David Zuckerman, VP of ServerLIFT Corporation, says:

Data center professionals face higher risk of injury than some external observers may think.   Employees are faced with the difficult task of deploying and de-commissioning heavy server equipment on a daily basis, usually without the proper tools and training.  According to an anonymous Data Center Injury and Damage survey conducted by ServerLIFT Corporation at Interop 2012, approximately 52 percent said they were aware of an on-site injury.

Here are 4 steps to help prevent injury and streamline data center management:

1) Create a Standard Procedure
Most data centers focus purely on facilities and IT related initiatives and issues.  Rightfully so, since the data center is the technological backbone of every organization. However, they tend to neglect the physical aspects of the job requirements.

According to Mark Sanborn, President of leadership development firm Sanborn & Associates, one of the best ways for organizations to promote safety is to create a quality plan that spells out the exact steps everyone should take in their daily schedules and in the case of an emergency. The procedure should also identify the steps of handling critical and expensive IT equipment.  This simple yet very effective protocol can create a streamlined process; prevent lawsuits, injuries and equipment damage.

2) Educate Staff
Often some of the biggest mistakes occur when data center professionals are ignorant of best practices. If people know how relevant these issues are and what can be done to promote a safe working environment, they will be far more likely to follow the best practices concerning safety. Mark Sanborn stated “By reinforcing awareness education, data center management officials can expect their employees to facilitate safety and halt potentially unsafe practices before they become something much worse”.

3) Provide the Proper Tools
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); manually handling equipment is one of the leading causes of lower back injuries sustained on job sites nationwide. It is highly likely that a data center employee will carry hardware that weighs more than 50 pounds a few times a month.  In most cases, the employee will not have the proper training or tools to perform this task.

OSHA highly recommends using mechanical means to avoid injuries while lifting equipment weighing over 50 lbs.  Today’s leading data centers rely on data center certified server lifts to help safely handle servers and other critical IT equipment.

4) Appoint Safety Leaders
It is important to appoint a safety leader or a safety department.   Sanborn recommended leveraging these individuals as part of a comprehensive safety program. Having workers to spearhead safety initiatives will help to ensure they are more effective as an overall data center management plan.

By taking these key steps, data center operators can be far more confident that professionals in their facility are safe and keeping operations running effectively.