Job Safety has never been more important.
If you work with Fibre Optic Cables/Equipment, you need to be aware of and understand all the applicable Occupational and Health Safety regulations. Whilst also taking into account local government regulations, manufacturer’s instructions, as well as your own companies’ safety rules. And yes, this may seem overwhelming at first, but that’s why we’re here to help you understand everything you need to succeed within the Fibre Optic Industry.
Laser Safety is a crucial safety precaution you need to follow whilst you install fibre optic cable. Avoiding exposure to invisible light radiation potentially carried in the fibre is vital, as it can potentially do significant damage. Looking directly into the fibre is not advised, as the majority of the light will not be visible to the naked eye.
Class 4 lasers are high power lasers and therefore have an output that is hazardous to eyes and skin. Examples of Class 4 Type lasers include some amplifier systems that may use both Raman and EDFA.
You can use a Power Meter to see any optic power present, or you can switch the power off depending on the circumstances. If you are using an Optical Microscope to inspect the connector end face, it’s encouraged to use a microscope with a built-in infrared filter to minimize the danger of invisible infrared light.
For example, the safety filter in the Yamasaki M200 (pictured) and the Yamasaki M400 is called the “Optima GRB3” it is the equivalent of the Schott KG3 (KG-3 Schott High Transmission Optical Filter) and the Hoya HA-30 (Heat Absorbing Filter).
Should you not wish to look directly into the fibre end face you can opt for a Video Microscope that uses either a PC-Screen or Phone screen to display the connector end face, with the PC-Screen having the added benefit of a pass/fail indicator.
Working with Fibre Scraps.
However, what most people consider more dangerous than invisible light radiation are fibre scraps. Fibre Scraps can be everywhere; You produce them when preparing cable, stripping/cleaving fibres and often when cleaning too. Correct disposal of fibres scraps produced when handling fibre cable and terminations is essential. The main concern is they can pierce into your skin, get into your eyes or contaminate your food and drink.
Optical fibre shards are 125 microns in diameter, sharp, thin and almost impossible to see. Glass splinters in your skin can cause pain, irritation, and possible inflammation of the injured area; It could even get infected. Ask any installer who has worked with fibre if they have ever had a glass splinter in their finger and they will tell you it is not pleasant!
Steps to avoid danger.
There are several steps you can take to avoid the danger of fibres scraps and to assist you with a safe working environment.
- Wear Safety Glasses with protective side shields; These glasses can prevent fibre fragments from entering the eye during installation and preparation of fibres.
- Dispose of the fibre scraps into a dedicated container.
- Work on a dark surface so you can see the scraps.
- Disposable Aprons can be worn to protect clothing.
- Near your work area, avoid eating or drinking anywhere.
- Thoroughly clean the work area when you are finished. Do not use compressed air to clean your work area. Sweep all scraps into a safe disposable container.
- Do not allow fibre scraps to accumulate in any hard to reach areas such as seams or edges in the floor.
- Safely remove any fibre scraps from your clothing.
- Last but not least, wash your hands thoroughly after working with fibre.
Always be respectful of other people who may enter your workspace after you have left. They may be unaware of what a fibre shard looks like and might not be able to see it, so you might, unknowingly, be putting them at risk of hurting themselves or digesting glass splinters.
Fibre Optic Tools.
When working with Fibre Optic Cable, you’ll also be required to use a wide range of tools depending on the cable type being installed. Many hand injuries are a result of improper tool use. Only use tools and equipment designed for working with optical fibres or fibre optic cables. Ask yourself, does the function of the tool match the job at hand?
Ensure you maintain your tools by keeping them clean and in good working order. Care when using any tools with cutting blades such as utility knives, cable cutters, or cable sheath strippers is of the utmost importance. Always dispose of any blades safely to not endanger anyone else.
Also, consider what type of cable you are working with. For instance, armoured cable can have sharp edges once prepared and potentially cause injury to any unprotected hands. Wear cut resistant gloves to save yourself from any harm from tools or sharp objects.
Working with chemicals.
Working with Fibre Optics also exposes you to certain chemicals. You will need to use cleaning fluids, solvents and flammable liquids like Isopropyl Alcohol. Handle them carefully and keep the Material Safety Data Sheets for each one you use available. Material Safety Data Sheets will cover things like first aid measures, fire measures, release measures, storage and handling and personal protection. Always work in a well-ventilated area if possible.
Use chemicals away from heat sources, flames and sparks. Avoid breathing in chemicals, skin contact and do not use a chemical if it causes an allergic reaction.
Fusion Splicers use an electric arc to splice. Therefore, no presence of flammable gasses in the same space as where the splicing is being performed is acceptable. Splicing should never be done in places where gasses can accumulate. Smoking should not be permitted around any fibre optic work. The ash from a cigarette can contribute to dust problems and could be dangerous around any combustible chemicals previously mentioned.
There are many other unique safety requirements when handling and installing fibre optic products that should be taken into consideration. We have only just scratched the surface with some basic rules everyone should follow!
If you found this Fibre Optic Safety article helpful or are interested in learning more about the ins and outs of the Fibre Optic world, check out other posts just like this one here!
We would love to hear what you think and answer any other questions you may have, so feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us!