Home Paper Shredders Pose Risk for Injuries

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that home paper shredders, an increasingly more common tool in home offices and work areas, may pose a significant risk of injury. The U.S. CPSC recently reviewed and investigated 50 home paper shredder injuries that occurred between January 2000 and September 2005. The findings of this review were presented in the February, 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics along with a case report of a two year-old girl who sustained severe injury to two fingers as the result of an accident involving a home paper shredder.

Of the reported paper shredder injuries,

  • 71% of the injuries involved children under 12, with over half of these involving children under three, and
  • The majority of injuries that resulted in amputations of a digit occurred in children under six years of age

The CPSC also carried out ergonomic studies of various paper shredder models. All the paper shredder models examined by the CPSC had the potential to allow a child's fingers to reach the cutting blades, and many models didn't have on/off switches. None of the paper shredders tested had a release mechanism to allow separation of the blades from one another, making it very difficult for emergency personnel to remove a finger that may be trapped in the blades.

The researchers conclude that manufacturers should redesign the shredders to make them safer and to display clear warnings directly on the machines. Parents are cautioned to keep paper shredders out of reach of children, and keep them unplugged when not in use. It's also not recommended to allow children to use the machines even under adult supervision, as shredders may pull children's fingers into the blades.

For additional information, please read the Paper Shredder Safety article.

References: Warren RC, Foltin GL. Toddlers at risk for paper shredder injury in the home: easy access and severe injury. Pediatrics. 2006 Feb;117(2):535-8. CPSC paper shredder alert: http://www.cpsc.gov

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