Fiber cables are often heralded for being a cleaner, safer alternative to copper based electrical wires. This is really only the case, however, once fiber optics are up and running. During the installation and maintenance stage, there are important factors that operators need to be aware of in order to avoid injury.
Here are some basic safety tips that you should always keep in mind when working around sensitive fiber optic hardware:
Always remember that fiber optic cable is constructed with tiny interwoven strands of glass. When fiber is terminated or spliced, these cables can be extremely sharp and can cut through skin. Just like a small sliver of wood, scraps of fiber optics can be all but impossible to find when they become lodged in a finger or hand.
To make matters worse, once glass is embedded in your skin, it is difficult to find due to its transparent nature. Oftentimes, fiber optics are extremely difficult to locate once they enter the body and will have to be worked out over the course of time.
It is also important to be mindful of others when disposing of old fiber optics. One solution is to dedicate a secure, labeled container to be used for primarily for discarding unwanted cables—similar to the way that hypodermic needles are disposed.
Fiber cables are well renowned for their ability to prevent fires due to the fact that there is no electricity transmitted through a cable. However, electricity is used during the splicing stage. Therefore, it is important to avoid open flames or gasses that can accumulate. Make sure to use ventilation if you are working within a confined space.
Fiber optics use an array of chemicals during the cleaning and splicing process. These chemicals can be harmful to the skin and should therefore be avoided. They can also be flammable. Best practices call for wearing gloves and consulting installation manuals or experts prior to installation in order to mitigate the likelihood of coming into direct bare skin contact with them.