Protecting employees and clients from hazards of electrical equipment and ensure data center safety

August 22, 2018

Phillip Sandino, Vice President of Data Center Operations at RagingWire Data Centers, looks at how data center operators can better protect employees and clients from the hazards of electrical equipment and ensure data center safety.

“For decades, data center technicians have worked on energized equipment, even though they put their lives and others around them at risk.

So why do they keep doing it?

To some extent the answer lies in human nature and the nature of data center operators. As humans, we are creatures of habit. As data center operators we like to follow established procedures.

However, those of us in the data center industry have learned a lot over the past two decades. We’ve changed our engineering, building designs, construction processes, etc. Now it’s time to take a hard look at our operational procedures so we can take steps forward to be a safer industry. It’s time to upgrade our data center safety.”

He goes on to explain the need for putting an end to doing energized work and how data center operators and contractors should work together. Phillip also explains how following the 2018 NFPA 70E standard will create a safer work environment for data center electrical safety:

NFPA 70E – New Rules for Data Center Safety

The key safety guidelines for data centers come from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The 2018 version of these guidelines is known as NFPA 70E, titled “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.” This new edition includes revisions to remove the “prohibited approach boundary,” effectively limiting energized work to only a few applications. Commercial convenience is not one of the exempted activities. OSHA uses NFPA 70E for their safety audits and citations.

So how do we get more data center operators to adopt a culture of data center safety? Here is a checklist of steps to take:

The Path Toward Data Center Electrical Safety:

  • Gain commitment from executive leadership to NFPA 70E compliance by:
    • Analyzing the potential risks to people and financials
    • Consulting with an experienced law firm
  • Develop both technical and business practices to work de-energized
  • Develop SLAs that clearly show both the company and clients what to expect
  • Remember that compliance with the law supersedes contract language
  • Develop a legal/business notice of compliance that explains how your company intends to comply with the law
  • Build language about exceptions into your policy
  • Build compliance into maintenance calendars and methods of procedure (MOPS)Analyze your business to understand if you are fully compliant with the law

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