There are a variety of dangers inherent to the skilled trades. Of course, dangers exist with every job, but anytime you are using tools in combination with water, electricity and gases, well, the opportunity for an accident escalates.
This is why it’s important for electricians, HVAC technicians and plumbers to understand the potential risks and dangers of the job. When they have the proper information and instruction, they can take precautions that promote safe working conditions and improve their personal safety.
Allow NexTech Academy and our curriculum of vocational training programs to help you understand some of the top risks. Then, we’ll explore opportunities to increase safety for electricians, HVAC technicians and plumbers.
Five dangers electricians should consider.
The United States Department of Labor has identified these five potential threats to an electrician’s on-the-job safety.
1. Contact with power lines.
Many tools commonly used by an electrician, such as metal ladders, shovels or scaffolds, can inadvertently come into contact with power lines.
2. Lack of ground fault protection.
Wear and tear on electrical products and materials can result in insulation breaks, short-circuits and exposed wires that can result in burns, explosions and other issues.
3. Path to ground missing or discontinuous.
If the power supply to the electrical equipment at your site is not grounded or the path has been broken, fault current may travel through a worker’s body, causing electrical burns or death. Even when the power system is properly grounded, electrical equipment can instantly change from safe to hazardous because of extreme conditions and rough treatment.
4. Equipment not used in a prescribed manner.
Electrical tools are designed for specific purposes and to be used in a defined manner. Using one in a method that isn’t advised or for a job that’s outside recommendations can subvert safety features and result in injury.
5. Improper use of extension cords.
Normal use can loosen or expose wires creating a hazardous condition to work in. Cords that are not 3-wire type, not designed for hard usage or that have been modified increase your risk of contacting electrical current.
Five dangers HVAC technicians should consider.
Surprisingly, a report by the United States Bureau of Labor showed that in 2015, being an HVAC technician was among the 10 most dangerous jobs in America. According to ServiceTitan, here are the 7 dangers HVAC technicians should be aware of.
1. Electrical hazards.
It is essential to de-energize all equipment prior to performing routine inspections, tests, repairs and other service actions.
2. Chemical exposure.
Among the biggest threats to HVAC technicians is exposure to chemicals such as refrigerants, cleaners, solvents and gases.
3. Inadequate equipment inventory.
Ensuring you have the right tools to perform the task, and checking to make sure they are operating correctly can help diminish many job site accidents.
4. Respiratory risks.
The most common threats to safety for an HVAC technician are respiratory-related. Mold, bacteria and fungus can all thrive in dirty air filters, while carbon monoxide can result from faulty heat exchangers, pilot lights or leaking furnace supply lines.
5. Ladder liability.
There is nothing safe about using a ladder. Be safe, be smart, move slowly and always double-check that the ladder is secure and stable.
Five dangers plumbers should consider.
According to Plumber magazine, there are 10 common dangers that should be accounted for by all plumbers on the job site.
1. Working at high heights
Anytime you are off the ground, the danger increases, and so does the damage that can result from an accident such as a fall or slip.
2. Confined spaces.
The smaller the space, such as boilers, storage tanks, sewers, pipes, ducts and pits, the greater that chance for dangers related to toxic gases or diminished oxygen levels.
While it’s well documented and well known, asbestos still remains a threat in many older homes—oftentimes, unbeknownst to the homeowner.
4. Hearing loss
The World Health Organization’s protection report shows that up to 48% of plumbers have reported a hearing loss due to banging tools, noisy pipes, and electronic machinery.
Mold feeds off of moisture and natural materials such as wood or cardboard—exactly the types of materials and spaces that plumbers work in every day.
Work safer by being smarter.
While some of the threats are unique to a specific trade, many dangers are universal across all of these career options. At NexTech Academy, we want to help electricians, HVAC technicians and plumbers to work safer, so we are providing some essential tips.
Utilize hearing protection.
Hearing is precious and key to the way most people communicate. If you lose your hearing, it never comes back.
Protect your back.
When lifting or moving heavy equipment or materials, use proper form and mechanical assistance like dollies whenever possible. While dramatic back injuries can happen from one incident, most are the result of microtraumas—small injuries that cause muscle aches, spasms, and limited flexibility.
Use respiratory equipment properly.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but wearing respiratory equipment properly is important. Inhaled gases or fumes can cause illness or death. And like other threats, inhalation damage can be something that occurs all at once, or the damage accumulates over time with frequent exposures that might go unnoticed until it becomes a major issue.
Wear eye protection.
It takes very little to damage your eyes. Whether it’s a spark, a speck of metal or a speck of chemical, any of these can cause serious damage. However, all of those items and many other incidents can be avoided with protective eyewear.
Learn first aid.
The first moments of an accident are the most important. What you do in the first seconds and minutes can often determine whether an accident causes minimal harm or significant damage. Learning first aid can help you make the right steps of action.
Online vocational training for technician safety.
Tips and advice are great, but to become a truly safe worker and protect yourself from harm requires training. The online technical training from NexTech Academy offers courses in personal safety, safety awareness and workplace safety to give electricians, HVAC technicians and plumbers the knowledge, confidence and smarts needed to work safer and better.
If you’re interested in NexTech Academy, you can get started learning more or call us at (651) 426-2000.