Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Making electronics safer

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 4: Electronics factories > Making electronics safer


From computers to cell phones, electronics have become so central to our lives that it is hard to imagine living without them. But the dangers to the health of workers and communities are often too high to live with them! A number of groups internationally have formed to change the way we make, use, and dispose of electronics. They say:

a group of people holding protest signs; one of them reads, "Involve workers and communities to create solutions!"

Make them safe

  • Design less toxic electronics – find safer substitutes for dangerous chemicals.
  • Do not use workers or customers to test whether materials are safe or dangerous.
  • Design products that use less energy and have less of a bad impact on the environment.
  • Design products that are durable and can be repaired and reused easily.
  • Make products that can be recycled easily.
  • Use as many recycled materials as possible.

Take it back

  • Electronics manufacturers must create programs to take back and recycle their products for free.
  • Electronics manufacturers must be responsible for their products. It is their job to ensure they are recycled safely.

Recycle responsibly

  • Recycling laws should be passed to make recycling safer for people and the environment.
  • Work towards zero waste – find ways of reducing and reusing materials.
  • Do not dump toxic electronics waste (e-waste) in developing countries.
  • Do not use prison labor to do recycling – it’s toxic forced labor!