Computer Safety Procedures – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 5.1

When working on computers, there are a number of important safety considerations to keep in mind. In this video, you’ll learn about the importance of equipment grounds, personal safety techniques, and the integration of government regulations in the workplace.

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When we’re working with our computers and our computing equipment, one of the largest safety concerns we have is working with power. Power obviously can be very dangerous, and we want to be sure, whether we are working on a very small computer or working inside of a data center, that we are always mindful of the electricity.

Therefore, one of the most common best practices is to therefore disconnect any power source before you are directly working on any type of component. It is never a good idea to have that device turned on or even plugged into a power source when you are working inside of it.

Don’t touch anything that’s inside of a computer unless you are absolutely sure that there is no problem with power. It’s very common to have power supplies, especially some of the older power supplies, keep a lot of power in their capacitors. And obviously some of the older CRTs certainly maintain a lot of power inside of their capacitors. So you want to be absolutely sure when you’re working with these components that there’s not ever going to be a risk of any type of shock.

That’s why you’ll often see people replacing entire power supplies inside of a computer rather than trying to repair individual components. It’s usually much less expensive to simply swap out the power supply and save that time. And at the end of the day, it’s probably much safer to keep you away from the components inside of that power supply and simply replace it with something that you know to be working properly.

We always want to be mindful of the power that’s being used by these devices, but there are certain devices that will always be drawing a lot of voltage. You can think of laser printers, for instance, some older CRT displays. You have things like the power supplies inside of the very high-end servers are going to be using a lot of power. So if you’re ever working around those components, be very mindful and make sure you follow all of the proper safety procedures to make sure that you are not going to be shocked as well.

A very common safety practice that we have on all of our modern electrical systems is a path to ground. Somewhere on your building is a ground rod that all of your electrical components will connect to. That way, if there is any type of voltage that goes somewhere it shouldn’t be going, it’s going to go into that ground rod rather than going into you. So obviously, that’s an extremely important thing that we really must have on all of our electrical systems.

This doesn’t just apply, of course, to our computer components that we’re plugging into a power source, but it also applies to entire racks of components. We want to be sure that if we are in a data center, where there are a lot of metal racks, that any type of electricity that might find itself on to the rack also goes into that electrical ground. So if you’re in a data center, you may notice that all of your racks are also grounded. If you look closely you may find a big copper wire or a copper braid that is connecting to that rack and ultimately is connecting to a central ground source.

So make sure you look at your equipment, make sure you look at your racks, and make sure they’re grounded. And if there is a ground connection, make sure it’s always there. Don’t disconnect it. Don’t remove that ground pin connection from your computer cable. You want to always make sure that there is a path to ground to protect yourself from any type of electrical discharge.

As technicians, we often find ourselves working around moving equipment. A good example of something like a laser printer that’s designed to pull paper through a very hot and very high-pressure environment. So if you’re working anywhere near this type of equipment, you want to be sure to remove any jewelry that you might have, especially around your wrists and around your neck.

And if you are wearing some type of name badge that goes around your neck, either make sure that name badge is designed to automatically break away– there should be a connection in the back. And if it doesn’t, don’t wear that name badge around your neck. You don’t want to catch that badge inside of the printer and have your entire neck pulled into that particular device.

You also don’t want to try to pick up devices that might be too heavy for you. Always try to make sure that you have multiple people involved or that you have specialized equipment that can lift those overweight items.

Another important safety consideration comes when you’re thinking about the potential for fire. We obviously have electronic equipment that’s connected to a power source, so using something like water or foam is obviously not going to be a very good idea. Instead, you want to use something that is a dry chemical or perhaps even CO2 or FM-200. And you should look at your fire extinguishers to make sure that the type of components inside of those are designed to fight fires with electrical systems.

Another important best practice during a fire is to remove the power source. You may not be able to get near the fire and physically unplug devices, so you need to be sure you know where the electrical panels are or where a master power off switch might be. That way you can make sure that no electricity is helping to complicate the process of fighting that fire.

Old-style cathode ray tubes are becoming a lot less common, but you still want to be careful if you’re ever working around one. They do maintain capacitors inside of those monitors that could have some electricity still stored. So you want to be sure if you’re ever working inside of a CRT that you’re taking the proper precautions and you’re using the methods to be able to discharge any type of power that might be inside of those.

In environments that have a lot of pieces of equipment, perhaps a lab or a data center, your cable management becomes important as well. If you have cables across the floor, those become trip hazards. It can certainly be a problem for anybody who might be walking by. Make sure that you’re using cable ties or Velcro to not only keep your tables neat and away from anybody falling, but it also helps eventually if you ever need to troubleshoot any of those cables inside of your network or your power systems.

When health and safety is involved, there are also commonly government regulations involved as well. You want to check and make sure that you are aware of all of the safety regulations for your particular type of environment. Whether you’re in an office complex or a manufacturing floor or something like a hospital, you want to be sure to apply the right regulations and safety precautions for your particular environment.

You not only need to keep top of mind the existing safety laws, but if you’re creating a new area, you’re building out and having construction, there are also a number of building codes that you have to keep in place as well. This especially applies to fire prevention and things like electrical codes that can then prevent any problems that might occur in the future.

We also have to keep in mind that these devices that we have also have components inside of them that might be harmful to the environment. So there are a number of regulations associated with the disposal of these. You don’t just want to throw them into a garbage can. There is a formal process that you can usually reference with the documentation of that device that talks about exactly how you should dispose of all of these high-tech products.