Paper fasteners banned due to injuries

The UK's Manchester National Health Service Trust has reportedly banned metal paperclips paper fasteners due to staff injuries. If this policy spreads, it may be time for Henry Petroski to write a new afterword to his classic book "The Evolution of Useful Things" that includes the fascinating history of the paper clip. From Metro:

In a memo to staff, it was warned that the use of metal fasteners was 'prohibited' and the offending clips must be 'carefully disposed of immediately'.

'Due to recent incidents, NHS Manchester has decided to immediately withdraw the use of metal paper fasteners,' explained the memo featuring an accompanying picture of a paper clip - just to avoid any confusion. 'Please ensure any that remain in use be replaced by similar plastic fasteners.

'The use of metal fasteners is prohibited and must be carefully disposed of immediately. Thank you for your co-operation.'

"NHS health and safety chiefs ban 'dangerous' metal paper clips"

UPDATE: According to the Manchester Evening News, it is metal paper fasteners, not typical paper clips, that have been banned.


    1. Have you seen my stapler? They switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler, and they’ve moved my desk four times now.

      1. It’s the higher capacity sort of cupholder they installed when new super-size drinks hit the market. I’ve heard tell that you can also get a ‘BD-ROM’ flavor that will support even the double big gulp…

    1. Most of these stories tend to be either complete bullshit, genuinely never happened, propoganda by right wing press who seem to oppose basic safety measures in work that are incredibly hard to dispell. 

      Or people deciding to do something that has absolutely nothing to do with health and safety but calling it health and safety so people dont call them out for being pricks.

      The Health and Saefty Executive repeatedly have things online, on press statements etc saying, this is not a health and safety issue, we do not approve of this, do not blame us for this prick’s pettiness or their paranoia. They make the papers far less. 

  1. %90 sure this is one of those half made up, knee jerk “health and safety gone mad” stories, like the one about conkers being banned.

    it probably wasn’t that kind of paperclip, it probably wasn’t actually banned, or if it was it was probably for some other reason. the metro is the absolute worst for reporting this kind of thing, all it does is undermine people who try to bring up legitimate safety concerns.

    1. Agreed, almost certainly utter rubbish or someone using a bogus health and safety claim to do something they want and not get the flak for it.

      The mail and sun are probably worse for it than the mirror though.

      I don’t get why right-wing Tabloids have a problem with basic health and safety measures. They’ve drastically reduced the number of workplace accidents and deaths and are basically not much work apart from in industrial/construction etc where yes they are a bit more work but they stop people getting badly injured and having to claim benefits. 

  2. If you read the comment thread on the original article, someone has pointed out that is not the kind of paperclip you think it is:

    “It wasn’t that type of paper clip. The least you could do was get the image right. It was one of the two-part clips designed to hold hole-punched papers together, two long metal pars one of which has folding wings that poke through the holes in the paper and the other side of the clip and fold over.”

      1. My mom used to have those things around her office, I used to bend them and put the tines between my fingers and wave my fists around pretending I was Wolverine. Never managed to actually hurt anyone with them.

        1.  Wouldn’t that be “a” science fiction writer? Elsewise, Mr. Dalmas would be waaaay too busy to chime in here.

          1.  Ah, I see what you did there :-)

            I am a great fan of the John Dalmas who writes science fiction.

    1. What’s the betting (and I still question if it is true as most of these turn out to be utter horseshit) that someone stabbed herself under a nail or something with them.

      An accident report got filed, someone looked at it and went why do we use these paperclips? let’s just buy a different type.

      Or someone who orders the stationary going we’ll just buy different types from now on that are better. Then it gets blown out of hand and had nothing to do with health and safety.

      1.  Exactly, I’d ban these because they’re a freaking pain in the arse and other things are easier and simpler to use.

  3. I won’t spoil the punchline, but this puts me in mind of the reason for all the paper clip audits in Charles Stross’s The Jennifer Morgue.

    Are we sure this is really about injuries?

    1. Depends if you live in the real world – never. Or in tabloid fantasy land where ‘elf and safety has gone crazy – it’s happening now near enough.

      Most of these stories end up getting debunked and those just never get published in the papers. The Health and Safety Executive often say, no that was a myth or no that was nothing to do with a legitimate health and safety concern just them overreacting etc.

