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Office equipment

Storage and photocopy rooms, and office areas generally, have office equipment such as staplers, hole punchers, scissors, binding machines, laminators and perhaps a guillotine. As many of these items are electrical, risks are associated with faulty electrical cables.


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

Potential harm

  • Electrical shocks
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Identified hazards and controls

Electrically powered machines


  • Frayed or damaged power cords.

What workers can do

  • 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.

What employers can do

  • Test and tag electrical items.
  • Remove from service any item that is faulty.
  • Provide instruction sheets for the use of supplementary equipment.

Non-powered equipment causing musculoskeletal disorders


  • Repeatedly using an item such as a hole puncher or stapler.

What workers can do

  • If you regularly staple or hole punch 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.

What employers can do

  • Provide an electric stapler or hole puncher for thick documents.
  • Contract out large jobs to a professional printing and binding business.

Paper guillotine


  • Blade of guillotine falls while positioning the paper and is a cutting hazard.
  • Blunt blade requires excessive force to operate.
  • Guard removed from the guillotine.

What workers can do

  • Don’t use the machine if the guard is misplaced, broken, or disabled.
  • Use a slide guillotine in place of the lever guillotine.

What employers can do

  • Use guillotines with hand guards and blade locks, as these are a better option than lever guillotines.
  • Have guillotine blades inspected periodically and sharpened to ensure that they operate efficiently.



  • Bending to sort and organise papers on benches that are low.

What workers can do

  • If you need to collate or sort large volumes of paperwork, try to use an adjustable desk or move your work to a more suitable location.

What employers can do

  • Consider the tasks that need to be undertaken by workers and, in consultation with those people, design an appropriate height, length and depth work area.

More information


  • See Ergonomic hazards for more information on physical factors in the environment that may cause musculoskeletal injuries and how to eliminate these hazards.



Page last reviewed: 04 May 2021

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 |

Date printed 21 Apr 2024