Fiber optics safety is a crucial part of successfully completing a fiber optic installation or repair. Safety can often be overlooked when working with fiber as it is an extremely safe working material. Although this is true, safety should still be a top priority when doing an installation or performing maintenance on a fiber system. In today’s blog post we will review some of the most important safety concerns when performing your job.
Today we will review the top 10 fiber optics safety rules for when you are installing fiber:
- Make sure not to bring food or beverages into the work area. Particles from the fiber, including very small fragments of glass, can make their way into your food or drink. These glass particles can cause lacerations or abrasions to your throat or digestive system.
- Make sure you wear safety glasses and gloves. Again, glass fragments can make their way into your eyes and cause scratching to your eyeball or eyelid. This is especially true with people who wear contact lenses. Make very sure that you thoroughly wash your hands before handling your contacts.
- You should always wear an apron in the work area. A lot of times, a disposable apron is used. The apron will act as a barrier to stop small fiber particles from attaching themselves to clothing which can later be ingested through food or drink.
- It is very important to not look down fiber ends without ensuring that there is no visible light coming through the fiber. You can use an optical tracer or a continuity checker to verify that the fiber is dark. The light coming through the cable will not be visible to the human eye because we can’t see the wavelength that is sent down the fiber. You can still receive damage to your eyes even though the light isn’t visible.
- Fire safety doesn’t seem like it would be an issue but it should certainly be accounted for. A lot of fusion splicer models use an electric arc to make splices. If there are gas accumulations in the environment, this arc can start a fire. Splicing should never be done in manholes as gasses can build up in them. The cable should be brought to the surface into a splicing trailer where all the splices can be done in a clean and climate-controlled environment. Smoking should also not be allowed in the work environment as ashes can also dirty the fiber and you will have poor connection qualities.
- Proper cleanup and disposal of debris are also imperative to create a safe environment. Fiber pieces should always be properly handled and discarded. Most technicians carry a small container with a lid to store debris until they can get to a properly labeled trash can. The trash can should clearly say “Contains Glass Debris” and have a disposable can liner in it. Some technicians also use a popular method of wrapping some masking tape around a few fingers with the sticky side facing out. This will grab the fibers as soon as they are cut.
- Solvent bottles should never be left uncapped. Obviously, this will allow for spills or contamination. Rather than keeping bottles of solvents for cleaning
- Fiber Optic splinters are a very big issue. Typically, if you have dealt with Fiber you have received one of these splinters. When you cleave the fiber there will be pieces of glass that come out of the fiber that may land on a table where the job is performed, brushed into a garbage can, or even fall into a cup of coffee nearby. The glass is transparent and very small so unless you did the termination, you will have no way to know the glass is there. Once it breaks the skin, in most cases, the splinter cannot be removed until the area becomes infected.
- There are lots of chemicals and solvents that are used in fiber optic applications. As always the case, you should make sure to keep the MSDS (material safety data sheet) close by for any chemicals. You should review these MSDS also and be aware of the chemicals for which you are dealing with.
- The last safety tip is to make sure you are in tune with your work environment. When installing or repairing fiber cables you will be required to work in a variety of workspaces. Make sure to pay attention to hot trays, hot wires and always remember basic safety such as lockout/tag out and harness and tie-offs. It is also common to have a tool lanyard or tool bungee connected to pieces like OTDR units, fiberscopes, etc. if you are working from heights in case you drop a piece of equipment.
While fiber optics are typically considered one of the safest materials to work with there is always a reason to remember all of your safety precautions. If you are in need of anything that we mentioned above or anything that your specific site requires, please remember to call JM Test Systems and let us get you everything that you need to get your job done safely and efficiently.