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Computer mag advice can kill!

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OK, own up, which computer magazines are trying to kill their readers? With newsstand circulation falling through the floor in the last couple of year, the last thing we need is dead punters.

But dead is what you could be if you followed advice to home computer owners on how to install electrostatically sensitive components in computers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warned today. Frustratingly, the HSE does not name the guilty mags. Anyone know who they are, anyone got the clips?

Upgrading your computer is really not worth dying for: So here is the HSE advisory to tell you what not to do:

HSE WARNING OVER SAFETY ADVICE ON UPGRADING PERSONAL COMPUTERS

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today expressed concern about advice given in some computer magazines to home computer owners on how to install electrostatic sensitive components in computers.

To prevent damage to components from static electricity computer owners are being given the potentially dangerous advice to:

  • Plug the computer in to the mains;
  • Switch off the power supply at the mains;
  • Earth themselves to the computer chassis using a conductive wrist strap.

The HSE warns that this procedure can be dangerous. If there is a fault in the computer power supply, or if the electric socket is wired incorrectly, the computer chassis can become live and give a fatal electric shock.

To protect themselves, as well as static-sensitive equipment, HSE would recommend that home computer owners:

  • Disconnect the computer and any attached peripheral equipment from the mains;
  • Before working on the computer, touch a metal radiator, water pipe or similar earthed object to discharge static electricity (static charges usually build up on the person, not the computer);
  • Remove computer covers as necessary;

If instructions on discharging static are provided by the component manufacturer, follow them before unpacking the component; and after installing new components, replace computer covers before connecting
the computer to the mains. Following these instructions should keep owners safe. ®

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