Why Being A Printing Press Operator Is A Stressful Job

I would like to rant about a comment made on the most and least stressful jobs.  I always have my eye on jobs out there for pressmen and I came across an interesting link on a popular job site.  It said that the printing industry is "not a particularly stressful working environment."  Who writes this stuff?  It certainly is not as stressful as maybe an air traffic controller, but it certainly has driven me to the point of insanity some days.  Maybe you have something more to add, but here are my reasons as to why this industry is one of the most stressful.

1.  Deadline driven.  Every single job printed has a promised date to the customer.  Often, those selling the work for printing presses do not make allowance for stupid mistakes.  Each job must get out on time.  That is what makes a printer competitive and so that is what a pressman is expected to do - meet deadlines.

2. Dealing with people.  A press crew is not a democracy.  There is one person in charge who calls the shots (at least where I come from).  Not every press operator has the most kindly and patient qualities in such a stressful environment.  Though fear is a great motivator, not everyone finds it easy to deal with a cranky press operator.   

3.  Speed and downtime.  This is a unique industry where the equipment drives the pace of the worker.  As fast and as well as the equipment performs determines how much the pressman must hustle.  Even when the press is experiencing downtime, the stress is always present to get the press running again.  A faster press and a quicker makeready is always the goal.

4.  Troubleshooting.  Printing is problems.  If you are an experienced pressman, you know that chemistry, physics and machinery all play a role in coming together for a good quality product.  There are a multitude of variables that can cause frustration on the part of the pressman and troubleshooting them can be a source of stress and frustration.

5.  Environment.  Presses are loud and can be dangerous.  I've written about some of the lawsuits in the printing industry that illustrate that this industry can be dangerous.  Exposure to chemicals, noise and machinery all pose a risk.  Even though not always conscious of it, pressmen experience stress from this.  Add to this the requirement of standing for long periods of time and  you can  add back problems to the list of hazards.

6.  Performance based.  I've worked on several presses that ran multiple shifts and you cannot avoid it.  There is competition between crews.  If one press operator has an outstanding performance record, there is pressure on the others to perform well.  This is to a certain extent a spirit that motivate press rooms to perform.  However if it is uncontrolled, it is a stress that can have negative consequences.

I do not want to sound like a baby by writing something like this because I think I'm not a lot different than many other pressman.  It's a stressful environment, but it's the money that makes us stay, right?

Related Posts:
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Motivate Your Press Operator With Incentives


  1. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Appreciate your honesty and openess.

  2. Anonymous12:54 AM

    Thank you.You just said what I've been saying for years.

  3. As a former heatset operator I agree the job can be as described above and then some!

  4. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Anything that can make a grown man want to cry is stressful. Sometimes you eat sometimes the dog eats.

  5. I'm a comail operator not a pressman but I can relate to everything listed here. 12 hrs is the maximum time allotted for a makeready on a line with 36 feeders. I usually try to start a makeready while finishing a job just to shave off an hour or two. This would obviously be print blocks,electronic measurement work with offsets, proof file prep, etc. All while trying to run the line with the mechanical failures and communications with co-workers. Forklift drivers are always an issue too from getting loads to the line to getting the line cleared off for a make ready and then getting new product to the line so you can start the mechanical end of MR. Then there is the issue of language barrier and I'm not gonna get started on that. One of the biggest problems is with working on the finishing end, the product is bound and curled on the skids so some books need to be straightened. The titles are all different sizes too so it's a challenge on the gathering section, label head, print head, stacker etc.
    No printing isn't stressful at all lol.