The OVH datacenter in Strasbourg has experienced two fires in quick succession. A particularly striking double incident because the company crystallizes many French hopes to compete with GAFA. And in addition to the symbolic aspect, it above all highlights the issue of the safety of industrial sites.
In the press, the Business Recovery Plan (PRA) was immediately discussed: what to do when my data is lost or my computer system has been temporarily unavailable?
But the OVH data center is also an industrial site, which has other implications. Of which one essential: the employer is obliged to protect his employees from possible incidents. This presupposes management of the risk in its complexity and the implementation of technologies to maximize the responsiveness of the emergency services. So how do you develop a culture of safety in the industry?
Humans, factor X of industrial risk
Octave Klaba, founding president of OVHcloud, explained on March 11 that the fire appeared to have been caused by an inverter, which had been the subject of maintenance the same day. It is safe to assume that the explosion was due to human error.
This type of risk is well known: inverters operate using batteries whose use gives off heat, but these same inverters also contain flammable components. Without an adequate mechanism to dissipate heat, there is a risk of fire. This is why 4% of fires in data centers are due to inverters, according to a study by the Lavoué scientific expertise laboratory.
We are in this situation where a known risk may not have been sufficiently taken into account. If the outcome is relatively happy because of the absence of injuries, it could have been otherwise and the employer has a legal and moral obligation to protect his employees. It must respond to them through a corporate culture and adapted technologies.
Develop a risk management culture
Improving safety management on industrial sites is above all a question of safety culture. This is an ongoing, human-centered concern, which is the number one risk factor. Cyber security experts agree that most attacks are successful because of the unintentional complicity of employees who open email attachments that contain viruses, for example.
The problem is similar in the industrial field: everything is done to ensure that accidents are avoided and their effects are minimized, but personnel must nevertheless be trained and made aware to respect certain safety protocols. A mistake made in good faith can be costly. Sometimes even the survival of a business depends on it.
This brings us to the heart of the problem: to improve risk management, it is necessary to take into account three interconnected factors which are technical, human and organizational. Calling on a specialist service provider is useful, alongside ongoing efforts to raise awareness among staff. It is up to management to promote this culture of risk management.
However, in the event of an accident, one element stands out for its criticality: the fluidity of communication between the actors involved, on which the responsiveness in the event of a possible incident depends.
Fluid communication in the event of a crisis
If everything is done to avoid accidents, zero risk does not exist and it will not exist as long as the human factor is involved. We must therefore look at the issue of responsiveness, a cornerstone of industrial safety for more than 20 years.
Increased responsiveness is the best way to reduce the impact of an accident. This requires equipment allowing any employee to immediately alert his company in the event of a problem using PTI (Lone Worker Protection) and DATI (Lone Worker Alarm Device) devices.
Once the alarm has been received by a central system, the people concerned must be alerted urgently. Scenarios established upstream make it possible to send the right messages to the right people (depending on their location and profile) in real time. Thanks to the training they received beforehand, they will immediately know what to do.
Here, technology plays an activator role and complements risk management training. As a result, teams save precious time to take action, whether it’s getting to safety or taking action to mitigate the damage.
In conclusion, humans are and will remain a risk factor. Awareness efforts must be made to minimize this risk and react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident. The use of technologies ensures a rapid and intelligent dissemination of information when needed, a real gain in responsiveness.
At the same time, managers must get involved in developing a safety culture to prepare employees for incidents and aim for maximum efficiency in risk management.