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Health and Safety Risks From a Paper Shredder

A paper shredder, also frequently known as a document shredder, is a piece of equipment which will be found in most offices throughout the world. Whilst it does not have a reputation as being the most dangerous piece of equipment known to man, it can still cause a nasty injury to a person if certain care and precautions are not taken.


A paper shredder works by drawing paper through rotating cutters, with many models activating automatically when the paper is inserted into the opening. This means that loose clothing or long hair can get caught and drawn into the shredder, particularly if it is already in use and shredding paper. Precautions such as containing long hair in a hair net, tucking in loose clothing, or removing items such as ties and jewellery should always be taken.


The cutters will obviously be sharp in order to efficiently and effectively cut the paper numerous sheets at a time. Many shredders will also be capable of shredding a plastic credit card and that will require extremely sharp blades. This means that the risk of cuts and lacerations is extremely high when a person has their hand close to the cutters even when they are stationary, which will be when they remove the cover to empty the shredded paper or try and perform maintenance on the machine such as removing clogged paper which is jamming the mechanism. It is imperative that the machine is disconnected from the mains electricity supply before this is done to ensure that the sharp cutters do not start up whilst the person's hand is inside the shredder otherwise there is a risk of serious injury.


Whilst there are manual paper shredders which are powered by winding a handle, the majority run on electricity. This means that they share the same risks as other items of electrical equipment in the form of electric shocks and the potential to start fires.


The shredding of paper will also create dust/tiny fibres in the receptacle. When this is emptied the dust can be thrown into the air and breathed in by the person doing the emptying. Although unlikely to do much harm in a small dose on its own, like other COSHH dust risks over time the cumulative effects may cause harm to their health.


The NEBOSH General Certificate course will deal with general risks from various pieces of work equipment and how they can pose a threat to a person's health and safety in a place of work. For more information on this course, please click the logo on the right.

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Along with designing bespoke health and safety training programmes, we also run the accredited NEBOSH, IOSH and ConstructionSkills (CSkills) health and safety courses as open courses at selected venues across the UK, as well as in-house for those companies who have a number of employees requiring the training, as it will be much more cost effective than sending them all onto a scheduled open course.


For more information please call 0115 984 9940 to discuss the options or send us an online contact form. Alternatively, use the "Courses" menu at the top of the page to view the courses and qualifications for the various awarding bodies.