student in media lab

Paper Shredder Safety

Paper Shredder

Consumer Product Safety Commission data indicate that over 2,000 people were treated in hospitals for business and office machine injuries during 2007. Lacerations to fingers from paper shredders and other shredder accidents were among these injuries. Most injuries were caused by operator inattention or error.

Before You Start

  • Review the information provided in the paper shredder operator's manual, with particular attention given to descriptions of safety procedures.
  • Before using, always inspect the paper shredder for damage or disrepair. Inspect the electrical cord and plug for defects.
  • If the paper shredder fails the pre-use inspection, notify your supervisor, unplug and remove the shredder from service by attaching a sign that states "UNSAFE - DO NOT USE."

Operating Precautions

  • Locate the paper shredder and power cord outside of foot traffic areas.
  • Paper shredder should be located at least 4 inches from walls or furniture to allow air to freely flow through ventilation slots.
  • Always be alert and focus on the shredding task when using a paper shredder.
  • Keep jewelry, long hair, or loose clothing (i.e., neckties) away from the paper shredder feed opening.
  • Never put fingers or objects other than paper into the shredder feed opening unless the machine was designed for the material (e.g., some can shred diskettes).
  • Feed paper smoothly into the shredder. Never force paper into a shredder.
  • Shred paper in small quantities to avoid jamming the shredder.
  • If the shredder motor overheats, turn the paper shredder off and allow the motor to cool for about 15 minutes before using again.
  • Always turn off before removing and emptying the waste box or cleaning the paper shredder.
  • Always turn off and unplug the power source before cleaning the paper shredder or removing jams.

Paper Disposal

  • Recycle shredded paper with mixed paper.
  • If shredding plastic (e.g., diskettes), empty the waste box before and after to avoid plastic contamination of shredded paper.
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