Prepare and load sheet-fed substrates

Business Sectors (Suites): Machine Printing
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 29 Feb 2020


This standard is for people who prepare and handle substrates in sheet form in a printing environment.

The preparation and handling of substrates in sheets in a printing environment is an essential skill that makes a huge difference to the productivity of production machines. A well-stacked printing machine using material that has been properly conditioned makes all the difference when it comes to high-speed non-stop printing.

This standard requires you to understand the way in which materials, particularly paper and board, should be looked after and prepared before and after printing and to stack substrates so that it feeds well prior to printing and is maintained in good condition after printing.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Maintain the condition of substrates in sheet form for printing

  1. check substrates are protected from physical damage and deterioration at all times.
  2. store substrates for print in a suitable environment with adequate protection from the effects of changes to humidity and temperature
  3. confirm paper and board has time to adjust to the printing environment before use
  4. check materials are identified in respect of their type and their intended use
  5. use pallet moving equipment without damage to the pallet or the materials stored on it following standard operating procedures**

Stack and destack sheet substrates

6. check substrates have been identified for the job and you have authority to proceed
7. unwrap substrate following standard operating procedures
8. aerate substrates following standard operating procedures
9. stack substrate into machine feeders following standard operating procedures
10. report to your manager if there is insufficient material or if the material is damaged or has faults in it
11. de-stack printed sheets for further processing, packing or transport
12. confirm printed sheets are dry enough to handle without marking before handling
13. protect printed stacks from damage or deterioration

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

Health and Safety

  1. your duties and responsibilities for health and safety as defined by any specific legislation covering your job role
  2. regulations on the safe handling of equipment and materials.
  3. manufacturer's health and safety requirements relevant to your job
  4. what personal protective equipment should be used in your job
  5. how to stop a machine in the event of an emergency

6. how to communicate with colleagues

Workplace policy and practice

7. workplace objectives, priorities, standards and procedures
8. the working practices existing in the workplace

Time and Resources

9. how to maximise productivity

The operation of equipment

10. the risks associated with materials handling and how to avoid them

The causes and treatment of common faults

11. processing faults
12. machine faults

Administrative procedures

13. recording and reporting


14. any specific environmental legislation that covers processes in your company

Quality assurance and control

15. techniques for controlling quality


16. the types and characteristics of paper, board and other commonly used substrates
17. how to maintain the quality of materials during storage and handling


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

28 Feb 2025





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



machines; printing; lithographic; equipment; flexographic; operate; maintain; inks; coatings;