Computer Safety Procedures | CompTIA A+ 220-1002 | 4.4

In this video you will learn about computer safety procedures such as: equipment grounding, proper component handling & storage, toxic waste handling, personal safety, & compliance with government regulations.

Equipment Grounding

Grounding an electrical system simply means making a direct connection from the building’s electrical service to the earth so that dangerous voltage from line surges and lightning strikes will find its way into the earth instead of injuring people, damaging equipment, or causing a fire.  Every three-pronged grounded outlet in a building has a direct connection to a metal grounding electrode that goes several feet into the earth.  The use of properly grounded outlets provide an element of safety for the user and the computer.

Grounded Wall Outlet

Proper Component Handling & Storage

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects caused by contact with an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown. A buildup of static electricity can be caused by tribocharging or by electrostatic induction. The ESD occurs when differently charged objects are brought close together or when the dielectric between them breaks down, often creating a visible spark. Without ESD protection, static electricity will seek to discharge to anything else that has a different electrical potential — especially metallic items like circuit boards. Four key areas for protection against ESD are:

  • Antistatic bags
  • ESD straps
  • ESD mats
  • Self-grounding

Antistatic Bags

An antistatic bag is a bag used for storing electronic components, which are prone to damage caused by electrostatic discharge. When removing a component from a computer, immediately place it in an antistatic bag and then place it inside of a protective box to avoid physical impact damage to the component.

Antistatic Bag

ESD Straps

An antistatic wrist strap is an antistatic device used to safely ground a person working on very sensitive electronic equipment, to prevent the buildup of static electricity on their body, which can result in ESD. It consists of an elastic band of fabric with fine conductive fiber woven into it, attacked to a wire with a clip on the end to connect it to a ground conductor.

ESD Wrist Strap

ESD Mats

An antistatic mat is one of a number of antistatic devices designed to help eliminate static electricity. An ESD mat can be connected to a device being repaired using one of the following methods:

  • A cable with an alligator clip.
  • A cable with a loop designed to be held in place by a case screw but with the cable snapped to the mat rather than to your wrist.
ESD Mat

Self-Grounding

If you don’t have access to an antistatic ESD wrist strap or mat, a last resort option to prevent the build up of static electricity in your body from damaging computer components is to simply self-ground yourself by touching a nearby metal component before touching the device you plan to work on (such as touching the metal portion of a chair). You can self-ground by touching an unpainted portion of the case with both hands before installing or uninstalling a component.  Do this every time before touching a component.

NOTE: Prior to working on electronic equipment, always remove any jewelry from your body. Do not touch the chips, contacts, or other circuitry while handling the components, hold them by the edges or bracket. Also if possible, work perform this work in non-carpeted areas to prevent the build up of static electricity. Also avoid using AC-powered tools near the computer.

Toxic Waste Handling

Five types of computer-related toxic waste, as far as this exam is concerned are:

  • Batteries
  • Toner
  • CRT displays
  • Cell phones
  • Tablets

Batteries

Do not throw cell phone, computer, UPS or any other electronic batteries in the trash. Recycle them in order to prevent them from being toxic waste.

Ways to recycle electronic batteries are as follows:

  • Use a recycling drop-off station (such as a drop-off station at an electronics retailer).
  • Returned batteries directly to the manufacturer for recycling.
  • During storage and transport, make sure battery contacts are prevented from touching each other. 

Toner

Toner bottles and cartridges for laser printers and copiers should be recycled instead of discarded.  Unlike with batteries, users can actually earn money or credits toward additional purchases by recycling toner bottles and cartridges products at local office supply stores or toner recycling shops.

CRT Displays

CRT displays contain heavy metals, including lead solder on older models, and a CRT can retain potentially dangerous electric charges long after it has been shut down.  To avoid these hazards, use an approved electronics recycler for CRT displays.

Cell Phones & Tablets

As mentioned previously, batteries for cell phones and tablets should be recycled.  But before disposing of these devices, be sure any personal and company data is safely deleted and the SIM card is removed.

Personal Safety

  • Disconnect Power First: Before working on any type of electronic equipment, always disconnect it from its power source first to avoid potential electrical hazards.
  • Remove Jewelry: Remove all kinds of jewelry and do not allow jewelry to come into contact with any components.
  • Lifting Techniques: When lifting a large or heavy item, stand close to the item, squat down to the item by bending the knees, grapes the item firmly, keep the back straight, and slowly lift with the legs, not the back.  Be sure not to twist the body and keep the item close to the body to help prevent back injuries.
  • Weight Limitations: Know your weight limitations to avoid injury.  As a general rule, if an item is heavier than one-quarter of your body weight, you should ask someone else to help.  
  • Electrical Fire Safety: Buildings should be outfitted with smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  The proper type of fire extinguisher for an electrical fire is a Class C extinguisher. If the fire is too big for you to handle, dial 9-11 & then evacuate the building. If the fire involves a live electrical wire, it should be shut off at the source.  Do not attempt this with bare hands and make sure that your feet are dry and that you are not standing in any water.  Use a wooden stick, board, or rope.
  • Cable Management: Routing power cables and data cables inside a PC is important for providing good airflow for cooling.  Properly manage external cables to prevent trip hazards.
  • Safety Goggles: Wear safety goggles when performing computer repairs, cleaning, or upgrades to avoid eye injuries from dust, dirt, flyaway screws or bolts, solder, or other activities.
  • Air Filter Mask: If a job being performed requires metal machining, buffing, sanding, soldering, waste processing, recycling, or painting as part or all of your technology-related work, an air filter mask might be required for safety.

Compliance with Local Government Regulations

Compliance with local government regulations is a necessary part of legal and safe electronics and technology work.  Check with your local municipality for recommended electronics recyclers. Also, follow regulations for ventilation and other workplace issues as well.