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Regulatory Updates

OSHA’s Call for Comments on Mechanical Power Press Standard Changes

September 30, 2021

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is authorized by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) to assure employers provide safe and healthful work conditions free of recognized hazards and by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and technical assistance. OSHA has recently published a call for comment regarding mechanical power presses. The reason behind OSHA’s request is that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus standard for mechanical power presses has been updated numerous times since the implementation of OSHA’s standard. OSHA wants to know from those invested in the use of mechanical power presses if they should update their standard and how closely it should follow the current ANSI consensus standard. They also want to know what types of presses should be covered by the standard, training, injury reporting and many other topics.


In the early 1970’s, OSHA promulgated a “machine specific regulation” for mechanical power presses, found in 29 CFR Subpart O, 1910.217. Since the development of this standard, very few changes have been made. OSHA’s 1910.217 Regulation was built on information obtained from ANSI B11.1 using a version that was updated for OSHA in 1971. Since 1971, ANSI has updated their B11.1 multiple times, but OSHA has not updated the mechanical power press standard at an equal pace. Every update ANSI makes adds new, more stringent requirements than the previous version, and the most recent update was made in 2020.

Mechanical power presses require that guards and/or devices be in place to reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards at the “point of operation”. The point of operation is where the press dies, or the mechanical part that comes together to form the material, closes. The standard also includes minimum distances from point of operation and maximum width of an opening. These are all intended to ensure that an employee cannot accidentally come into contact with the point of operation causing potentially life altering injuries. Awareness barriers often utilize chains, railing or cables to completely surround the equipment in an effort to stop employees from intentionally or accidentally walking into the hazard area. Light curtains came to be in the mid-1950s and consist of a mounted transmitter and receiver using an infra-red light that would create a sensing field. Crossing this field would stop machinery from operating. Two-hand controls are controls that require the operator to maintain two hands on the equipment in a safe location while in motion or operation.

Another important part from the standard that we need to understand has to do with reporting of injuries related to the operation of a mechanical power press. Most safety professionals know all too well the requirements to record work-related illness and injuries on the OSHA 300 form and the requirement for the reporting of fatalities and multiple hospitalizations to OSHA. However, not all are familiar with the fact that OSHA also requires that businesses report an occurrence related to a point of operation injury of an employee within 30 days of the incident. Many safety professionals often overlook or do not fully understand these OSHA reporting requirements related to the mechanical power press.

Who Is Affected?

The release date of the request for comments on the mechanical power presses was July 28, 2021. The agency is requesting public input as they consider updating the standard. OSHA wants to know how they should align with the ANSI B11.1 standard, the types of presses that should be covered, use and certification of equipment, presence-sensing device systems, as well as requirements for modifications, training and injury reporting. Any feedback given to OSHA will play into if the standard is updated, and to what extent. Comments are due by October 26, 2021 and can be submitted electronically at

TRC encourages you to look at the current standard and how any changes, no matter how big or small, could impact your operations. It is important to voice your opinion as OSHA will take into account how the changes may impact business operations. If you agree that OSHA needs to update the standard to come into alignment with current technology and ANSI mechanical press issues, you should take the time to give feedback to OSHA. If you think that the current requirements within the ANSI standard are too limiting, but could see other potential benefits, you should also address that during the call for comments. It is important that businesses who will be impacted by the potential changes take the opportunity to comment to OSHA before the upcoming deadline.


How TRC Can Help:

The TRC team is here to help you navigate the current regulations and what the proposed changes could mean to your business operations. Our experienced team can also guide you about the best ways to provide for the safe operation of mechanical power presses.

TRC’s experienced safety professionals and industrial hygienists are here to help with OSHA audit preparation and all other health and safety compliance needs. Our skilled team can provide on-site audits which may include a thorough site visit, observing worker activities, conducting employee interviews and records review. We also offer remote and hybrid audits utilizing mobile applications and audit links.

To learn more about how TRC can help please contact Brian Godfrey at

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