In an effort to save the cost of buying a shredder or using a shredding service some people will do some strange things. The most common thought that comes to people’s mind is to burn the paper. There a few things to consider. The first is if it is allowed in your area. Most incorporated areas have ordinances against shredding trash. This would apply to burning paper.
But more importantly is to be careful when you are burning anything. A recent example is a woman in Jefferson Township who was burning paper in her basement. The fire got out of control and the fire department had to put out the blaze. She may have saved some money by not having to buy a shredder but now she has an estimated $1,100 in fire damage to repair.
While fire may be a popular option it isn’t the only one I have seen suggested to destroy your personal information and avoid identity theft. The one I can not understand is the idea of filing a garbage can full of water and then throwing in the paper. Sure, it will destroy the information but what a colossal mess. Now you have to deal with what to do with the paper pulp.
If you really want to save money there are some solutions that have zero cost. You can tear up paper or use scissors to destroy the information. The only thing you have to spend is your time. If you value your time then it is time to get a shredder or call up a shredding service. As the service is shredding your documents you can think about the poor fool who is scooping paper glop out of a trash can.
While the most common way to get rid of incriminating letters in a novel is to burn them it has not been very popular for businesses and organizations for many years. There are several reasons why:
- Shredded paper can be recycled.
- Burning paper releases carbons into the atmosphere
- It is dangerous if not done properly.
- It is against the law in most urban areas.
- It is more expensive than just hiring a shredding company.
But the DC Police see it differently. Last month a dumpster was discovered at the police academy with burning police records. After the fire department was called more records were discovered
in a nearby abandoned car.
It all sounds fishy but Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says it is perfectly normal for the department. She said it is an approved method for getting rid of documents. But union Chairman Kristopher Baumann sees it a bit differently. He says, “The idea that in 2012, that we throw personnel records [in the trash] and light them on fire and hope for the best is unacceptable.”
While burning is an effective way to destroy documents it needs to have the same safeguards in place as any destruction program. There should be a written policy for the retention of the various types of documents the business produces. The destruction of the documents should take place on a regular schedule. The destruction should be monitored by manager and then what was destroyed must be documented. It is this organized, planned, and monitored destruction program that prevents organizations from running afoul of record retention laws.
The Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utitca, New York has one of the most expensive shredders available. The problem is that it is not expensive because it is any faster or cuts to smaller pieces than the average office shredder. It is more expensive becuase it will cost thousands in repairs to the building.
The fire department responded to reports of smoke at the office. The sprinkler system was able to extinguish the fire. The cause of the fire was determined to be the offices shredder.
It doesn’t appear the fire caused a lot of damage but the sprinkler system sure will. It is unknown the total damage and the amount of equipment and records destroyed. The office will have to be closed as the damage is repaired.
It is impossible to eliminat the risk of fire with a shredder. The options are to take on the risks in the hands of untrained employees or leave them to experts in operating shredding equipment. A shredding service takes away the risk of fire in the average office. But fire risk is a small reason to outsource behind saving money and increasing security.
When you are tired of shredding backing up give Shred Nations a try. You can be up and running with a custom shredding program in days.
There have been a rash of news reports about shredding trucks and shredding plants having fires. Over the weekend it was a truck at a community shredding event. Today it was at a shredding plant in Lawrenceville. The increased reports may lead you to believe that something is going on.
After 30 years in the shredding business we learned a few things about the risk of fire and shredding. We did have fires in shredding trucks but never at our plant. Unless you are a fireman you don’t want to have enough experience to be a true expert in fires.
The first thing to consider is the equipment itself. Any piece of equipment can overheat. The same threat is true of the shredders they sell at the office supply store. If ran continously for too long they pose a fire risk. Different types of shredders run faster and get hotter. This is a reason that “cross cut” shredders to not scale to industial sizes. More common are “shear shredders” in an industrial setting.
There are still threats that can lead to a fire. The most basic is what is going through the shredder. Large pieces of metal can cause sparks or if large enough jam up the shredder. For industrial equipment that is likely to be metal larger than three ring binders. We have no problem with something as small as paper clips or staples. One time we had significant repair costs from a a stapler, yes, the whole stapler. To this day it doesn’t seem to make sense why someone would put an entire stapler into a shredding bin.
The last risk is from the dust. Shredding paper does produce a lot of dust. If not managed a spark can cause the fire. Most shredding plants use a dust control system to reduce the risk of fire and also make the plant better for people working there.
So in the end there will always be a risk of fire when operating shredding equipment. But a good operator will train employees and set up systems to mitigate the threat. The good news is that in the end the documents were supposed to be destroyed and the fire only finishes off the job.
After a fire in a shredder at Edwards Air Force Base they have issued a warning on how to use a shredder. This is the second fire that made the news this spring. So if you have your employees shred then make sure you review safety precautions with them.
I recently posted about people who want shredding but don’t want to pay for it. One can only assume that some of these people will end up burning the documents. I most cities it is illegal to burn trash but I will leave that to the police to find and prosecute. What I do want to mention is the cost of the job not done well. A Pacific Beach woman tried to burn documents and managed to start a fire in her garage that spread to the car parked outside. The initial estimates are for $80,000 in damages. [report]
This sure makes the cost of a shredding service seem small by comparison.