Safety First!

May 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

Kieth Stevens

Anyone who works, manages, or owns a manufacturing type of business needs to have safety measures in place to safeguard against accidents or serious injury.  OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has many guidelines and training products to help with attaining a safe working/manufacturing environment, but how do safe practices really translate to a printing shop?  For one thing, the safer the workplace, the more cost-effective and productive a company can become.  This also translates to lower costs on insurance, worker’s compensation, fewer days missed at work, and so on down the line.

Our Western Regional Sales Manager, Kieth Stevens, has had over 33 years experience in the print business and knows first-hand how important safety is in a print shop.  Here he is with more on this topic:

“I travel a lot for my job and what often strikes me is how some shops are very diligent in regards to workplace/employee safety and how others are not.  Usually there is a correlation between high diligence in safety and the quality of the work going out the door.

Take it from me, I have been injured many times during my career, usually from my inexperience at the time or through the negligence of others.  But if the safety features had been in place, these accidents would have happened less often.  Luckily I am here to write about it; I have heard horror stories of death and dismemberment.

I can personally say that I have been knocked down by machines, I have had cans of spray adhesive explode and cause fires.  I have had spot remover injure my eyes and have had rashes on my hands from exposure to chemicals. I have stepped into pails of ink, have been electrocuted (several times and fortunately, lived to tell about it) and I’ve had gashes and slashes on my head, hands, arms and legs from various reasons.  One accident even caused a broken rib, and I haven’t even begun to count the many bruises…

The frustrating thing is, most of these accidents could have been prevented with some simple safety procedures.   For example, a little common sense can go a long way but sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Here are a few simple tips:

Walk through your business or print shop and check all the labels for your inks, spray adhesives, etc.  What are the safety precautions recommended on the labels?   Spray adhesive, for example, should be used in a well-vented area, away from any open flames or sparks.  Workers should be made aware to check where the spout of the nozzle is pointed to before spraying – simple, I know, yet I’ve seen spray adhesive inhaled by accident or sprayed into eyes.

If you use any corrosive liquids (such as cleaning fluids or burn-out inks), be sure to wear appropriate gloves.

Check your fuse boxes and electrical connections for any open or exposed wires and be sure any cords on the ground are taped down or secured so that no one can trip over them.  

Make sure that all machines are shipped or assembled with the correct safety features necessary to keep the operators safe.  If you have older machines or have purchased used equipment, be sure that all the safety features are still intact or reconnected.  Even on a manual printer, there may be springs that could break off or pinch a finger.

Keeping your shop clean is another big factor.  Not only will your inventory of shirts and the printed product be kept cleaner, but excessive lint is also a fire hazard.  Be sure to clean lint off your vents and venting tubes at least once a year.  Make sure to place dirty rags in an appropriate container to also help prevent fires.

Most print shops have flash units and/or dryers and these equipments also require some safety treatments.  The stand for your flash unit, for example, should be sturdy and strong enough so that the unit doesn’t tip over if someone accidentally bumps against it.

Keep aisles open and be sure that exits are clearly marked and not blocked or locked so that they cannot be used.  Many times you can ask the local fire department or your insurance company to do an inspection and they will tell you what you can do to create a safer working environment.

Flammable materials should be properly marked and stored. 

Another major injury prevention technique is ergonomics.  Besides having desk chairs and computer work stations set at the right height, ergonomics can play a huge role when you print manually.  If your printer is set too high, you will expend more energy to print and may cause permanent injury to your back, shoulders, and arms.

Be sure to not just familiarize yourself with everything in your shop but train all your employees as well.  Cross-train employees on safety and prevention techniques.

Make sure fire extinguishers are properly marked and in an area where they can be easily found.  Check to ascertain that your fire extinguisher is working correctly and have a first aid box handy as well.

This is by no means a complete list of safety items.  All I am saying is to just be careful; take a minute and look around your work area.  See if there is something that could be improved.  Follow all the safety instructions that are given with your machine or equipment.  Bring anything that looks unsafe to your supervisor’s attention.  

Keep safe!”

For more on International Coatings‘ products, please visit our website at


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