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What To Expect When You Hire A Shredding Company To Destroy PHI

Posted on 30 June 2015 by Total Secure Shredding

PHI, or “Protected Health Information”, is the personal health information used to identify an individual. Often, this data is demographic in nature, and reveals facts that relate to the individual’s mental or physical health, as well as their provision of health care, how they pay for that health care, and a variety of general identifiers including the person’s

  • Full name

  • Date of Birth

  • Address of Residence

  • Phone Numbers

  • Social Security Number

As sensitive information, all PHI must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards (HIPAA). According to the HIPAA, all covered entities will be required to dispose of PHI properly and securely, with proper proof of shredding. A reliable method that most organizations use to do this is to hire a shredding company that will destroy all of the PHI off site in a manner consistent with the security and privacy rules and regulations of HIPAA. Following are just some of the things that you should expect when hiring a shredding company to destroy PHI on your behalf.Computer at desk

1. All Sensitive Records Will Be Reliably Destroyed

Hiring a skilled and qualified service to destroy your discarded PHI is a great solution for many companies searching to eliminate a significant portion of substantial risk, while lowering internal costs. It’s no surprise that using a qualified PHI destruction service has become the most popular method of disposing of PHI.

Paying for a qualified service to conduct the destruction on your behalf allows your office to obtain a valid record of compliance, or proof of shredding. Even if you’re sure that your employees always shred every document that they should, it’s important to have proof that this happens regularly. Your chosen company must be capable of destroying the following types of media:

  • Smart Phones, CDs, Thumb Drives

  • Computers – simply pressing delete does not erase data from a computer system

  • Stored records – records that have been electronically converted or exist beyond their retention period

  • Paper Records – any paper documents, messages, notes, memos and forms

2. The Destroyed PHI Will Be Completely Indecipherable

To comply with the rules of HIPAA, all destroyed PHI must be completely indecipherable, or “essentially unreadable”. What’s more, even if the destroyed PHI cannot be reconstituted, this does not mean that it can simply be deposited into any garbage can, recycling bin or dumpster used for general waste that might be accessible to unauthorized persons or the public.

When you hire a company to dispose of your PHI for you, you enter into an agreement or contract that ensures the PHI will be safeguarded carefully throughout the disposal process. This ensures that your PHI will be carefully retrieved, burned, shredded or pulped and removed according to the requirements of the law.

3. You Will Receive A Certificate of Destruction

A proof of shredding receipt gives you and your company the HIPAA compliance documentation essential to the audit trail. Not only will you have a reliable destruction program in place, but you will also have the documentation required to back yourself up – and for a lower cost than would be required to destroy data yourself.

Most businesses today know that HIPAA compliance is crucial, and to demonstrate your compliance, your paper trail must establish the following:

  • You have been destroying sensitive materials with a registered destruction company on a regular basis

  • Proper care was put into choosing your specialist and qualified destruction vendor

  • Your employees have been trained to understand their own destruction responsibilities

Safeguarding Your Company

The privacy rule determined by the HIPAA requires that all covered entities apply the appropriate technical, physical, and administrative safeguards needed to protect PHI in any form. This means that no covered entity may dispose of PHI without due caution and specialist care. Though the security and privacy rules do not require that companies use a specific method of disposal, covered entities must determine steps that are reasonable in safeguarding PHI and implement policies to carry out those steps.

How do you feel about using a professional company to destroy PHI on your behalf? Do you think that accessing specialist shredders may be a safer, cheaper, and all-around more secure option of dealing with sensitive data?

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Final Word on Boxes!

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Total Secure Shredding

Standard Size File Box

What is all this talk about Standard Size File Boxes?

Hey Folks,

The question comes up all the time regarding how do we charge, what exactly is a Standard Size File Box, and what if I don’t have my documents in a Standard Size File Box?

>>Question #1 – How Do We Charge?

This one is easy, we charge by the Standard Size File Box which is basically a unit of volume.

>>Question #2 – What is a Standard Size File Box

Standard Size File Box:  A box typically used for the storage and transport of documents that measures 15″ x 12″ x 10″. If you multiply all those measurement together  you get a total volume of 1,800 cubic inches (in³).

Copy Paper Box: When you go to an office supply store and purchase copy paper, this is the type of box in which the paper comes. In most cases, this box contains 10 reams of copy paper measuring 8 1/2″ x 11″ per sheet. At Total Secure Shredding, we consider this box equivalent to a Standard Size File Box.

So far so good.

The problem is that there are a few different box sizes commonly used to store documents and this creates a little confusion.

Here is a list of some of the more common box sizes and types:


  1. Letter/Legal: 15″ (length) x 12″ (width) x 10″ (height); 1,800 in³
  2. Letter: 24″ (length) x 12″ (width) x 10″ (height); 2,880 in³
  3. Legal: 24″ (length) x 15″ (width) x 10″ (heigth); 3,600 in³
  4. Check: 14 1/4″ (length) x 9″ (width) x 4″ (heigth); 513 in³

#1 is what the Shredding Industry considers the “Standard Size File Box

Box #2 is approximately one and a half times as big as a #1. Let’s check the math -  2,880 divided by 1,800 equals 1.6. So considering these boxes as one and a halfs does make sense.

Now let’s look at box #3. This box has exactly double the volume of box #1. When we do the math and divide 3,600 by 1,800 we get exactly 2. Thus, we consider these boxes to be doubles.

Finally, if we look at box #4, we see that this box has about one third the volume of box #1. The math again shows that if we divide 513 by 1,800 we get 0.285. Not quite 0.333, but close enough that we would consider three box #4 to be equal to one box #1.

If your eyes still haven’t rolled back into your head at this point…

I’ve got a couple more boxes to go!


  1. Letter: 23 ½” (length) x 12 ¼” (width) x 10 ¼” (height); 2,951 in³
  2. Legal: 24 ½” (length) x 15 ¼” (width) x 10 ¼” (heigth); 3,830 in³

Now, since these boxes basically have one box that rides in another, the volume is just a little bit bigger than the STORAGE FILE BOXES. But for shredding purposes, we still consider these two sizes to be  “One And A Halves” and “Doubles.”

Click Here to watch a video I created explaining Standard Size File Boxes and other box sizes.

>>Question #3 - What if I don’t have my documents in a Standard Size File Box?

The point of all this talk about boxes  is that we price our shredding service based on the volume of the container you have your stuff in…

And the Standard Size File Box is the box we base all our prices on.

That being said, we provide a VISUAL ESTIMATE if you don’t have your documents in a Standard Size File box.

This means if you come down to us or we come out to you and you have your stuff in garbage bags, or stacked on the floor, all over the trunk of your car, or in some miscellaneous size box, the best we can do is provide a visual estimate.

The same thing goes for when we come out to you and perform a Purge Shredding.

As a good rule of thumb, if you don’t have your documents in Standard Size File Boxes, 25 to 30 pounds of paper documents is about equivalent. Of course we leave it up to you to maximize the amount of paper you jam into a File Box. Consequently, an “expertly” packed File Box can hold upwards of 50 pounds!

Why don’t we weigh your stuff and charge by the pound?

Because we don’t have scales on the trucks and besides, charging by the pound requires have a certified County of San Diego scale and that is something I will not pursue at this time.

That about sums things up on Standard Size File Boxes. If you happen to have any questions please feel free to share in the comments below… I sure others have the same questions and you’ll be doing them and me a huge favor!

We look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time.

Keep Totally Secure,

Head Shredding Guy

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