What Safety Features Do Shredders Typically Have?
Wherever powerful motors and fast-rotating sharp cutters go hand in hand, there will always be safety issues to take into consideration. No, we’re not quite talking chainsaws here. But office paper shredders should be treated with due respect. At Leitz, we’ve taken the guess work out of how to use a shredder properly with operation and safety features that actually make for quite a satisfying experience.
Common Paper Shredder Safety Features
So when you are shopping for a new shredder for your home or office, what safety features should you look out for? Here are some of our in-built features that help to keep you safe.
- Autostart: Not to be confused with automatic feed, auto start is primarily a safety feature built into modern manual shredders. The idea is that, instead of the cutters starting to rotate when you press a button, a sensor triggers them into action when sheets are fed into the machine. This means cutters are only in motion when there is material to shred.
- By contrast, automatic feed is a mechanism designed for high volume shredding, when large piles of sheets are placed into the machine. From the perspective that no one has to stand at the machine feeding sheets through, therefore avoiding the risk of fingers, ties, jewellery etc straying into the shredder, this also brings its own safety benefits.
- Auto stop: Auto stop is a multipurpose safety feature that detects when something that shouldn’t be in the shredder enters the cutter mechanism, whether that’s too much paper or the wrong kind of material.
- Anti-jam / auto reverse: Anti-jam is a now popular feature designed to avoid damaging jams by automatically reversing the rotation direction of the cutters the moment the mechanism comes up against unusual resistance. This means that jams are in effect cleared before they become an issue, but it also helps to avoid situations where people are tempted to poke around in the jaws to try to clear a jam - the job is already done for you. Anti-jam is a standard feature on all Leitz IQ Office range manual shredders.
- Bin capacity sensor: If a shredder bin is filled past capacity, paper will start to back up into the jaws, putting the motor under more stress as it tries to grid against material in two directions and causing jams. Bin capacity sensors provide a warning when the bin is close to needing emptying. On Leitz Autofeed models, the bin capacity sensor is triggered when the bin is 80% full. On some models, the capacity sensor will block the shredder working until the bin is emptied.
- Thermal safety lock: Because of the heavy load placed on the motors that drive shredder cutters, most paper shredder models have a specified maximum run time after which they need to be left unused for a period to cool down. Using a paper shredder past its maximum run time runs the risk of overheating. A thermal safety lock shuts down the shredder if the motor starts to get too hot and won’t let it turn on again until it has cooled down to the required level to be operational once again.
Do’s and Don’ts for Using an Office Shredder Safely
- Never reach your hand into the cutter mechanism opening while the machine is switched on. Repairs or unblocking of shredder blades should only be attempted once the machine has been unplugged. Better still, call a qualified service engineer to look at the problem.
- Keep ties, loose clothing and hair well out of the way. As part of health and safety training for using a paper shredder, people should be advised to tuck neck ties into their shirt, roll up loose sleeves, tie back long hair and remove any dangling jewellery that could get caught up in the blades.
- Only insert materials that the shredder is designed to take. Due to differences in motor power and blade strengths, different models of shredder are capable of shredding different materials. Leitz IQ Protect manual shredders, for example, can comfortably handle regular staples and paperclips as well as paper and cards up to 200gsm in weight, but aren’t designed to shred things like credit cards, CDs, laminate sheets and bound documents, including those with heavy-duty staples. Putting these through the machine will risk damage to the cutters and the motor, increasing the risk of misfeeds, jams and even electrical malfunctions.
- Stick to manufacturer’s guidelines on run times and load capacities. As mentioned above, paper shredders have a specified run times to protect the motors from overheating. Running a shredder past these recommended times can risk serious damage. Similarly, overloading a shredder either by trying to force too much paper into the blades mechanism at once or failing to empty the bin when needed risks jams, damaging the blades and gears, and wearing out the motor. A faulty or underperforming shredder is much more likely to malfunction and cause accidents when people try to fix the issues and keep it running themselves.
For an all round productive and safe way to shred multiple documents seriously consider the virtues of Leitz automatic shredders.