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?
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