Paper Cutter Safety – Smartphone meets guillotine blade

Paper Cutter Safety

Smartphone meets guillotine blade

This week an interesting photo popped up in the Commercial Printing subreddit ( In the photo you can clearly see that a smartphone met an unfortunate demise under a guillotine blade. This photo is an interesting case but also serves as a reminder of basic operator safety procedures for paper cutters. It also serves as a testament to the raw power behind a hydraulic guillotine. The poster goes on to explain that the guillotine didn’t miss a beat and the blade was undamaged; not even a nick in the cutting edge.

Back in the early days of printing, it was common for many shops to have a token production worker missing a finger or two. Not by negligence or carelessness, but due to the not-yet-adopted safety standards for equipment. If you spend enough time working with unprotected equipment with exposed mechanisms; it’s only a matter of time before an accident occurs. Mistakes happen and with heavy equipment the stakes are high.

Nowadays, equipment is far safer to operate. Safety organizations and equipment certifications have helped manufacturers to design safety into their machines. Modern paper cutters utilize light beams that will stop the blade if the beam is broken. Cutting yourself is the ultimate nightmare but there are other ways to get hurt. Paper cutters are very safe to operate but I still often see things that make me cringe.

One cardinal rule of paper cutters is to never leave anything on the cutter bed. Traditionally we are talking about rulers, coffee cups and that sort of thing. Any hard object being cut by the blade represents a major safety risk. Objects can snap and fly out from under the blade (even coins can become projectiles), injuring the operator.  This is why all jogging blocks are made of wood or plastic with no metal. Wood grain will give under the blade, being crushed in the process in a rather uneventful way. Plastic jogging blocks will flex and absorb some of the stress before ultimately snapping, causing great risk to the operator. Lately, it’s become very common for people to use their cell phones as calculators while operating the cutter. Most cutters have calculation built into the control panel but some vintages do not. Although understandable, it’s no excuse to neglect safety. Paper cutters are not designed to cut anything but stock and keeping everything off the cutting bed will reduce chances of injury.

Be careful out there, and keep your phone and other miscellaneous items off the bed!

Mid-State Litho, Inc.
5459 Fenton Rd.
Flint, MI 48507