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Personal safety should be your top priority when working with computer components.

  • Exercise great care when working with electricity.
  • Before handling a system component, make sure that it is powered off and that the main power cord is unplugged from the wall socket.
  • Ensure that the grounding pin on a PC power plug is intact.
  • Avoid opening the power supply which houses a capacitor (stores a large charge of electricity).
  • Because newer power supplies constantly pull power from the socket, unplug the system before working on internal components.
  • Anti-static wrist straps not only protect components, but can reduce the chance of accidental electrical shock. Properly ground yourself before working with components.
  • Do not use a grounding strap when working with monitors, power supplies, laptop LCD panels, or other high-voltage components.
  • After turning off a computer, allow components to cool sufficiently before servicing to prevent burns.
  • Make sure the room and the building is properly set up to ensure your safety.
    • Keep work areas and floors clear of clutter to help prevent accidents.
    • Do not route cables across the floor in pathways. This can lead to tripping accidents, and could also result in worn cables.
    • Make sure fire extinguishers and fire suppression methods (such as sprinklers) are properly implemented and maintained.
    • Provide adequate ventilation to remove toxic fumes.
    • Replace worn or frayed power cords.
  • Be careful when lifting heavy objects.
    • Bend your knees and keep your back straight, using your legs to lift objects.
    • If your job requires frequently lifting, wear a back brace for added protection.
    • Use carts and other tools when moving heavy objects for any significant distance.
    • If necessary, ask for help when lifting or moving heavier objects.
  • Maintain and periodically review the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS describes safe handling procedures for dangerous materials.
  • Promptly report any potentially hazardous situations.
  • Your top priority in responding to any incident is to ensure the safety of others. In the event of a hazardous situation, clear people from the area or remove the danger before attempting other actions such as preventing or repairing damage to components.

Keep in mind the following specific issues that can also be hazardous:

  • Use caution when servicing CRT monitors. They can store 20,000 to 30,000 volts of electricity, even when unplugged. Be sure to discharge capacitors or turn the equipment over to qualified personnel for servicing. Similarly, exercise caution when working with the DC converter in a laptop display.
  • Do not use a regular multimeter or other electrical testing equipment to measure charge inside a monitor.
  • Never clean the monitor's glass with a liquid solvent while the monitor is powered on.
  • Never break or open the CRT tube in a monitor. This could cause contact, through touch or inhalation, with toxic substances, such as lead, phosphorous, cadmium, barium and mercury.
  • Components such as the CPU heat sink and fan, the printing head of a dot matrix printer, or components inside a laser printer can be hot.
  • Some studies suggest that laser printers emit tiny particles which could be dangerous when inhaled. As a precaution, do not locate laser printers immediately next to desks, and keep the area ventilated.
  • The power inverter (power supply) converts AC current to DC current. The power supply can retain an electrical charge, even when not plugged in. Replace faulty power supplies instead of trying to repair them.
  • Avoid handling leaky batteries. The leaking electrolytes can be harmful if they get into your eyes.
  • Never look into the end of a fiber optic networking cable. Laser light can damage your eyes.