Computer Technician's Guide to Safety
By Stephen Bucaro
One of the most common physical hazards involving computer technicians is cables running
across the floor. If someone trips, falls, and hurts themselves because of a cable you ran
across the floor, someone (you, your employer, or your customer) has a serious legal negligence
problem. If you need to temporarily run a cable across the floor, place a Danger sign
similar to those "wet floor" signs used by cleaning services.
For cables that are temporary but will need to run across the floor for a longer period
of time, use "gaffers tape". Gaffers tape is is a heavy tape with strong adhesive to stick
to the floor. It comes in a wide range of colors, from unintrusive matte black to hazard warning
red. Although it has strong adhesive, it can be removed easily and cleanly.
For long term cable routing there is a wide variety of cable organizing deviceslike cable
ties, cable wraps, and cable raceways which can be used to run cable safely along the wall
Other common physical hazards includes leaving tools on top of ladders and placing electronic
equipment in precarious positions or on support that is not sturdy enough or not designed for
holding electronic equipment.
When working on electronic equipment, ask yourself "is there any way this equipment could
hurt me". You might stick your hand in a printer and suddenly the paper feed arm moves, feeding
not only paper through the printer, but a piece of your finger too.
You might move your hand past a computer chassis and lose a chunk of flesh because it's
razor sharp. When working on electronic equipment always be alert to any possibility of being
hurt by moving parts, hot components, or sharp edges.
There is a wide array of chemicals used with electronic equipment. There are display cleaning
chemicals, keyboard cleaning chemicals, compressed gas dirt and dust removers, and many cleaning
solvents. Some of these chemicals can be harmful if accidentally swallowed, get on bare skin,
or get in eyes. Before using any chemicals for electronic equipment always read the warnings
and instructions on the label.
Common electronics cleaning chemicals contain isopropyl alcohol. It comes in bottles or cans
at 99% concentration, evaporates very quickly and it does a good job of cleaning PCBs. A more
dangerous chemical used for PCB cleaning is acetone. Acetone is a skin and eye irritant and
an inhalation hazard. If you accidently ingest acetone, it can cause seizures, unconsciousness,
coma, and death.
Flux remover is a combination of alcohol and acetone. Both isopropyl alcohol and acetone
are highly flammable and repeated exposure to skin will dryness and cracking. If one of these
chemicals spashes on your clothing remove that clothing immediately to avoid the chemical soaking
through to your skin, and rinse in clean water any areas of skin where the chemical has soaked
through. If a chemical splashes into your eye, rinse your eye in clean water for several minutes.
Also be very careful when dealing with inkjet printer cartridges, or laser printer toner
cartridges. Ink and toner can stain skin, clothing, and carpet.