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Manual handlingSupplementary equipmentHazardous substances

Introduction

Copying and printing machines are commonplace in offices. They include photocopiers, facsimile machines and laser printers. Despite their widespread use, these machines pose little risk to employees’ health and safety under normal circumstances provided a few basic principles are followed.

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Manual handling

Commonly, large batches of photocopy paper are purchased at one time and stored in or near the photocopy room and usually on the floor. Lifting and moving even a single ream of paper can cause a muscle strain if not carried out properly, not to mention lifting the large boxes of paper.

Tips

  • Avoid twisting the body when lifting or carry items.
  • Bend at the knees when lifting items.

Potential harm

Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Musculoskeletal disorders

Cause

  • Lifting and moving photocopy paper or boxes/ toner boxes.
  • Muscle strains can occur suddenly, and may result from forceful exertion in a bent or twisted posture. Avoid twisting the body when lifting or carry items.
  • Bend at the knees when picking up items below your knees. Don’t bend from your hips.
  • Don’t lift outside your capacity.
  • Purchase boxes of paper with less reams in them, this reduces the weight and size of each box to be carried.
  • Provide a trolley that adapts to the weight that is as weight is removed the floor of the trolley raises to ensure the user doesn’t have to bend down low to reach items.
  • Purchase smaller quantities more often and store them on shelves at a height between the knees and shoulders.
  • Provide suitable storage areas for paper.

Further information

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Supplementary equipment

Photocopy rooms (or areas) generally have other items of equipment for use in the room. Such as staplers, hole punches, binding machines, laminators and perhaps a guillotine. As many of these items are electrically based, risks are associated with faulty electrical cables.

Tips

  • Use electric devices to minimise repetitive tasks.
  • Provide instruction and/or training on the safe use of equipment.

Potential harm

Electrical shocks
Cuts and abrasion
Musculoskeletal disorders
Identified Hazards and Controls

Electrically powered machines

Cause

  • Frayed or damaged power cords.
  • Visually inspect the power cord of the device you are going to use to check it isn’t frayed or damaged.
  • Visually inspect the device itself to make sure it appears to be in working order.
  • Ensure machines are turned off after use.
  • If unsure how to operate any equipment, ask for instructions.
  • Test and tag electrical items.
  • Remove from service any item that is faulty
  • Provide instruction sheets for the use of the supplementary equipment.

Non powered equipment causing MSD

Cause

  • Repeatedly using an item such as a holepunch or stapler.
  • If you regularly staple or holepunch large volumes you should consider asking for an electronic alternative.
  • Do printing and collating in smaller batches taking rest breaks in between.
  • When removing staples manually be aware of possible cuts and pricks to fingers.
  • Provide an electric stapler or holepunch for thick documents.
  • Contract out large jobs to a professional printing and binding business.

Paper guillotine

Cause

  • Blade of guillotine falls whilst positioning paper and is a cutting hazard.
  • Blunt blade requires excessive force to operate.
  • Guard removed from device.
  • Don’t use the machine if the guard is broken or disabled.
  • Use a slide guillotine in place of the lever guillotine.
  • Guillotines with hand guards and blade locks are a better option than lever guillotines.
  • Have guillotine blades inspected periodically and sharpened to ensure efficient operation.

Workbenches

Cause

  • Bending to sort and organise papers on benches that are low.
  • If you need to collate/ sort large volumes of paperwork try and use an adjustable area (desk) or move your work to a more suitable location.
    workbench
  • Consider the tasks that need to be undertaken by staff and in consultation with those people design an appropriate height, length and depth work area.

Further information

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Hazardous substances

Copying and printing machines are commonplace in offices. They include photocopiers, facsimile machines and laser printers. Properly maintained machines in a well ventilated area are rarely a hazard.

The extremely low levels of impurities in toners are believed not to warrant concern for long-term health effects. Toner dust can enter the atmosphere during toner replacement or disposal of waste if not done correctly; it is generally not emitted from the machine during the printing process. If inhaled, the dust may irritate causing coughing and sneezing. A copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) from the manufacturer of the toner will provide the health and safety information needed to identify and assess the hazards. It will also provide handling and storage information.

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Tips

  • Use sealed toner cartridges.
  • Only trained personnel should replace toner.

Potential harm

Breathing issues
Identified Hazards and Controls

Atmospheric contaminants

Cause

  • Inhalation of toner dust.
  • Excess ozone.
  • Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions if tasked with changing toner cartridge. The cartridge is generally safe unless the contents spill.
  • Persons with underlying respiratory conditions can be more sensitive to airborne contaminants and should refrain from changing the toner.
  • Use the exhaust fan if one is provided.
  • Avoid standing near the printer for long printing jobs. Leave it to print and come back later.
  • If the printer is in a room leave the door open to assist air flow through the room. This is generally enough airflow to dissipate concentrations of ozone.
  • Use sealed toner cartridges.
  • Make safety data sheets (SDS) available for storage and handling of toner.
  • Consider replacing older style printers that use loose toner to a sealed cartridge type.
  • If the printer is located in a small room and used frequently install an extractor fan which vents any fumes / particles outside, or to a more appropriate location. Often photocopiers, fax machines and printers are kept in one room. Adequate ventilation will ensure atmospheric contaminants do not build up to levels that may pose a risk to the health of employees around these machines. Normally, the door should be left open to assist air flow. If noise is a concern or the door is closed for other reasons, the effect on ventilation should be assessed and appropriate modifications made.
  • If the room has a door, instruct workers to leave door open to assist air flow through the room.
  • Regular maintenance of machines to check filters are of the correct type, clean and replaced regularly.

Further information