Server Room Safety and Your Employees: What You Should Know
by Stephanie Faris on Monday, June 22 6:00
Businesses focus a great deal of time and attention on keeping server equipment safe in a server room. But what about the employees that install and maintain that equipment? An injured worker is far more serious a situation than an overheating hard drive or a failed backup tape.
Your employees are your business s most valuable commodities. Whether you re setting up a new server room or supporting one that is already in place, there are some things you should do to keep your workers safe.
The first step you should take is to protect the greater employee base. Often server rooms are behind closed doors with no windows. This traps the room out of the view of employees, which is often considered necessary for security reasons. However, this lack of visibility could become a problem should a fire break out in the room, since none of the workers outside the room would be able to see it. For that reason, smoke detectors are essential for server rooms.
Air Suppression System Safety
Because sprinklers could devastate a server room, many businesses opt for air suppression systems as a fire safety measure. These systems change the oxygen content of a room, effectively preventing a fire from starting. However, while low concentrations of oxygen are considered safe for most people, being in such a room may negatively impact those who suffer from some chronic diseases once the system has kicked in. For that reason, your employees should be instructed to exit the space as quickly as possible should the system ever activate.
Noise and Visibility
Server rooms are designed to be occupied by equipment, not people. Unfortunately, administrators often must spend large chunks of time in those rooms, especially if new equipment is being installed. While most of the work can now be done by remoting in, sometimes it makes more sense to be in the server room, where workers can access hardware as they need it. Unfortunately, the combined sounds of fans and hard drives can present a hazard to the auditory health of those workers. Perhaps even more disturbing is the danger it poses to a professional s eyesight, since he ll be working in dim lighting for hours at a time.
Of all of the dangers, however, the biggest hazard likely resides at foot level. Because server rooms are windowless and poorly lit, it can be difficult for workers to see where they re going. Raised floors and sudden steps can easily trip a worker up, leading to broken bones and months of healing. Even if a floor is level, administrators often string cables from equipment to wall jacks, placing tripping hazards directly in the path of those passing through. Try to keep walkways clear and avoid uneven flooring if at all possible.
A server room needs to be safe for both your equipment and your workers. By avoiding some of the biggest hazards your server room workers could face, you ll be able to avoid costly worker s compensation claims and keep your employees healthy and safe for many years to come.