A recent Safety Flash by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) focuses on an incident in which, there was a small explosion in an office paper shredder.
t happened after the blades were lubricated to ensure that the paper shredder cutting blades ran smoothly and to prevent paper jams after a period of intensive use. The method adopted, was to spray WD-40 silicone lubricant onto a sheet of paper, switch on the machine and immediately feed the lubricated sheet through shredder blades. The heat generated during the shredding process or a spark from the internal motor ignited the WD-40 vapours, which had accumulated inside the shredder collection bin. This resulted in a small explosion. No-one was harmed; the paper shredder’s plastic bin was destroyed.
Lessons learned and actions taken
- WD-40 silicone spray is classified as a flammable product.
- The office staff did not appreciate the risks associated with using a flammable product;
- The WD-40 silicone lubricant safety data sheet had not been adequately reviewed;
- The use of WD40 silicone lubricant use of the product had not been properly risk assessed.
- The paper shredder operating instructions do state that “proprietary lubrication sheets” should be used to lubricate the shredder blades – appropriate paper shredder lubrication sheets were purchased;
- IMCA’s member reviewed:
- how hazardous substances are selected, used and managed on site;
- manufacturer’s instructions and maintenance requirements for these products, with appropriate safe systems and precautions implemented.
- Read, understand and follow manufacturers’ instructions!
- Be aware of the risks of flammable products.