Is the data center a dangerous place? A recent survey from ServerLIFT found that 52 percent of participants report being injured while working in a data center, while 65 percent were aware of damage to equipment that was dropped in their data center workplace.
ServerLIFT has an interest in the issue, as it sells solutions for lifting rack-mounted servers and other IT equipment. ServerLIFT's Jake Iskhakov said data centers aren't always recognized as an environment in which heavy lifting is part of the job.
“Every data center at some point gets a large piece of equipment, and this puts you at risk,” said Iskhakov, director of sales and marketing at ServerLIFT. “There are a few industries that require lifting heavy equipment. Data centers are not commonly recognized as one of those industries.”
Acknowledging the weighty statistics of injury gathered in the survey, Iskhakov went on to connect the data center with the increasing prevalence of back disorders as a cause of disability. Many of those impacted by back disorders work in fields with heavy lifting in the job description.
The ServerLIFT survey polled 113 individuals, 89 of which answered that they had worked in a data center within the past five years. Of the 52 percent who reported injury, 14 percent answered that they had been injured upwards of five times. The other 38 percent were injured on one to four occasions.
While the findings show the common occurrence of injury and damage in the data center, Iskhakov reports that this dilemma is sometimes overlooked even within the field. He said, “Many clients find us and tell us that they had never heard of such an issue,” he added. Over 30 participants in ServerLIFT’s survey were uncertain of any injuries in their workplaces, and over 20 were unsure of any damage caused by dropped equipment.
Iskhakov does not foresee this issue as one that the industry will grow out of. Examining the evolution of data center equipment, he sees the potential for the risk of injury and damage to have staying power.
“As the industry grows, the equipment becomes more compact,” and with this, Iskhakov said, more dense. Though technology will downsize, difficulty in transport will not necessarily shrink along with it. “The risk [for injury and damage] becomes a lot more apparent,” he said, with the direction data centers are evolving.
ServerLIFT is working to raise awareness to increase the possibility for amelioration. On the role of the survey in achieving this goal, Iskhakov said, “We put the statistics out there; we let people know...we can reduce the risk.”