We live in a world of ‘always-on’. Almost at any cost. Data centers are a prime example of resources and infrastructure destined to function continuously without outage or breakage. While 100% business continuity may be a praiseworthy goal, the problem comes when it is pursued at the expense of data center safety. If any of the following happens in your data center, a swift safety upgrade could be your first priority.

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So Lights-Out You Don’t Know What It Looks Like

Automation and remote management are blessings but potentially dangerous ones if they mean you never visit your data center. Even camera surveillance will unlikely let you pick up on some of the following safety blunders. Regular on-site, in-person checks are still mandatory.

‘Non-Stop’ Culture Stopping Suitable Power Safety

Power consumption and power supplies in data centers can be huge. This can lead to electrical hazards like arc flash when electricity escapes from the route it should take and strikes workers nearby.

Protective gear is mandatory, but you cannot do it all. Some equipment must be powered down and de-energized before being worked on. Proper power circuit design can avoid shutting down the entire data center.

Failing this, however, a ‘non-stop-at-any-cost’ attitude can lead to fines, accidents, and fatalities.

Lack of Safety Training

Your data center engineers may be wizards at virtualization and IT security, but can they demonstrate knowledge of the basic data center safety rules?

To stay updated, certified safety classes and regular refresher courses can be a good solution, with records to ensure everybody attends.

Check all the bases are covered, from food and drink rules (only within designated areas) and cable installations that won’t trip people up to emergency procedures and first aid in case of injury.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Wannabes – Don’t Do It

Weightlifting is for the gym, not for servers or server racks that can range from 50 pounds to 500 pounds and upwards. Proper equipment must be used to lift, install, and de-install IT equipment.

Otherwise, employees risk classic back injuries from incorrect or excessive lifting or being crushed by toppling server towers.

Your Data Center May Be Non-Stop, But You Are Not

Human beings can demonstrate extraordinary problem-solving powers, but only for so long.

Beyond a certain number of hours, that depends on who you are –but often no more than about 8 – concentration flags and mistakes multiply. It isn’t worth it and can be dangerous as well as ineffective. Take a long break (or sleep), or hand it over to the next shift for further progress.

Fire Hazards to be Avoided

IT equipment packaging can be a fire hazard if items are unpacked in the data center location where they are to be installed. Don’t assume your fire protection systems will handle every eventuality either. The local fire service could show up and hose everything down – forever.

Back-burnering this aspect and failing to plan fire safety with your fire service could be playing with fire.

Which data center safety rule is the one you find needs to be reinforced the most in your data center? Tell us about your safety priorities in the Comments section below.

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