Is Your Office Printer Safe?

How long has it been since your office printer had a safety check? The office printer is often a mainstay in many workplaces, humming away in a corner spitting out paper and beeping. As an appliance that probably gets used frequently, it’s important to ensure that it doesn’t present a danger to your workplace.

We’ve all experienced printer meltdowns when there’s a paper jam, a toner spill, the ink runs out or the printer just won’t print for no apparent reason. And invariably, these disasters happen when the printing job is urgent.

Most offices (often even those that consider themselves to be paperless) have a printer or a copier. It’s the type of office equipment most people don’t pay any attention to — until there’s a problem.

Most of the time, the problems with a printer are merely those of frustration at a job that’s not being done properly, but your printer or copier can pose a safety hazard if it’s not maintained and looked after properly.

Don’t let the printer get to you

When your printer is having a meltdown, try to keep a cool head. It’s not easy, but it’s important because it’s often when people get frustrated and angry that accidents happen – and dealing with printers is no exception.

A finger jammed in the printer while trying to unblock a paper jam, a person inhaling toner or receiving a chemical burn because they were trying to change the toner in a hurry – these are the types of small accidents that can be avoided by keeping your cool. Don’t let frustration get the better of you!

Basic safety procedures should always be observed even when dealing with a relatively innocuous piece of equipment such as a printer. Never put your hand inside a printer to remove a paper jam. Don’t change the toner or clean your printer with a solvent unless you’re wearing disposable gloves and if required, a face mask. Always turn the printer off at the wall and pull the plug out if you are trying to investigate any issue.

Printers need to be ergonomic

We think about how ergonomic our desks and workstations are – but you should also consider how ergonomic your office printer is. Your printer should be at a height that is comfortable for the majority of people using it, to minimise the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort and strain.

Printers need air

In large offices where a lot of printing and copying is done on a regular basis, consideration should be given to placing the printer or copier out of the main area of the office to reduce noise and disruption. But in doing so, be careful to ensure that there is adequate ventilation around the printer or copier. Copiers in particular use a lot of chemicals which can emit potentially dangerous fumes.

Practice electrical safety

Your printer should be tested regularly to ensure that it’s safe to use from an electrical perspective. Printers are like any other piece of equipment. They develop faults, they can become unsafe, and it is only through regularly testing the equipment that you can be sure it is completely safe to use.

Don’t use your printer if it has a frayed cord or any kind of visible damage. And don’t use your printer if it isn’t tagged with a current tag that indicates that it has been tested recently.

How often should my printer be tested?

How often your printer needs to be tested and tagged is dependent on the type of work environment you have in your business. If your workplace is an environment where the cord is subject to flexing in normal use or it’s a hostile operating environment (where the printer could be easily damaged) then it should be checked every 12 months.

Is my printer classified as fixed or stationary equipment?

Generally, not. Fixed or stationary equipment only needs to be tested every five years but that really refers to equipment like large computer servers stored in locked cupboards that no-one goes near in the normal course of business. It doesn’t apply to most office printers where the printer is in a busy part of the office, and the cord is regularly flexed as people pull it in and out of the power socket, move the printer around or unplug it.

As a rule of thumb, 12 months is a good gauge for regularly testing your printer, but you should always consult with an expert who can give you advice specific to your situation. Jim’s Test & Tag have technicians who have been trained in testing and tagging equipment. They can easily advise you when they visit your site, how often the appliances in your business need to be tested.

Does my new printer need to be tested?

No. Your new printer doesn’t need to be tested immediately. The onus for electrical safety rests with the manufacturer of the equipment when you purchase a new product. It isn’t the same with second-hand equipment. If you buy a second-hand printer, you should have it tested and tagged before it is used in your office for the first time.

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