OSHA Moves on a Power Press Standard Revision

OSHA’s mechanical power press standard has needed updating for a very long time. Is something finally happening?

What is a power press?

A power press machine is used for cutting, shaping, blending, and pressing metal. These machines are found in manufacturing and industrial settings throughout the country. While the mechanical power press is the type most widely used, there are also hydraulic and pneumatic power presses on the market. Based on the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Survey, approximately 560,000 workers use some type of power press each day.

The existing standard

The OSHA standard covering Mechanical Power Presses (29 CFR §1910.217) is old. The existing standard was written in 1971 and is based upon the 1971 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standard. There were minor updates in 1975, 1978, and 1988. In 2007, there was also an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” (ANPRM) that never went anywhere. Because the Mechanical Power Press Standard hasn’t changed much in over forty years, many things are missing from its purview. These machines — and the various safety technologies that can be built into them — have evolved considerably since the 1970s.

In the fall of 2018, OSHA made it clear that they considered the current standard inadequate:

“… The current OSHA standard on mechanical power presses does not address the use of hydraulic or pneumatic power presses. Additionally, the existing standard is approximately 40 years old and does not address technological changes.” — Fall 2018 Unified Agenda

There has been no further mention of the matter until very recently when OSHA sent out a call for stakeholder input regarding a possible update. Is the Mechanical Power Press Standard finally getting a makeover? We’ll have to wait and see. If you’re interested in providing OSHA with information and feedback, stakeholders have until October 26, 2021, to respond. OSHA says it intends to use the information it receives to determine what action it may take “to reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining worker safety.”

What does OSHA want to know?

The Request for Information (RFI) is detailed and wide-ranging. The existing standard doesn’t cover hydraulic and pneumatic power presses. Should it? Do you have an opinion about whether an updated OSHA power press standard needs to follow the current ANSI standard?

The existing OSHA standard also fails to fully consider the use of presence-sensing device initiation (PSDI) systems and how these devices impact worker safety. Who installs and inspects a PSDI system? Is third-party validation necessary?

OSHA is also inviting stakeholder input about other topics, including the requirements for making power press modifications, reporting injuries, and training staff.

Comments may be submitted electronically, including attachments, at the eRulmaking Portal. Follow the online instructions.

If you have any questions about OSHA’s rulemaking process, responding to this RFI, or any other compliance issue facing your business, feel free to contact us for answers.

About the Author: James Laboe

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