Keeping your data centre staff safe

Our biggest asset is our people and to that end, all those working within the data centre at any time should be fully briefed on data centre security measures. This is particularly important for those assisting with maintenance within the data centre. Ensure that you have good health and safety documentation and that staff are fully briefed on procedures.
Make sure that any damaged floor tiles are covered or cordoned off to avoid injuries. During maintenance, no more than 4 floor tiles should be removed at any one time, using a tile-puller and disposed of safely.
Cables should be cleaned to avoid creating dirt within the data centre and should not be left on the floor as they prevent a hazard. Man cabling areas throughout the cabling process to protect staff from tripping and causing injury.
Many elements within a data centre will require attention from specialists such as electricians – it is preferable to have an electrician who is not only qualified but also familiar with the intricacies of data centres. Do not allow untrained or unqualified staff to undertake work within the data centre to protect both staff and IT equipment.

Preventative Maintenance

As with all things, prevention is far better than cure. Preventative maintenance is key to ensuring you are safe from UPS and battery failure during power outages. Generators, air- conditioning and other critical systems are no different and with regular maintenance you will have peace of mind that all back up is in good working order should there ever be a need to use it.
Have a maintenance plan that is regular and thorough. For instance: UPS should be serviced annually, including impedance tests for batteries. This can be done together with alarms and CCTV security – this is also a good time to consider getting your data centre cleaned too, especially important for external rooms. Fire suppression systems need bi-annual servicing, once of which must include an updated integrity test whereas air conditioning and cooling systems should be serviced four times a year with consumable changes as specified by individual suppliers.
A good battery monitoring system is invaluable – in-fact essential for when power outages occur. A monitoring system will raise the alarm as soon as any batteries are no longer suitable to support power outages and this in turn will save degrading other cells within the data centre, ensuring you back up is there when it is needed. Generators should be tested on a monthly basis to ensure activation during power outages and should be maintained regularly to avoid fuel contamination or ‘dead start’ batteries.
Modular DC panels should be surveyed regularly (minimum annually) for leaks along with air- conditioning pipework, liquid detectors are equally important in the event of a flood or leak arising within or around the data centre. Water damage is costly, not only in replacement of IT equipment but in repair and dehumidifying of the room during recovery.
Fire extinguishers should be checked annually and can be easily replaced like for like with new ones should they be unusable. A spare cylinder on site is useful in the event of a fire suppression dump, to avoid costly downtime whilst used cylinders are replaced. Maintenance does require some investment but in the long run well worth it.