Shredders are useful tools for destroying your confidential papers and preventing identity theft. However, these machines must always be used with safety in mind. Here are a few quick tips for the safe use of your shredder.
Before Using Your Shredder:
The first thing you will want to do when you get a new shredder is to take some time, sit down with the user's manual and read it from cover to cover. If you work in an office, every person that is going to be using the shredder needs to do the same. In just about every shredder's manual, there should be a section that is solely focused on safety. Consider printing this page (or thee pages) up (you can usually find a PDF version at the manufacturer's website), laminating it, and placing it near the machine where everyone who uses the shredder can see them.
Make a thorough inspection of the shredder as soon as you take it out of the box to make sure that there are no obvious defects such as a damaged electrical cord. If for some reason the shredder fails this inspection, call customer service and return the shredder to the store where it was purchased or to the manufacturer. Either put the shredder back into the box, or place a warning sign on the machine that clearly indicates that it is not to be used.
When In Use:
First of all, make sure that the shredder's power chord is located out of normal foot traffic. If you are placing the shredder against a wall, leave some space, perhaps 4-6 inches, to ensure that there is decent airflow.
You should always keep your eyes and ears focused on the task at hand when you are shredding, and be sure to keep your fingers and any other foreign objects (such as neckties, badges on lanyards, necklaces, long hair, etc) well away from the feed opening of the shredder.
Always be aware of what the shredder you are using is capable of handling. Some shredders can accept paper clips and staples, and some can even take CD's and credit cards. Know full well what materials your shredder accepts before you place anything other than sheets of paper into it.
When you feed paper into the slot, let the shredder do the work. Don't push the paper through, and always know how much your shredder can accept per pass before you begin to prevent jams.
If a paper jam does occur, try to clear it by putting the machine in reverse for a short time. If it does not appear that this will work, turn the machine off and call a service technician. Continuing to try to power through the jam can ruin the motor and/or cause electrical circuit malfunction.
Pets And Children:
If the shredder is to be placed in a location that is frequented by children or animals, the machine should be unplugged at all times when not in use. The small fingers of children fit more easily into the feed opening, as to the curious paws of cats. There have even been reports of dogs' ears getting caught in shredders. If you want to be extra safe, place your shredder out of reach of kids and pets as well as keeping it unplugged.