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Safety in Fiber Optic Installations

Fiber optic cables are now widely employed for the purpose of enhancing voice and data communication in many different applications. The flexibility of the technology is extraordinary, and advances in methods of communication have revealed even more uses for fiber optics. However, not all people, who install or maintain fiber optic cables, take proper safety precautions to avoid the hazards caused by fiber optics. Sometimes they just ignore the potential dangers of optical fiber. Unfortunately, accidents occur because of this neglect. This article will emphasize on introducing some common hazards that come with fiber optic installations and offering rules for safe installation.

Hazards of Working with Fiber Optics

The part will describe elements involved in safety protection issues when working with fiber optics. These are eye safety, bare fiber safety and other considerations for safety.

Eye Safety

Many people are concerned that the most dangerous part of fiber-optic work was the chance you might get your eyes harmed by laser light in the fiber. However, in fact, most fiber-optic systems do not have sufficient power to cause harm to your eyes and the light coming out of a fiber is expanding, so the farther you are away from the end of the fiber, the lower the exposure.

fiber optic safety

However, it’s not a good idea to look into a fiber unless you know no source is being transmitted down it. You should always check the fiber with a power meter before examining it. The real issue of eye safety is getting fiber scraps into the eye. During the process of termination and splicing, you will be continually exposed to small scraps of bare fiber. And these scraps are very dangerous. Once they get into your eyes, they are very hard to flush out and will probably lead to a trip to the emergency room at the hospital. Whenever you are working with fiber, wear safety glasses!

Bare Fiber Safety

The fibers themselves are a very serious hazard since they are small pieces of glass. If possible, use a dark plastic mat for a work surface, which will make it easier to see the fibers you are working with and handle them more carefully.

When trimming, stripping, or cutting fibers, tiny fragments can penetrate the skin and become embedded, causing a serious irritation. Ingested fibers can cause internal damage since they are light enough to float in air. Because of this, workers should not eat or drink in a fiber optic work area since a fiber scrap could fall onto their food or in their drink.

Other Considerations for Safety

Fiber optic splicing and termination use various chemical cleaners and adhesives as part of the processes. And these substances should be properly handled. Note that fusion splicers use an electric arc to make splices, so one should ensure no flammable gases are contained in the space where fusion splicing is done. Smoking should not be allowed around fiber optic work.

Fiber Optic Installation Safety Rules
  • Keep all food and beverages out of the work area in case fiber particles are ingested
  • 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.
  • Always wear safety glasses with side shields and protective gloves. Treat fiber optic splinters the same as you would glass splinters.
  • 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.
  • Only work in well ventilated areas.
  • Contact wearers must not handle their lenses until they have thoroughly washed their hands.
  • Do not touch your eyes while working with fiber optic systems until they have been thoroughly washed.
  • Keep all combustible materials safely away from the curing ovens.
  • Put all cut fiber pieces in a safe place.
  • Thoroughly clean your work area when you are done.
  • Do not smoke while working with fiber optic systems.

In conclusion, the awareness of safety should be raised among fiber optic installers, and each technician must adopt the best practices for safe handling of all fiber optic components to preserve the safe environment. Hope these simple fiber optic safety rules can contribute to building a healthy and sound work space.

Introduction to Fiber Optic Inspection, Cleaning and Testing

As fiber optics are the mainstream of the modern data communication network, the inspection, cleaning and testing of fiber optics are becoming significant for the precision of signal transmission. This article will focus on the fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing.

Fiber Optic Inspection

With the increasing higher data rates and decreasing small loss budgets, the fiber optic inspection and cleaning are becoming more and more important. Proper inspection and cleaning is the only way to decrease the overall light loss. Contamination and damage are the two types of problems that will cause loss when doing the fiber optic connection with the adapters.

Contamination comes in many forms which can be dust, oils or even the buffer gel. Oil comes from bodies when making a touching with the fiber’s end face. Dust and the small static-charged particles flying in the air can land on the fiber’s exposed termination. Buffer gel and pulling lube can easily find its way onto an end-face during the new installations. Scratching, chipping, pitting or cracking of the fiber optic cable will cause the end-face surface defects which as a result of poor termination or mated contamination.

Portable microscope is used to inspect the fiber optic end-face. Optical and video microscopes can be found in the market today. Optical microscopes incorporate and objective lens and an eyepiece lens which allow you to view the end face directly. Video microscopes, however, have both an optical probe and a display for viewing. The display screens will show the expanded images of the contaminants and damages.

Fiber Optic Cleaning

The most traditional and suboptimal way to clean the fiber optic end-face is blasting the fiber cables with canned air, or using IPA. Fiber optic specialist today have developed series special solvent and cleaning tools which can be found in the fiber optic leaning kits. The special fiber solvent are perfect for dissolving virtually any contaminant on the fiber end-face and have tailored evaporation rates that give them time to work yet disappear before mating. One-push cleaner is one of the most popular cleaning tool for fiber optic connector (see the picture below).

One-push cleaner

Fiber Optic Testing

After the inspection and cleaning of the fiber optics, the next step is to implement the fiber optic testing, which includes the certification and verification of the optical fibers. Fiber optic certification has experienced a development form Tier 1 to Tier 2, which are based on the certification of new cabling per IEEE, TIA, or ISO/IEC standards.

Tier 1 is the basic test regiment which is performed with a power meter and light source or optical loss test set to measure the absolute loss of the link and compare it to the limits of the standards. Tier 2 is the extended Tier 1 testing which bring the application of OTDR testing. By the use of OTDR, it will allow to trace each fiber link. OTDR trace will enable people to certify the quality of the fiber optic splicing, connection, and installation.


Fiber optic inspection, cleaning and testing are essential for accurate data transmission. Using the high-quality fiber testers and tools would be helpful to achieve the purpose. Fiberstore has various fiber optic testers and tools, including the one-push cleaner (pend cleaner), fiber optic microscope, and optical power meter, OTDR, etc. All of these items are of great quality and competitive price. If you are looking for fiber optic testers and tools, Fiberstore would be an excellent option.