  4. I worked at a company where Post-It notes were banned on pain of disciplinary action.  People had a habit of sticking them to important documents and filing them.  The note would fall off and critical info would be lost.  Staples, people.

    1. Working in the hospital, you tend to get memos like Please don’t leave specimens in the employee lunch fridge and Please make sure to label your chemo syringes properly.

  5. This report is garbage.

    The source is The Metro — a UK free newspaper published by the Daily Mail group.

    The Daily Mail has a political agenda and a half, and has been running an anti-health-and-safety campaign for years. This is just typical of the crap they spew. I would give it no credence whatsoever unless it can be substantiated by a primary source.

    Sorry you got suckered by the newspaper-owning trolls …

    1. It’s not all garbage, some of it is funny as hell. Just read all newspapers as satire, real life will distinguish itself and you get laughs galore along the way.

      Funny quote from the article:

      ‘We should just be lucky the safety memo didn’t run to two pages, that might have proved a bit tricky.’

    2.  Agreed!  The original order is probably much more specific, like banning metal paper-clips on paperwork that might end up in an MRI lab.  Yes, a little paper-clip can become dangerous with that level of magnetism present.

    3. Funny, that.  When I read the headline, my first thought was “this has got to be from the Daily Fail.”  The only thing they don’t fail at is predictability.

      1. I love the Mail! They’ll put an article about an actress getting fat right next to an article asking if she has anorexia. I’m pretty sure that the articles are computer generated based on trends in reader comments.

    1. It’s true. They’re responsible for more than double the cause of death and dismemberment than samurai swords.

  6. Just wait until someone notices how deadly paper cuts can be… Paperless office, here we come!!!

    (Oh, wait… But then computers could fall from the desks and get your foot pinkie all ouchy…)

  7. Right after the NHS gets saluted in the Olympic opening ceremony, they show themselves to be a bunch of blithering idiots who can’t even keep from injuring themselves if exposed to paper clips.

    1. It’s bullshit, unless they link directly to a primary source you have to assume these things never happen cause 99% of the time they are tabloid rubbish coked up out of thin air. 

  8. It isn’t that kind of paper clip. Here is the story being reported elsewhere, with a correct picture:—for-being-a-safety-risk

    Apparently, this came about because a staff member cut themselves and is suing the hospital, which is already starving for cash.

    1. The headline would read more correctly:

      “Paper clips banned due to potential costly future litigation”

      Not really much more sensible, but more likely then a severe injury due to a paper fastener.

  9. John Slade: Sam, hold it man, you told me you served in Nam!

    One Eyed Sam: I did, Saigon.

    Jack Spade: Well, how’d you lose your eye?

    One Eyed Sam: Fu**in’ ’round the office. We were shooting paper clips at each other, and one of the damn fools hit me in the eye!

  10. POI: there are about eight separate NHS trusts in Manchester.   “The UK’s Manchester NHS trust” is meaningless.

    (An NHS trust, as I understand it, is closer to a non-profit company than a government body.)

  11. I love that they want you to dispose of them “carefully.” Imagine the carnage if they hadn’t said that!

  12. Sorry to spoil the story, but I use those metal fasteners (they are nothing like paper clips but a cheap substitute for ring binders) myself (I have a whole box of them to use up). They are crudely stamped out of thin steel and each blade has a knife-like edges a couple of inches long. It is very easy to cut yourself on them (done it myself a number of times). Hardly a huge health risk but I should imagine it doesn’t look good if your hospital documents are stained with dried blood.

  13. I sliced my finger open to the bone on one of those metal archive clips a few months ago. It was a pretty serious cut, so we banned them at our workplace. 

  14. I worked for a place that actually rationed paper clips. The territorial skirmishes that would arise over unauthorized paper clip raiding parties were far more dangerous than anything described here.

  15. Dude, you have no idea.  The following are required where I work to mop a floor: rubber traction overshoes, safety glasses, gloves, wet floor signs, full lighting, all chemicals in original fully labeled containers, etc.  And this isn’t because they’re concerned for your safety.  It’s because silly minor accidents cost a small fortune annually.

  16. It’s the NHS which probably means the grievously injured staff member has now gone off sick for 6 months on full pay, possibly 2 years, and can’t return to work until the nasty metal paper fasteners are removed and their work environment made safe.

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