Data centers contain critical company infrastructure and private customer information. These assets must be kept secure and functional 24/7 to maintain and enhance company business and brand reputation. But it is not just the data and equipment that are essential to data center functionality—how do companies put worker safety and well-being, along with environmental health and safety (EHS) compliance as a top priority, while meeting the rigorous demands of business objectives?

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Recognizing common hazards for Data Center workers. 

Data Center Business Drivers

Expanding Capacity: The data center infrastructure market is estimated to grow at 6.79 percent CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) reaching a total market size of US$230.169 billion in 2025 from US $155.201 billion in 2019. As organizations grow and IT becomes increasingly more sophisticated, specialized solutions and procedures are required.

Energy Efficiency: Data centers consume 100 to 200 times more electricity than standard office spaces. With such large power consumption, there is a constant need to re-evaluate energy-efficient design measures to reduce cost and electricity usage, along with focusing on renewable energy sources to enhance brand reputation.

Downtime Costs: As a data center requires continuous functionality, any downtime is expensive. Downtime costs $5,600 per minute on average. This results in average costs between $140,000 and $540,00 per hour depending on the organization.

Protecting the Company's Most Important Assets

Data center employees are highly educated, well trained, and dedicated to company reputation, and are the most important asset to a company. Some hazards that should be eliminated and/or controlled, which could impact the well-being of data center workers, include:

Electrical Hazards: 

Every year in the US, there are approximately 1,000 deaths as a result of electrical injuries and at least 30,000 shock incidents which are non-fatal. Properly trained workers authorized for specific tasks and utilizing safe work practices are crucial to avoid electrical exposure and injuries. Critical procedures and components include adherence to electrical SOPs, arc flash boundaries, insulated tools, LOTO controls, and proper PPE.

Efficiency and Safety Balance: 

Power and cooling requirements have become major factors in the sustainment and growth of data centers, but energy efficiency initiatives can also have side effects that could impact workers such as extreme heat or noise. An environment must be created and monitored where both equipment and humans can function safely.

Emergency Backup Batteries / UPS Systems: 

Uninterruptible power supply/backup systems can expose workers to hazards such as exposed electrical connections, chemicals, and material handling issues. Mishandling can lead to spills and exposure. Ensure proper training on use, handling, and spill response.

EHS Regulatory Compliance: 

Environmental and safety compliance requirements change over time. Consult national, regional and local regulations to align policy and training to the most current standards.

How to Keep Worker Safety a Priority

The first step in keeping workers safe is to ensure you engage the right professionals at every phase. Operations and EHS experts should be included during the data center design and launch, and qualified EHS personnel should review any updates planned to a data center facility for worker safety and usability.

Remember, worker safety goes beyond the initial training session. Continuously provide training updates to maintain awareness of hazards and updated safety procedures.

Finally, make sure that EHS procedures and awareness are reviewed and updated when any equipment or process changes in the data center. Always factor in affected worker’s feedback and safety needs to go beyond strict compliance.

To learn more about how to eliminate environment, health, and safety risks that impact your people, your brand, and your customers so you can focus on growing your business, connect with our Data Center team

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