Punch and shear machines

These machines can perform a number of functions, including shearing, punching, notching or bending.

While this guidance has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe.

Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

On larger machines, operations may be disconnected from the prime mover while it isn’t in use. However, usually the machine in use and a number of tools nearby will operate at the same time. If the punch and shear is large enough, two operators may work together, using two pedals without interference.

Modern punch and shear machines have hydraulic prime movers. In older machines, the energy driving the tool is stored in a revolving flywheel. A clutch connects the flywheel to the crankshaft, which in turn drives the tool. At the start of the stroke the operator engages the clutch to connect the flywheel energy to the crankshaft. A key clutch connects the flywheel and tool for one revolution of the flywheel.

In hydraulic machines, energy for the tool comes from pressure in a hydraulic ram. Hydraulic oil flows into the ram, controlling whether the tools moves, or how fast.

Figure 1: Punch and shear machine

[image] Punch and shear machines with labels and red arrows pointing to key components

Hazards

  • Contact with tools
  • Heavy lifting
  • Contact or impact from moving parts/ejected tools
  • Noise
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Contact or impact from unexpected movement (during maintenance, cleaning & repairs)

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection

Tasks

Task – Load/unload materials

Hazard

Contact with tools

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation of fingers or hands
  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • FIX (hinged) guarding to prevent access to cutting area.
  • FIT a presence sensing device that stops the machine when entry is detected.
  • FIT guide bars to reduce the need for viewing the workpiece, but still allowing it to be placed correctly.
  • RESTRICT workpiece size to the minimum safe size.
  • ISOLATE point of closure at the tool set in use.

Tools can cause serious harm to the operator, particularly if the operator is trying to hold small workpieces too close to tool parts.

Hazard

Heavy lifting

Harm

  • Strain injury

Controls

  • PROVIDE supports for larger workpieces.
  • Metal cut-offs should fall into a bin for collection.

Task – Machine operation

Hazard

Contact or impact from moving parts/ ejected tools

Harm

  • Bruising
  • Fractures
  • Piercing injuries
  • Cuts

Controls

  • FOLLOW manufacturer’s guidance for working with toughened steels.
  • Design SHOULD:
    • ENSURE tools are interlocked (for older mechanical machines) to prevent unexpected movement
    • ENSURE that shutting down the main source of power prevents unsafe operation
    • ALLOW sole operation, so that no-one else needs to approach the machine.
  • COVER pedals to prevent unintentional stroke starts.

Broken tooling can eject from the machine, becoming a projectile.

Metal pieces may move or change shape as they are worked on.

Task – Load/unload materials

Hazard

Contact with tools

Harm

  • Deep cuts or amputation of fingers or hands
  • Crush injuries

Controls

  • FIX (hinged) guarding to prevent access to cutting area.
  • FIT a presence sensing device that stops the machine when entry is detected.
  • FIT guide bars to reduce the need for viewing the workpiece, but still allowing it to be placed correctly.
  • RESTRICT workpiece size to the minimum safe size.
  • ISOLATE point of closure at the tool set in use.

Other (non-mechanical) hazards

Hazard

Noise

Harm

  • Hearing damage or loss

Controls

  • REDUCE noise level by isolating machines or enclosing within noise barriers.
  • ASSESS noise levels.
  • ARRANGE hearing screenings.
  • ALWAYS WEAR hearing protection.

A safe noise level over an eight hour day is 85dB(A). A punch and shear machine may exceed this noise intensity.

Hazard

Slips, trips and falls

Harm

  • Trapping
  • Cuts
  • Bruising

Controls

  • KEEP up-to-date housekeeping procedures.
  • KEEP the area around shear clear of slip and trip hazards.

Task – Maintenance, cleaning & repairs

Hazard

Contact or impact from unexpected movement

Harm

  • Cuts
  • Crush injuries
  • Bruising
  • Fractures

Controls

  • LOCK-OUT all power supplies before maintenance, cleaning & repairs.
  • KEEP written safety procedures.
  • ARRANGE regular inspections by a competent person.
  • REMOVE or LOCK-OUT machines that fail inspection, and DO NOT USE until repaired or replaced.
  • After any alterations, a new hazard assessment MUST be carried out, and safety improvements made.

Download fact sheet

Punch and shear machines (PDF 248 KB)