CEPS

Canterbury Educational Printing Services

Health and Safety

A number of health and safety issues arise form the use of photocopiers and multi-functional devices (MFDs). CEPS takes every precaution to minimise all risks associated with these devices.

For more information on Health and Safety at the University of Canterbury, see the Health and Safety Intranet site (staff only).

Noise and Heat

Noise and heat production vary considerably according to the manufacturer and model of the photocopier machine.

Copiers with collating abilities can be particularly noisy and high-speed copiers that are heavily used can generate considerable heat. Excessive noise and heat are fatiguing, distracting and stressful to employees. In an office environment, noise levels below 45-50 decibels are preferable. Departments should give careful consideration to the location of photocopiers in relation to employee work areas to prevent unnecessary stress from the heat or noise of the machine. Heat production in the room can be dispersed by good room ventilation and air conditioning.

Recommendations

The responsibility for ensuring that a photocopier does not present a health hazard is shared between the manufacturer, the manager, the installer and the operator. The possible health effects of photocopier use should be kept in mind as they are acquired, installed and used.

Toner Issues

A particular toner may be made up of several different materials, but the two essential components of dry photographic toners are colourants and binder resins.

About 90% of the toner is resin that binds the colourant to the paper or transparency to produce a permanent image. The resin used is a type of polymer that will either melt at an easily obtainable temperature or that can be forced between paper fibers under a fair amount of pressure. Ideal heat fusion resins include polyesters, epoxies, styrene copolymers and co-polycarbonates.

Located within the resins are colourants, the other necessary toner component. Colourants make up around 10% of the toner. In black and white copying, carbon black is the most commonly used colourant. Organic pigments are used as colourants when colour documents are being produced.

Once the toner is attached to the photoreceptor, it is electrostatically transferred to a piece of paper, forming the desired image. The sign and magnitude of the colourant's charge potential depends on the photocopying process of the particular brand and model of photocopying machine that uses the toner.

Ozone Issues

Ozone (O3) is a very reactive gas made of three oxygen atoms. Normal oxygen (O2) consists of two atoms. Ozone is a colourless gas with a pungent odour. It is normally created in the upper atmosphere by the action of sunlight on normal oxygen. Additionally, indoors, electrical charges made by photocopiers, laser printers, can create ozone. Ozone turns back into oxygen on contact with indoor surfaces such as walls or furniture.

So how do photocopiers produce ozone? Ozone is produced because photocopiers use an electrical charge to get the ink onto the paper. To get the necessary charge, a wire with a high voltage is used. The effect of this wire on the air around it is enough to produce ozone; Ozone is formed in photocopiers as a by-product. Ozone may irritate the respiratory or breathing system so can be a problem for people with asthma. Ozone can cause headaches, irritate eyes, nose and throat and nausea. Ozone readily degrades into oxygen.

Photocopiers that produce higher ozone levels should have a fan to better distribute the ozone. It is also advantageous to find other ways to increase air circulation in the area where the photocopier is placed, such as keeping doors open, keeping the photocopier near a vent, or having fans installed.