non-promulgated loss of production. All areas of concern are communicated to the site representative and service engineer prior to leaving site.

5. General housekeeping, hydraulic leaks, damaged / poorly fitted cable glands. By maintaining a high standard of general maintenance, the condition and operating environment can be improved. Oil leaks create a risk of slipping to the operator and people in the local area. There is also a fire risk, especially if there is an ignition source nearby. Poorly fitted electrical cables with incorrectly fitted cable glands could be that ignition source. Any slip, trip or fire have the devastating consequence of injuring personnel and potential destruction of very expensive machinery.

At every examination, Thurra engineers look at all areas of housekeeping and before leaving site we report all our observations to the site representative.