Fiber Safety

1. Intro

1.1 Description

Although fiber is a relatively safe material to work with, there are some hazards to be aware of. These hazards can be particularly troublesome since bare fiber is microscopic and transparent; it is nearly impossible to detect if you lose track of your scraps.

They come in two forms:

  1. fiber scrap
  2. fiber shard

1.2 Details

There are some details to keep in mind while reading this page:

  1. The fiber cable refers to the glass fiber, cladded and wrapped by both inner and outer jackets.
  2. Bare fiber refers to the glass core that is left after stipping the outer and inner jackets as well as the cladding.
  3. The cable is spooled in the package; the curvature is a hazard as the cable will bend back quickly when straightened out.
  4. Bare fiber is extremely fragile.
  5. Positioning the fiber on the cleaver or splicer is a delicate operation. The fiber is likely to poke a hard surface and bend, leading to breakage. If not careful when unclamping the cable, it will jump out of the tool and back into shape as mentioned in (3).
  6. Once fiber gets in your body, it may never leave as it neither decays or get broken down by the immune system.
  7. Using a microscope to locate fiber is only possible on skin and is extremely challenging due to the scale, the elasticity of skin, and uneven surface of the skin.
  8. The hazards can also affect others who are currently in the space or will be in the future.

2. Fiber Scrap

2.1 Description:

A piece of fiber scrap is a segment of bare fiber which gets created while cleaving or accidentally breaking bare fiber. Scraps can break down into smaller segments or into shards. They are the easier pieces to keep track of due to their length. If a scrap disapears, shining a flash light at different angles on a surface will produce a segment shaped glimmer if it hits a scrap.

As shown in the pictures bellow, the amount of light and angle at which it hits the scrap affects the visibility. Note that these are two different pieces of scrap, which were found by closely inspecting the surfaces using a flashlight.

scrap across table scrap on table scrap on chair

2.2 Hazards:

There are two ways in which scraps are hazardous; pricking and snapping.

2.3 Potential consequences

3. Fiber Shards

3.1 Description:

Fiber shards are microscopic glass shrads; similar to fiberglass dust. They are nearly impossible to track due to their size; the smallest shards can be measured in micrometers (1 micrometer is 1/1000th of a millimeter).

3.2 Hazards:

2.3 Potential consequences





Hazard origins

-> scrap
-> shards

Cutting cable
-> shards

Snapping scrap
-> scrap
-> shards

Stripping jacket/cladding
-> shards


-> pricking
-> ingestion

-> inhalation
-> ingestion
-> skin, eye contact

Potential Health Consequences

Ingestion -> inflamation, internal hemorage

Inhalation -> airway inflamation

Pricking -> infection

Skin, eye contact -> inflamation


Although risks are low for a few installs, over the long run, some installers may want to take more precautions. An extremely safe setup for the most risk averse of installers would be a DIY fume extractor. This setup is compact and mitigates all of the hazards mentioned in the previous sections.

The plexiglass walls contain any dust in a small area, the gloves protect the installer's skin and clothes, and the negative presure fan ensures proper ventilation. In addition, hooks and magnets can be used to keep some tools organized and permanently inside the container (e.g. stripping tool, tzeezers, alcohol pads...). In order to perform a splice near the ceiling, some mechanism needs to be used to strap the container atop a ladder (unless the installer considers a baker scaffolding affordable and convenient)

Equipment list:

  1. 6 18*24 acrylic sheets + acrylic cement + small hinges OR large, clear plastic box (plastic box may not be as practical as custom acrylic box)
  2. 4 inch hole saw
  3. 4 inch pvc pipe
  4. plastic epoxy
  5. 2 worm clamps (for the gloves on the extractor)
  6. gooseneck arms with aligator clips
  7. nonslip pads
  8. arm-length gloves
  1. vaccum/fan with ~40ft 4 inch vent hose
  2. 4 worm clamps (2 for window adaptor to fan, 2 for fan to extractor)
  3. portable ac window adapter

6. Resources

Revision #3
Created 9 December 2023 04:39:39 by Willard Nilges
Updated 20 January 2024 22:14:29 by Lydon Thorpe