Risk is inherent in business. The act of opening an establishment is, in itself, a risky venture. Printing companies share many of the same risks that most manufacturing centers pose with a few notable exceptions. Being aware of these risks may help you avoid becoming subject to them.
While no list can truly detail every risk that may be encountered, these topics outline some major concerns.
Physical Injuries to Workers
Printing requires moving paper; often a good deal of it at a time. Improper lifting can cause back injuries and back injuries cost money in lost time and increases in workers' compensation premiums. Train personnel in the proper lifting methods. Provide paper handlers, especially feeder operators and cutter operators with back support belts and require that they wear them on the job.
In addition, train supervisors to monitor lifting practices and correct workers that may be putting themselves, and you, at risk.
Another high risk activity occurs when a worker must replace a blade on a paper cutter. The weight of the blade combined with its sharpness, even when considered "dull," is more than sufficient to sever limbs. Only allow employees with adequate training and physical capabilities to attempt this task.
The "rush" nature of the printing industry often requires evening and weekend production. Never allow a press operator to work in an empty building; always have at least one other person within shouting distance to offer assistance should an accident occur.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces laws regarding safety in the workplace. One aspect of their involvement is with the maintenance of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
A business must maintain a binder or file with a MSDS for every product in their facility that requires one. In the printing industry these include blanket wash, ink, padding compound, blanket fix, developers, activators among others. Suppliers of products will provide the MSDS upon request; ask for updates annually.
Don't allow extraneous chemicals to linger in your shop. If you find a partial can of spray paint or oil that has served its purpose and you don't have a MSDS for it, dispose of it properly at once. Fines for first-time violations are exceedingly painful; repeat offenses can put you out of business.
You can also hire, for a reasonable fee, a local company to audit your business once or twice a year for OSHA compliance. Not only will a firm keep the MSDS files current, it may also be able to issue required licenses to employees who operate lift trucks and to inspect the facility to ensure there are no glaring violations, which can be money well spent.
No one is perfect and despite safeguards and procedures, mistakes will occur in any activity. In printing, mistakes most often appear as production errors. A job might print in the wrong color, an absent-minded press operator may let scrap find its way into finished product, a cutter operator may turn the top sheet of a stack of paper the wrong way and destroy an entire job with one cut, or a correction on a proof might be overlooked.
The best systems have redundancy; a paper cutter checks the rule sheet for the press operator, the pre-press technician matches the color book to the color bar, etc. Often, the second set of eyes finds what the first overlook.
Insurance companies also offer coverage for "Errors and Omissions." While it won't cover things like the wrong color on a job, it does protect you in the event someone contracts you to print something later found to be libelous.