Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Features Machine Safety Opinion
Seven years later: Is your old or new press equipment CSA Z142 compliant?


It has been seven years since the CSA Z142-02 safety standard was first issued in Canada, calling for (among many things) dual-channel control reliability of all safety monitoring devices on presses and press brakes. However, if you speak with many in the industry, including even some inspectors, the general opinion seems to be that many of these potentially dangerous pieces of equipment haven’t been retrofitted to meet these requirements — and most unfortunately of all, serious accidents continue to occur.

Non-compliance frequently involves equipment purchased prior to 2002, but sometimes it begins with manufacturers that don’t ship their presses or press brakes equipped with the required safety configuration. The reason for this could be a lack of education or available knowledge about the details of these standards, as well as the fact there is little oversight and that the burden of a final inspection rests with the end user and not the equipment provider.

And in some cases, even when equipment providers do say up front that a piece of equipment meets a particular safety standard, sometimes it’s found out later it doesn’t. This is not necessarily a case of purposefully misleading a client but is instead a case of ignorance due to poor communications about what these safety requirements are.

The fact that many presses and press brakes are shipping with non-compliant press controls, wiring and safety devices will also likely soon become a North America-wide issue in the second half of 2009 as ANSI prepares to update their B11 press and press brake safety standards to include the need for dual-channel, diverse-redundant and control-reliable monitoring.

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However, often when new equipment arrives at client plants and is checked for Pre-Start Health & Safety Review purposes by a professional engineer, it rapidly becomes clear they aren’t outfitted with dual-channel control reliability. After uncovering the deficiency, companies must search for a solution and find safety integrators that have already developed specific press control units to meet these standards. For example, Reflex Integration’s Command Stamp Press Control was introduced in 2003, shortly after Z142’s introduction, and is now installed on more than 450 mechanical, hydraulic stamping presses and press brakes in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. After inspecting the press or press brake, a safety retrofit work plan is then developed, which can include updated control, light curtains and laser monitoring systems.

So how can press manufacturers and purchasers begin to address these safety deficiencies? The first way is to educate yourself and your colleagues with exactly what these safety requirements are. If you’re a manufacturer, meet with a professional engineer with experience in the CSA Z142 and ANSI B11 standards; let them look at your equipment, alert you to any deficiencies, help define what those deficiencies are and provide some rapid solutions that can be purchased to bolt on or integrate into your own control panels.

Purchasers are well advised to exercise caveat emptor, or buyer beware, when purchasing press equipment and actually state in purchase documentation that the manufacturer is responsible to ensure equipment meets the relevant safety standards. As the same bodies that issue the safety standards also do electrical standards (such as CSA), simply being told a press is “CSA certified” doesn’t guarantee it adheres to Z142, which specifically applies to these press safety issues.

It will take many companies impacted by this safety dilemma to be advocates for inclusion of the required safety features in the equipment they buy or manufacture. It seems this may be the only way to finally push through these new levels of safety as current inspection and enforcement appears to be, in this writer’s opinion, deficient to the point of failure.

It is unclear precisely why this is the case, but once companies recognize they will no longer be able to get away with not completing these safety upgrades, those hesitating to complete the retrofits will get off the fence and finally provide these higher levels of safety necessary in advanced press controls and safety equipment.

As it stands, and as is often the case, it will be the unsuspecting employees who operate these presses — who will continue to be seriously hurt, or even killed — that suffer the consequences.

Add to this the fact that these safety requirements may soon be expanding across North America and we can only hope enough impetus is created to have these requirements built into every piece of press equipment sold regardless of where it was originally manufactured. It is only in this way companies can deliver a safe environment for their staff and be able to take advantage of available safety protection for press and press brake equipment.

Jeff Ashcroft is a commentator on safety issues in power press operations with Newmarket, Ont.-based Reflex Integration, a supplier of power press safety upgrades and manufacturer of the Command Stamp CSA Z142-02/B11-compliant press controller. He can be reached at (905) 836-8103, at jeff@reflexintegration.com or on Twitter @Reflex_.