Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards/Large Copy Machines


CSHO-NEOCON wrote at 2007-01-06 22:01:36
It is important to note that ventilation is an important factor to consider with respect to the use of Large Copy Machines, since it comes first in the heirarchy of controls, and as such, it plays an essential role in controlling the potential safety and health hazards associated with the use of Large Copy Machines. When assessing the hazard(s) of a particular copy machine and/or machines, as rightfully pointed out by Mr. Haywood, it is always prudent to refer to the information provided by the manufacturer, and to follow their recommendations. However, as we all know, the hazard assessment does not stop there. I would like to submit that during the selection of a copier that safety and health concerns be addressed, and that a copiers be selected that are compatible with the workload requirements, as well as the environment where the copying will be performed. That being said, the following list of factors are related to the initial question posted about the requirement for ventilation. This list is not exhaustive, but addresses the some of the salient issues related to safety and health in work environments where large copiers are used.

1) Does the copier involve a wet or dry process. The import of this is that diffent processes generate different types and levels of contaminants.

2) Does the MSDS for the Toner indicate that hazardous materials such as Selenium, Cadmium, Carbon Black, etc., which could out-gas into the environment.  

3) Are Ultrafine particles generated by the particular process. This is important, since they are respirable particles, and they remain suspended in the air for considerable periods of time. Additionally, traditional air sampling techniques may not permit monitoring due to the size of the particles.     

4) Since copiers produce OZONE, is there an activated charcoal filter installed to capture the O3. (Please note: the activated charcoal filters may not by effective in filtering out Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are also generated) It should be pointed out, that even if the VOC levels do not obtain the OSHA PELs, this does not mean that a health hazard does not exist. Further, there are individual differences in response to exposures to hazardous materials.  The OSHA PEL for OZONE (O3) is 0.1 ppm -- the olfactory threshold where O3 can be detected by smell is about 0.01 ppm.  The target organs for OZONE are the skin and the lungs. Chronic exposure to OZONE has been associated with irritation of the eyes, skin, mucus cell membranes, bronchial system, as well as the development of Asthma. The concentation of the O3 in a facilty where copiers are used is also contingent upon a variety of factors such as:

a. the other O3 producing  devices being used,

b. the concentration of O3 in make up air,

c. the air exchanges for the room,

d. as mentioned previously, whether or not the the copier is equipped with an activated charcoal filter

e. Maintenance and Service of the copier       

4) Location of the copier and volume of use; is the copier located in a small room where the air contaminants can build up when there is a heavy work load. It is important to note that if copiers are located in small rooms without a local exhaust system, then high concentrations of O3 and other contanminants can be obtained depending on the volume of use.

5) Since VOCs can be released to the ambient environment, and some studies have indicated that the filters on copy machines may not be effective in markedly reducing their airborne contaminant levels, then dilution via ventilation does become important, especially since some copiers out-gas Benzene, which is addressed by OSHA in an "Expanded Health Standard, since it is luekemogenic. Once again, the airborne level may not approach a level that exceeds the OSHA PEL, but in combination with other contaminants that may be present it is always prudent to reduce levels in accordance with the principle of As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) -- a concept barrowed from the world of Radiation Safety. I believe the concern expressed by Mr. Haywood with respect to children being potentially exposed to hazardous materials like VOCs and OZONE is well founded.  In addition, his concern about letting children around machinery is also well taken, since their are electrical hazards, as well as burn hazards present should the copiers be opened and tampered with.  Thanks for allowing me to express my views in this venue.



MRE wrote at 2010-03-25 15:38:09
I have suffered a devastating respiratory condition due to the irritant vapours released by a smelly photocopier and a laser printer used intensively in a small unventilated corner near me. It has been diagnosed as non-specific bronchial hyperreactivity and multiple chemical sensitivity. There are more persons made ill by photocopiers and laser printers. Anyone who has heard of cases of persons being ill because of these machines please leave message for further comments and possibly follow up. At present such cases are not being duly recognized and the medical and social outcomes are very poor. Thanks

Mrs Debi Mace-Nelmes wrote at 2012-11-15 00:21:32
I work in an office with 2 photocopiers. Both of my colleagues

Share this office and are seated very close

To the machines. When doing high volumes of

copying we experience symptoms including

eye irritation, sore throats, blocked nose and more

Seriously the development of astha, although we cannot

wholely blame this on environment as a history of

is condition is in family. We are currently

in the process of getting our concerns looked

Into by our management. But I do believe that working closely

to these machines is very detrimental to ones health.  

Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards

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Bryan Haywood


I can answer safety and health questions in the field of Chemical Safety, Process Safety Management (OSHA`s psm and EPA`s risk management plan), Emergency Response (Hazardous Materials, Confined Space Rescue, Firefighting and First Aid), Industrial Hygiene, Performance Measurements and Behavior Based Safety.


Safety and Health in the chemical industry and emergency response field for the past 16 years.

American Society of Safety Engineers

Bachelors and Masters in Safety Engineering

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