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The Dangers of In House Shredding

What are the potential hazards associated with keeping your own business shredding machines onsite.

All too often when we discuss shredding the focus is on the data protection element. The destruction of confidential waste to prevent crimes such as identity theft is now required by law for all companies. This means the majority of companies employ outsource contractors to handle this requirement.

However, there are still a large number of businesses and sole traders who believe they are saving money and time by handling their shredding onsite themselves. The usual set up is to purchase a shredding machine from an office supply company, then feed in paper documents, credit cards and other waste items as required.

Whilst there are complications to this process – many businesses may simply forget to shred in a timely fashion or will fail to keep confidential waste in a locked and secure container – there are real dangers too. What are the hazards associated with in-house business and office shredding?

In House Shredding – Hazards

Dangerous Mechanics

Shredding is a mechanical operation that presents a real danger to the user if due care and attention is not paid to the process. We have all heard urban myths about directors and businessmen who have managed to get their tie stuck in the shredding machine. Even though this is often recited as a comic tale, there’s a real danger if long hair or fingers get caught in an office shredder. Obviously the larger the shredder, the greater the danger. Without clear training procedures and measures, there are some real hazards to using industrial sized shredding machines.

Dust and Fire

Even small shredders can create a large amount of paper dust. The slightest spark could potentially ignite a cloud of airborne dust inside a confined space such as a shredder, creating a violent and dangerous explosion. Even though this occurrence, which is also known as deflagration, is fairly rare, the shredder is one of the most likely places for it to potentially happen. With large industrial shredders that are used on a session basis, this danger is considerably increased and any associated explosion could cause fatal damage to the business.

Particle Inhalation

Explosions are not the only problems associated with the release of dust from the shredding process. Minute particles can get into the lungs of business workers causing irritation and short term health problems like eye and chest infection, leaving them with no choice but to take time off work. When workers are required to use industrial sized shredders, particularly if this is an assigned, regular role, then the danger is increased. With the long term affects ranging from persistent sore throats through to asthma and chronic bronchitis, an injury lawsuit against a negligent company could prove incredibly costly.

Top Heavy Construction

Next time you see an office shredder take a look at the construction. Most of the weight is usually distributed around the top where the mechanics are situated. The bottom part of the unit is usually a lightweight plastic receptacle. This makes the entire unit quite unstable and liable to topple at any time. As you’d expect, the larger the machine the greater the danger, with injuries to the most prone body parts such as toes and feet likely to occur.

Cross Cutting Shredders

In recent times it has been revealed that strip cut shredders do not offer enough destructive power to effectively handle confidential waste. This means that cross cutting shredders have taken their place in the small office or business. These machines can be extremely dangerous, with around 2000 injuries attributed to the incorrect operation of a cross cutting shredder on an annual basis.

The Alternative

With so many dangers associated with in house shredding, what can often seem like the easy, cost effective option can actually end up costing you more than money. With an outsource shredding company, they’ll take care of the whole process, providing you with secure storage and visiting your site regularly to take care of your confidential materials. There are many different options and one of the real advantages is that you never have to deal with a mechanical breakdown.

All businesses, including those that operate from home, are subject to the same data protection laws. Using an outsource shredding company with the proper accreditation, who will advise on your whole disposal process, is one of the best ways to make sure you’re covered.