4.5 Summarize environmental impacts and local environmental controls

  • Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) / Documentation for Handling and Disposal
    • Proper Battery Disposal
    • Proper Toner Disposal
    • Proper Disposal of Other Devices and Assets
  • Temperature, Humidity Level Awareness, and Proper Ventilation
    • Location / Equipment Placement
    • Dust Cleanup
    • Compressed Air / Vacuums
  • Power Surges, Under Voltage Events, and Power Failures
    • Battery Backup
    • Surge Suppressor

MSDS Documentation

MSDS stands for Material Safety Data Sheet.  Any material (chemical) covered by the WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) must have an MSDS.

An employer is required to provide an MSDS in the workplace for any material that a worker or contractor is exposed to.  MSDS are provided by the supplier of the material.  It’s your right to view the MSDS.

An MSDS contains

  • Product Information: product identifier (name), manufacturer and suppliers’ names, addresses, and emergency phone numbers
  • Hazardous Ingredients
  • Physical Data
  • Fire or Explosion Hazard Data
  • Reactivity Data: information on the chemical instability of a product and the substances it may react with
  • Toxicological Properties: health effects
  • Preventive Measures
  • First Aid Measures
  • Preparation Information: who is responsible for preparation and date of preparation of MSDS

In the United States, they are called SDS (Safety Data Sheets).  An employer is required by law to provide the SDS to employees.  It’s your right to view the SDS.

The most important thing is that you know how to properly handle the material safely and dispose of it.  That includes wearing proper safety protection.

Toxic Waste Handling

We should take care to dispose of toxic waste in accordance with established laws and regulations.  Some types of toxic waste materials include

  • Batteries

    • Check local regulations and recycling programs.  Some communities will accept used batteries for recycling

  • Used toner cartridges

    • Send them back to the manufacturer

    • Most manufacturers will pick up waste toner cartridges for free, refill them, and then resell them

  • CRT Monitors

    • CRT monitors contain lead

    • Contact a recycling agency or local municipality to dispose of them

  • Cell phones & tablets

    • Donate them if data leaks are not a risk and if the devices are still functioning

Every city has a few companies that offer to pick up your used electronics for free or for a small fee.  They say that they will recycle them for you.  These electronics usually end up in a third world country where children are paid pennies to extract the precious metals from them.  Always investigate where your used electronics end up.

Temperature, humidity level awareness, and proper ventilation

In any building or workplace, there are three several ventilation requirements

  • Temperature – the temperature of the room should be comfortable for the occupants.  In a server room, the temperature should be 68° to 75°F (20° to 24°C) so that the equipment can be cooled properly.

  • Humidity – the humidity (water content in the air) should be comfortable for the occupants.  Server room humidity should be set between 45% and 55%.  If the humidity is too high, water content will corrode the equipment.  If the humidity is too low, then there is an increased risk of electrostatic discharges.

  • Proper Ventilation – the building requires fresh air.  The amount of fresh air required depends on the number of occupants.  In a server room, proper air circulation is necessary.  Hot air is ejected from the room and cool air is brought in.

Computer and network equipment are designed with a hot side and a cool side.  The fan draws cool air through the cool side and pushes it through the chassis.  The cool air absorbs heat generated by the equipment and is ejected from the hot side (as hot air). 

When you install the equipment, you should ensure that all the cool sides face one direction.  If you have an air conditioner, the cool sides should face it.

Power surges, brownouts, and blackouts

Poor power conditions can damage our equipment.  We should use a battery backup and surge suppressor where necessary.

A power surge is when too much power electricity enters the building wiring.  It is often caused by a lightning strike.  A power surge can damage the electrical equipment.  Prevent power surges by installing surge protectors.

A brownout is when the voltage in the electrical system drops.  This happens when the power company can’t supply enough electricity to keep up with demand.  It may cause electrical equipment to slow down or stop working until proper power is restored.

A blackout is when we have no power.  It is caused by damage to the electrical system or by a malfunction at the power company.  Blackouts and brownouts can’t be prevented.

A battery provides power for a limited amount of time but can be supplemented by an electrical generator.

We can install a UPS or Uninterruptable Power Supply between the power from the utility company and our equipment.  We connect our equipment to the UPS, and we connect the UPS to the municipal power supply.  If the municipal power supply fails (a blackout) or decreases (a brownout), then the UPS takes over.  The UPS must be able to take over so quickly that our equipment doesn’t notice and shut down. 

A UPS may also protect against power surges (when too much power rushes into the building, which could damage the equipment).  When the municipal power supply is active, the UPS charges its batteries.  When it fails, the UPS supplies the connected equipment from the battery.

The size of the UPS that we need depends on the quantity and type of equipment that we have.  The amount of power that a piece of equipment uses is measured in Watts.  Add up the total Wattage of all the equipment you want to protect.  Equipment may use more power when it is busy than when it is idle.  We should calculate the maximum power consumption of all our equipment.

Each UPS has a Wattage rating.  We should not exceed the Wattage rating of the UPS.  We should consider purchasing a UPS that can handle 20% to 50% more capacity than we are consuming.  This allows us to add additional equipment in the future and considers that no UPS is 100% efficient.

The second factor we should consider is the runtime.  The runtime tells us how many hours the UPS can power our equipment for.  We should think about how much time we need to properly shut down our equipment.  If shutting down the equipment is not an option, then we should think about how much time we need until our power generator takes over.

A generator is a piece of equipment that converts diesel into electricity.  If we experience a lengthy blackout, our UPS will run out of power, but the generator can continue to produce electricity.

Dust and debris

Dust can plug fans and other components of electronic devices.  Dust prevents proper ventilation and can cause equipment to overheat or jam. 

You can prevent dust from accumulating by installing a proper filter in your HVAC system.  If you still have dust in your equipment, you can remove it with a compressed air can or a vacuum.