VIC: safety alert issued following fatal turret punch press incident

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Saturday, 13 March, 2021 - 12:15
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries when entering the operating space of plant.

The alert was issued following an incident involving a CNC turret punch press, which is designed to punch shapes into sheet metal by following programmed instructions.

When the machine is in operation, powered components can move suddenly at high speed and without warning, such as the carriage holding the sheet metal and the table sections supporting it.

The operator of a CNC turret punch press was recently crushed when he entered the plant’s operational space between the carriage and a ball transfer table that abutted the edge of the press’s primary table.

The alert said employees are at high risk of death or serious injury when systems of work do not prevent access to danger areas of powered plant, such as moving parts and trapping spaces.

For example, depending on the various components of a turret punch press and its proximity to other environmental and physical features, a crush space can sometimes be created. This can be a temporary opening where a person can enter and become trapped.

Administrative controls, such as training and line marking on the floor to deter employees from entering into a plant’s danger areas, cannot be relied upon to adequately control the risks associated with plant.

The alert said the risk of being injured by a turret punch press should be controlled by:

  • Installing a system to control access into the operating area of the plant. For example, physical perimeter fencing with interlocked access gates or a presence sensing system (light curtain) around the perimeter of the plant. A combination of physical fencing and presence sensing system may also be appropriate. Consider and account for factors such as the rundown time of the plant.
  • Using captive or trapped key systems to manage isolation and access during activities such as maintenance, repair, inspection, servicing and cleaning. This may be used in conjunction in the access control system discussed above.
  • Ensuring interlocked guards are fitted to prevent access to any moving parts and nip points (points where rotating or reciprocating parts move toward each other) while the plant is in use.


The alert said the following points should also be considered:

  • Consult the manufacturer before making any modifications to the plant.
  • Provide emergency stop systems to shut down operation of the plant.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions.
  • Provide employees with adequate information, instruction, training and supervision prior to and when using the plant.
  • Provide and maintain adequate warning signs as a constant reminder to employees of the potential hazards associated with the plant.
  • Keep the work area clear of unnecessary equipment, rubbish and other clutter.