Safeguarding bookbinding machines in printing

The guidance in the following tables describes commonly accepted and practicable safeguards for the significant hazards on some bookbinding machines that were manufactured or refurbished before the publication of European Standard BS EN 1010-4:2000 Safety of machinery – Safety requirements for the design and construction of printing and paper converting machines: Bookbinding, paper converting and finishing machines.  

  • Sheet folding machines
  • In-line folders, sheeters
  • Small folder gluer machines
  • Stitching, riveting, eyeletting and attaching machines (with manual feeding)
  • Gatherer-Stitcher-Trimmer (GST)
  • Adhesive (perfect) binding machines
  • Paper drills
  • Book sewing – Automatic/semi-automatic machines
  • Book signature presses – used for pressing hard book covers
  • Book presses
  • Book production lines
  • Back rounding and pressing machines
  • Backlining and head banding
  • Book nipping (smashing)
  • Case-making and Casing-in machine

For newer machines (manufactured or refurbished from November 2003) please refer to the Standard. See also general safeguarding guidance on machinery safety in the printing industry.

Sheet-fed folding machines

In-feed rollers in-running nips
Fixed or interlocking guards with narrow slots for sheet entry which meet the safety distances specified in BS EN ISO 13857 Safety of machinery – Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs
Folding rollers in-running nips
Use combination of guards, the machine’s frame and buckle plates 
In-running nips associated with drive tapes and in particular tensioning pulleys
Provide in-running nip bars, or 
Transport/feed tables positioned 6 mm or less from the in-running belt/pulley nip 
Access to folding knives 
Interlocking guard (also covering delivery area of the buckle-folding unit), or 
Localised fixed/interlocking guard if above not practicable
Cutting, creasing and perforating devices intakes/danger zones
Fixed or Interlocking guards
Precautions also need to be taken to prevent access to the periphery of running slitters and perforators
Access to machinery during setting
Machine operation with interlocking guards open by two-hand hold-to-run control. Zones with restricted view have interlocking guards and selector switch provided. Run speed should be as slow as possible.

In-line folders, sheeters, die cutters etc


General mechanical hazards including in-running nips at: 

  • nip/pinch rollers
  • cross-association rollers
  • folding drum
  • cutting cylinders
  • cross-perforating cylinders 
  • jaw cylinder
  • quarter folder
  • delivery and pulley belt nips

Enclosed by fixed and/or interlocking guards, and

Interlocking guards with guard locking where there is high risk of severe injury e.g. chopper folder and/or if rundown time allows access to dangerous parts once the guard is opened

Arrangements for remote control of folder settings (electrical/electronic or mechanical), or

Localised guarding where guards enclosing whole machine not reasonably practicable 

Bending rollers (outside totally enclosed area)
Fit ‘nose’ guard at the base of the former, and 
Adjustable guards for parts of bending rollers behind the former.
Delivery area (outside totally enclosed area)
Delivery Tunnel guard 
Hold-to-run control to enable operator access to delivery area to remove incomplete copy whilst machine run speed as slow as possible
Draw rollers in-running nips
Fixed in-running nip bars or interlocking guards
Access to Rotary Knife
Dual circuit interlocking, and 
Interlocking guard with guard locking if rundown time allows access to dangerous parts once the guard opened

Adhesive (perfect) binding machines


Book clamps opening/closing and indexing during normal operation

  • shear/crush

Interlocking guard.
Additional localised fixed and trip devices may be necessary at hand-feeding stations.
Access to clamps during make ready operations
Use hold-to-run controls at slowest speed when interlocking guard open. Danger zones outside operators view remain guarded. 
Limit hold-to-run speed to 10 m/min maximum if interlocked guards are open for manual feeding during set up.
Access to miller cutter
Interlocking guard and a self-adjusting/adjustable local guard.
Prevent access whilst the cutter is running down by using braked motors or interlocking guard with guard locking.


  • burns from hot melt ones

Provide temperature control with limit monitoring together with suitable screens or covers and remote methods for refilling the adhesive.

Feed end 

  • traps

Hand fed cover hoppers separating elements designed to prevent traps. Provision of residual pile monitoring.
Automatic fed machines can use tunnel-type guards with a 550 mm safety distance to nearest danger zone.

Delivery end-movement of book carriage

  • shear traps

Fixed or interlocked tunnel-type guard. Minimum safety distance to danger zone is 550 mm.

Book production lines


  • Traps created by separating elements on the book cover feeder
  • Traps created by formes in back rounding and pressing sections
  • In-running nips in the cover bending and rounding sections;
  • Crushing/shearing zones in  casing-in section
  • In-running nips on the feed and delivery conveyor belt
  • Hot parts on pre-heater
  • Hot glue sections
  • In-running nips at gauze and head banding unwinding rollers 
  • Knives on head banding and backlining section
  • Provide fixed or interlocking guards with openings and safety distances in accordance with BS EN ISO 13857 
  • Limited inch operation or hold-to run maximum crawl speed of 5 m/min with interlocked guards open 
  •  Hold-to run speed over 10m/min only acceptable if two-hand controls provided AND all other interlocking guards are closed, zones and selector switch provided, the hold-to-run speed is the slowest possible and does not exceed a maximum of 20 m/min.
  • Emergency stop buttons on each control panel
  • Pre-start warning device where vision restricted


  • In-fill blocks at pre-heater
  • Provide pictograms warning of hot parts 
  • Operate pre-heater by hold-to-run control when interlocking guard open
  • Enable glue replenishment during production without opening guards. Hot melt pans should have temperature control and limit temperature monitoring.
  • Nip bars at remaining in-running nips when interlocking guard open
Back rounding and pressing machines used to round book signature backs and to complete forming process


  • In-running nips on the feed and delivery belts. 
  • Traps on tipping section 
  • Traps and hot parts on pre-heater section.
  • Traps and shear points on pre-forming, rounding and backing section.

Automatic machines:

  • Fixed and interlocking guards.
  • Safety distance of 550mm from danger zone at feed and delivery end.
  • Provide pictograms warning of hot parts if pre-heater accessible after interlocking guard opened.

Hand-fed machines: 

  • Prevent access to the feed/rounding rollers during powered movement. 
  • Provide two-hand controls and interlocking guards.

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