What doesn’t kill you..

It could have killed you

As a SysAdmin I am used to being around potentially dangerous situations like people working with high Voltage/current power feeds, fire suppression systems, heights and dealing with heavy equipment. The cost of a mistake can be serious, and possibly fatal. However, these are all jobs where you need to hire a trained professional to do it.

There are plenty of other hazards to deal with. I have had several computers burst into flames, dodgy wiring (230V has a bite..), and there was the time a Doberman try to attack me on a site visit. There are also the less exciting/entertaining little cuts and bruises, tripping hazards and the ever present stress.

But I don’t want to die!

Let face it, getting injured sucks and is usually pretty easy to avoid. So, what can you do? There are the obvious:

  • Suitable Fire Extinguishers and training for staff
  • First Aid kits – they should be accessible in an emergency, not locked in a cupboard
  • First Aid Training for everyone in your team – you are more likely to be working late or on weekends, and more often around hazards

And the things we know we should do, but never do:

  • Clean up as you go – it seems basic, but it is so easy to trip on something
  • Keep pathways clear – don’t leave boxes in the way
  • RCD power points on your workbench
  • Use the proper tool – don’t open boxes with a 9″ Rambo knife
  • Don’t do stupid crap – No, really, we both know it’s dangerous
  • Leave things in a safe state – put that floor tile back when you go for lunch

The Elephant in the room

The big, silent danger in every IT team I have worked with is stress. In the short term stress is normal, and can be healthy. Long term stress however takes a toll on your health, your relationships, and can lead to burnout. Matt Simmons (@standaloneSA) has written some great SysAdmin specific pieces on Burnout and Managing Stress Before it Kills You.

Well that was a downer

This hasn’t been an exhaustive list of hazards we deal with in IT, but it should get you thinking and be a start. Work with your team and find solutions to prevent hazards you may have experienced. Use the opportunity to re-think your workspace and how you can make it better.

I know reading about work place safety isn’t the most exciting topic. Well done for making it this far. Now go surf Reddit and XKCD for a bit. Tell your boss I said it was ok.

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