Over one third of all injuries in the data center are from manual server lifting and handling. Musculoskeletal disorders are the primary affliction, accounting for 60% of those work-related issues.
It’s important that Data Center Managers impose safe limits for employees that are carrying out manual handling tasks. OSHA suggests 50 pounds as a maximum weight limit. Knowing what factors affect your employees’ ability to perform the task and awareness of manual handling weight limits will enable you to implement safe processes. If the loads are relatively light then good handling techniques may be all that is required to keep your people safe.
When it comes to lifting heavier loads it may be intuitive to simply bring in more people to help lift. The difficulty coordinating combined with the challenge of several people trying to grip a server while stepping on each other’s toes in a tight data center aisle makes it a very bad idea.
The amount of weight your people are able to lift and transport manually depends on four factors:
The Task Itself
If it’s carried out for too long or too frequently it may cause unnecessary strain on the person’s body, regardless of whether it hits the 50 pound mark or not.
Everyone’s capabilities are different. Various factors contribute to this – the person’s age, health and physical size.
If it is large and bulky, they may find themselves struggling to get a solid grip. This could lead to the load slipping out of their hands.
Data center aisles can be very tight. Manual server lifting is simply too risky to carry out if there isn’t enough space.
At some point logic must prevail and a prudent manager must consider the frequency of lifts and average weight of servers being installed. The question that has to be asked is, “Should I be using my technicians as human forklifts or is it time to begin using a data center lift tool?”
Here are a few common items and weights that will give you perspective about the lifting tasks that you may be expecting of your people.
Compare what you see here to the weight specifications of your servers:
A refrigerator weighs approximately 200 pounds. (91 kg)
Seven cases of beer (24 pack) weigh about 250 pounds. (23 kg)
An upright piano weighs between 300 and 400 pounds. (136 to 181 kg)
A mining truck tire is almost 500 pounds. (227 kg)
A Harley Davidson Fat Boy weights over 600 pounds. (272 kg)
These kinds of weights are not meant for manual lifting.