The Fiber Optic Association - Tech Topics
Fiber Optic Installations
Download a safety poster from the FOA!
When most people think of safety in fiber optic installations, the first thing that comes to mind is eye damage from laser light in the fiber. They have an image of a laser burning holes in metal or perhaps burning off warts. While these images may be real for their applications, they have little relevance to most types of fiber optic communications. Eye safety is an issue, but usually not from light in the fiber. However, fiber optics installation is not without risks.
Fiber optic splicing and termination use various chemical cleaners and adhesives as part of the processes. Normal handling procedures for these substances should be observed. If you are not certain of how to deal with them, ask the manufacturer for a MSDS. Always work in well-ventilated areas. Avoid skin contact as much as possible, and stop using chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Even simple isopropyl alcohol, used as a cleaner, is flammable and should be handled carefully.
Note that fusion splicers use an electric arc to make splices, so care must be taken to insure no flammable gasses are contained in the space where fusion splicing is done. Splicing is never done in manholes where gasses can accumulate. The cables are brought up to the surface into a splicing trailer where all fiber work is done. Of course the splicing trailer is temperature-controlled and kept spotlessly clean to insure good splicing.
Smoking should also not be allowed around fiber optic work. The ashes from smoking contribute to the dirt problems with fibers, in addition to the chance of explosions due to the presence of combustible substances.
You might be wondering what electrical safety has to do with fiber optics. Well fiber cables are often installed around electrical cables. Electricians are well-trained in electrical safety, but some fiber optic installers are not. We've heard rumors of fiber installers being shocked when working around electrical cables, but know that two fiber installers were killed when working on aerial cables because we heard about it from OSHA.
These two installers were installing all-dielectric self-supporting aerial cables on poles. The hangers, however, were metal and over six feet long. Both had attached the hangers to the poles, then when installing the fiber cables had rotated the hangers enough to contact high-voltage lines.
So even if the fiber is not conductive, fiber hardware can conduct electricity or the installer can come in contact with live electrical wires when working in proximity to AC power.
Fiber Optic Installation Safety Rules:
1. Keep all
food and beverages
out of the work area. If fiber particles are ingested they can
cause internal hemorrhaging
2. Wear disposable aprons to minimize fiber particles on your clothing. Fiber particles on your clothing can later get into food, drinks, and/or be ingested by other means.
3. Always wear safety glasses with side shields and protective gloves. Treat fiber optic splinters the sarne as you would glass splinters.
4. Never look directly into the end of fiber cables until you are positive that there is no light source at the other end. Use a fiber optic power meter to make certain the fiber is dark. When using an optical tracer or continuity checker, look at the fiber from an angle at least 6 inches away from your eye to determine if the visible light is present..
5. Only work in well ventilated areas.
6. Contact wearers must not handle their lenses until they have thoroughly washed their hands.
7. Do not touch your eyes while working with fiber optic systems until they have been thoroughly washed.
8. Keep all combustible materials safely away from the curing ovens.
9. Put all cut fiber pieces in a safe place.
10. Thoroughly clean your work area when you are done.
11. Do not smoke while working with fiber optic systems.
Most Frequent Industry
Recognized Safety Violations
a.) Improper drop bonding with power
b.) Poor workmanship
c.) Incomplete construction
Project Site Safety
a.) Material storage
c.) Break areas
d.) Bathroom/cleanup facilities
e.) First aid equipment availability
f.) Work areas
g.) Power hazards
h.) Stray voltage possibilities
j.) Working in public access areas
3.) Outside Plant Safety
a.) Traffic/defensive driving
b.) Traffic control plan with permits where needed
c.) Power hazards
d.) Clearance issues when working and driving
e.) Off-road access issues
f.) Weather hazards
g.) Unsafe work areas (Including people)
h.) State mandated regulations (General Orders)
i.) Aerial construction issues
j.) Underground construction issues (800-USA DIG)
k.) Aerial lifts
m.) Working in public access areas
Download a safety poster from the FOA!
The Fiber Optic Association,
Return To The FOA Home Page
Return To FOA Tech Topics