It’s important to consider the appropriate safety precautions when working around technology. In this video, you’ll learn about electrical safety, mobile device disposal, personal safety considerations, and more.
<< Previous Video: Disaster Recovery Next: Managing Electrostatic Discharge >>
Let’s begin our safety conversation with a discussion about power. As an IT professional, every device you work with will be powered, and you need to be very careful about how you work around those different devices. If you’re going to be working on the inside of these devices, then you want to be sure you remove all power before touching anything inside of a computer.
Some of the components in these devices have capacitors that will store power, and by simply touching those capacitors you could still get a shock even though it’s not connected to a power source. You want to be sure that you know exactly what you’re touching when you’re working inside these devices. If you’re replacing a power supply, it’s very common to replace the entire power supply rather than trying to repair individual components on the inside of that power supply. And don’t forget when you’re in a data center there’s generally UPS and very large cooling systems, or even working with laser printers, there’s very high voltage. You want to be very careful when you’re working around these devices and remain safe and away from that high voltage.
The electrical devices we work with have a separate connection in the outlet for an electrical ground. If there’s an electrical short or a surge of voltage, that additional voltage will be sent to the electrical ground rather than being sent into you. If you’re in a data center, you’ll notice the metal equipment racks are also grounded so that if any voltage finds its way onto the rack it will go directly to this electrical ground.
This electrical ground is important for safety, and you want to be sure you don’t ever remove any of these electrical ground connections. You also want to be careful not to connect yourself to this electrical ground. Some people believe that connecting to this electrical ground will somehow help them minimize the amount of electrostatic discharge. This is obviously not the case, and you never want to connect yourself to any source which might have voltage on it.
There will be times in IT where you have to work with toxic waste. The acid inside of the batteries used in the UPS for example, need to be disposed of in the proper way. And usually you’ll have a local hazardous waste facility where you can take all of these components and dispose of them properly. You never want to put one of these batteries out with your normal trash or garbage pickup.
Back in your data center, you may also find that you have some of the old CRTs, or cathode ray tube displays. If you do find one of these CRTs, there is commonly lead that’s in the glass, so make sure you dispose of this as well at your hazardous waste facility. Much more common is the toner and toner cartridges that we use with our laser printers. When you’re replacing a toner cartridge, it’s very common for the manufacturer of that toner to provide a return box for sending back the empty cartridge. And you may want to check with your supplier of toner cartridges, because there may be a discount available if you recycle the cartridges that you’re using.
Another good recycling opportunity comes with the many mobile devices we use. If you are upgrading to a newer model, make sure you delete the data on your old model before sending it in for recycling. It’s very common for the manufacturer of the phone, or the service provider that you’re using for the phone, to have a recycling program that you can send the phone in, and either upgrade or receive a discount on a newer phone. If one of these recycling programs is not available to you, you don’t want to put this phone out in your normal garbage. Make sure you send it to your local hazardous waste facility.
From a personal safety perspective, you may want to check to see what types of things are hanging from your neck. If you’re working inside of a computer or other mechanical devices, you don’t want anything dangling down into those moving components. If you’re wearing jewelry it might be a good idea to remove that, and if you use a lanyard it might be a good idea to remove the lanyard or get one that is breakaway.
These computers and other infrastructure devices can be pretty heavy, so you want to be careful when you’re lifting them or moving them within your organization. One good best practice is to always lift with your legs and not bend your back whenever you’re lifting these heavy devices. You don’t want to carry any overweight devices. And if you work in a data center there may be lifts that allow you to move those devices into the rack.
Even the extinguishers that we use in the case of fire are specific to electronic devices. You don’t want to use any extinguisher they uses water or foam. Instead, you’ll use carbon dioxide, FM-200, or some other dry chemical that can work with those electrical components but still be able to put out any fires. And as a best practice during a fire, you want to be sure that you’re able to disable or remove any power sources.
There is also a lot of cables and wires in a data center, and you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re tripping over any of those. Many of these wires will often go under the floor or overhead, but if there are some wires that are out, you want to use cable ties or Velcro to keep them out of the way. You’ve only got two eyes, so you want to be sure you protect those as well with safety goggles. This is especially useful if you’re working with batteries, because some of that acid could splash out and get into your eyes, or if you’re working with other chemicals, like the ones found in a toner cartridge.
And there may be times when you’re working on a very dusty computer or you’re having to clean up a toner spill. In those cases, you may want to use an air filter mask to make sure that none of those floating particles end up inside of you.
There often local state and federal regulations regarding safety in the workplace. So you want to be sure, depending on your location, that you have all of the proper safety features in place to make sure that you’re compliant. A good example of this are the building codes that are in place. You have to be sure that you’re complying with the building codes associated with fire control, and the ones that are associated with electrical safety. And because we’re dealing with so much hazardous and high tech waste, you want to be sure you’re following all the right rules and regulations to dispose of those safely.