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All too often, punch presses are to blame for tragic factory or manufacturing work injuries. Employers should be sure to train their workers especially well on how to use the punch press safely and how to engage all of the guards and safety devices. Employers can be negligent by not maintaining their punch press or by not keeping it clean and free of dust and debris. Amputations, lacerations, broken bones, wrongful death, and more are all possible results of punch press job accidents. We have extensive experience representing workers who have had punch press accident injuries and winning their cases.
Punch presses are used to create holes or letters in sheet metal or other workpieces. They can also be used for stamping, bending, shearing, punching, converting, and for other assembly operations. Some are manually operated, some are air-driven with a pneumatic cylinder, some have hydraulic assistance, some are mechanical punch presses with a rotary motor, some are servo-controlled presses, and others are computer numerically controlled (CNC). Punch press operators determine which size of press to use based on the material being cut. The most common size is a 30 ton punch press but there are many other sizes including 15 ton punch press, 33 ton mechanical presses, 45 ton power press, 50 ton punch presses, 60 ton punch presses, 90 ton power presses, 110 ton punch presses, 150 ton punch presses, 400 ton power press, 900 ton punch press, 1,200 ton punch press and many sizes in between those listed. The machine uses a die set with punches and dies that, when forced together, can form a hole in sheet metal. The dies are removable from the ram or plunger. The slugs, or parts of the sheet metal that are cut out, are removed through the die. The ram goes from top dead center (TDC) to bottom dead center (BDC) through their stroke. Though not as common today, flywheel drives can power punch press machines using a Pitman arm. Mutli-station punch presses, on the other hand, are still common and they usually include turrets, progressive dies, transfer systems, multi-tool die sits and rotary tools. Some punch presses even have loading and stacking systems that allow the unit to complete a full process with little operator intervention.
Some power presses use full revolution braking systems that use raised keys and dogs whereas others (generally newer) punch presses use part revolution which have band-type brakes that use air brakes as well. The hydraulic punch presses that use a hydraulic cylinder can be valve controlled or valve and feedback controlled. Another machine that is similar to a punch press is the stamping press. It uses a bolster plate and a ram to similarly make holes in sheet metal but it can also be used to deform the metal. These may have single-acting presses or double-acting presses. The most efficient use a punch press machine or stamp press machine is when it is controlled by a CAD/CAM program. These programs are often hooked up to presses with automatic loading and unloading. There are also heated presses, obi presses, knuckle joint presses, hydraulic presses, lab pellet presses, offset presses, printing presses, metal punch presses, bridge type punch presses, linear type punch presses, deep throat punch presses, mechanical punch presses, bending machines, metal processing machines, tablet presses, punching machines, cutting press, straightening presses, turret punch presses, high speed punch presses, precision automatic punch presses, in and out shuttles, horn presses, pneumatic punch presses, closed single-point punch presses, and many more. Given the scores of types, safety concerns, maintenance needs and functionalities of presses around, it is important for all employers to train employees on each machine they utilize.
Part of workers’ compensation insurance is that it is the exclusive remedy that employees have against their employer in the case of a work injury most of the time. There are some exceptions including for injuries, amputations and wrongful deaths that occur due to a power press or punch press. If it can be proven that the employer “specifically authorized” the removal or tampering of the safety devices and guards for the power press, than more direct action against the employer is allowed by law. Here is a direct excerpt from California Labor Code 4558 regarding this specific circumstance.
An employee, or his or her dependents in the event of the employee’s death, may bring an action at law for damages against the employer where the employee’s injury or death is proximately caused by the employer’s knowing removal of, or knowing failure to install, a point of operation guard on a power press, and this removal or failure to install is specifically authorized by the employer under conditions known by the employer to create a probability of serious injury or death.
Given the enormity of the punch press and just how technical, precise and powerful it needs to be, many of the makers of punch presses specialize in it. Some of the larger makers and suppliers of power presses include JFY, Heim, Reosselle, the Heim Group, Amada, Premier, Sterling Machinery, Raskin, Specialty Equipment and Design, Foremost Machinery Corp, Komatsu America Industries, Allied Machinery Group, Macrodyne Technologies, UniPunch, Michaels Machines, Metal Surgery Milwaukee, Carrell Corp, International Crystal Laboratories, Advanced Hydraulics, Betenbender, Action Machinery, Weber Knapp, Westbrook Engineering, Hildebrand Machinery, Gomaplast Machinery, Chisholm, Boyd and White, Pioneer-Dietecs, Starcyl USA Corp, Nu-Tool Industries, Warwick, WAND, and Ironcrafter. These companies make or sell punch presses that range from 15 ton capacity to over 1,200 ton capacity, can have floating pneumatic clamps for the complete range of sheet metal thicknesses and they build presses from manual stroke machines to 300 strokes per minute to machines with over 1,000 strokes per minute.
A punch press can cause a very serious work accident or job injury including finger amputations, hand amputations, forearms amputations, and full arm amputations. We at the Law Offices of DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo have represented injured punch press operators for over thirty years so we have the know-how to help you. We are especially experienced with punch press cases where we use labor code 4558 to get a direct trial against the employer in addition to workers’ compensation. Call us today at (888) 516-8530 to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation. We will go for the maximum possible compensation for your on-the-job injury and you will not have to pay us until and unless we win your case. You deserve to be made whole again after your punch press accident.