Sloppy IT storage almost turns deadly – and costs $4.3 million

When most people think about “IT dangers,” they focus on security risks. But one organization’s IT supply closet actually posed a serious health risk – and resulted in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. 

A switch was failing in the IT supply and equipment room for the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Phoenix facility. Paul Clabaugh, a contractor, was called in to fix the problem.

When he got there, he found that the room, which should’ve been around 70-75 degrees was a sweltering 140 degrees due to a broken air conditioning system.

He tried repairing the switch, but after 20 minutes his eyes and skin started to sting. The culprit: batteries that had overheated and ruptured, essentially causing the room to fill up with sulfuric acid gas.fixing-computer

Clabaugh had breathed in that gas, and was totally disabled as a result. A Maricopa, AZ, jury awarded him and his wife $4.3 million, saying that the company had negligently failed to maintain the batteries.

Keep facilities safe

Data centers and IT facilities should be kept in good repair at all times – and not just for safety purposes. Keeping a clean, well-organized department also boosts efficiency and can extend the life of equipment.

Some data center keys to consider:

  • Shorten cabling. Long cables have the potential to pose a tripping hazard, could potentially slow speeds and makes it time-consuming to troubleshoot cabling issues.
  • Allow for airflow. According to Google, preventing hot air from equipment from blowing onto cool equipment can result in increased efficiency. That can be as easy as hanging plastic curtains to keep the hot air away from cool aisles.
  • Recycle equipment. If there’s equipment in your data center or storage area that’s more than a few years old, it’s time to let it go. Wipe the equipment thoroughly, then re-sell it or recycle it.

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