Business owners often use overhead projectors to present ideas visually during presentations. Overhead projectors display images onto a screen via a bright lamp, a large fresnel lens, a smaller objective lens and a mirror. Although overhead projector designs vary by manufacturer, design elements shared across manufacturers can pose certain dangers to you and your audience.


During a presentation, you might move around a lot or gesticulate with your hands. Unless you’ve clamped or bolted the projector by its housing to the tabletop, you might knock it over. The projector might injure you or someone nearby as it falls. Additionally, if you position the cord over the side of the table or on the floor, you or a member of your audience might trip and fall bodily, pull the projector off the table, or both, resulting in injury.


An overhead projector contains several parts that heat up during use. You might burn yourself on these parts if you don’t wait for the projector to cool completely before performing maintenance or repairs, such as lamp replacement. Certain actions might also cause these and other parts, including the fan or electrical cord, to overheat and burn. For example, you might cause the projector to overheat if you block the cooling air vents, use an extension cord rated for less amperage or run the projector for a long period.


Because an overhead projector is an electrical device, it might experience a short or fire when plugged into an electric socket. For example, you might cause the projector to short if, while drinking a beverage during your presentation, you accidentally spill some of it into the projector's air vents or another opening. Additionally, an electrical short or fire might occur if you use the equipment without getting it checked out after it falls, or neglect to repair it if it has a bad part, such as a frayed cord or damaged plug.


Given that an overhead projector can overheat enough to make parts melt or catch fire, another danger of using this equipment is potential exposure to toxic smoke. When certain parts, such as plastic, metal or fire retardant chemicals heat up or burn in equipment, toxic chemicals and heavy metals enter the air. Even with adequate indoor ventilation, you might experience short-term or long-term health issues including skin or eye irritation, upper respiratory problems, headache, nausea, fatigue or cancer, or exacerbation of pre-existing issues like asthma.


Business owners can reduce these dangers by using overhead projectors per manufacturer safety rules. For example, if you have a child who spends time with you at your business, don’t allow her to play or stand near the projector at any time whether it’s in use or not. Position the projector close to an electrical socket, or use bright yellow or red reflective tape to alert others of the cord’s position. Additionally, move seats away from the projector. If your mouth or throat gets dry when speaking, place a drink several feet from the projector, excuse yourself during the presentation and walk a couple of steps to your drink when you need it.