Plumbers get down and dirty every day, doing the jobs that not many of us could. The situations they face are often dangerous to their health and wellbeing, and although they often get a bad rap, they’re the ones people call when things go wrong in their workplaces and homes.
Sometimes we take for granted the luxuries and necessities that we have access to, like clean running water, gas stove cooking and flushable toilets. Think what happens when those necessities stop functioning and chaos ensues, who do we call to fix it and return our lives to harmony? A plumber.
Plumbers specialise in several different areas of maintenance and repair, often risking their life and limbs to get the job done. From repairing hidden water leaks behind walls or under concrete slabs, to installing a new gas hot water service, there are many risks that plumbers face with every job they take on.
Accidents in the workplace are unfortunately common for plumbers, and there are certain things they should know to avoid serious accidents. Here’s just a few:
Falling or Slipping Over
Falling off ladders is a big risk when working as a plumber. Not only does the ladder need to be sturdied on even-ground, but also the rungs can become slippery from water, grease and mud. To prevent falls always check the condition of the ladder, double-check it won’t wobble or sway, and maintain the condition of the rungs.
Always wear good sturdy work boots with extra support and maximum grip on the soles.
Biohazards and Chemical Exposure
Exposure to toxic chemicals and biological hazards is the most common and greatest danger on plumbing jobs. Short, and long-term exposure to either of these can cause serious health concerns and should be taken very seriously.
Asbestos, strong adhesives, hydrochloric acid, grease and inorganic lead can cause a variety of medical problems ranging from skin rashes to long term lung disease and eye problems.
Biohazards are even more common in the form of parasites, mites, mould and bacteria. These can be transmitted to the plumber through skin, eyes and respiratory tract and cause serious illnesses and disease. Sewerage and wastewater must be handled with caution as they carry high levels of harmful bacteria.
Appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) is required on all jobs such as protective goggles/safety glasses, heat proof gloves, long-sleeved shirts and pants, face masks/shields. Exposure is still a risk but is minimised with appropriate workwear.
Exposure to Hot and Cold
Plumbers are often required to enter confined spaces to complete their job, and these spaces can have a drastic change in temperature, be it hot or cold. Entering an area with a significant change in temperature can cause dizziness, fainting, nausea, headaches, heat stroke and illnesses such as pneumonia.
Always ensure appropriate clothing is worn for the job and suited to the climate. Take multiple breaks for water and fresh air and try to keep your exposure to drastically changing temperatures at a minimum where possible.
Burns and Electrocution
Electricity and water can be deadly, so check for loose or frayed wiring to prevent electric shocks and potential fatalities, especially when working with water. Ensure all electrical equipment is regularly tested to meet the safety standards expected.
Burns to the skin, face and eyes are also risks in plumbing and are usually caused by hot water leaking from pipes, water systems and steam lines. Seeking the assistance of a leak detection company like Austest Pipeline Solutions can help with the location of water leaks before they become a danger, without the use of physical exertion and without tearing open walls and floors.
Cuts, Scrapes & Other Common Injuries
Sharp objects, tools and machinery used by plumbers can often cause bodily harm. When working in confined spaces, look around for metal, glass and protruding nails to limit cuts and abrasions. Observe the precautions and dangers before entering any job site and wear sufficient PPE to avoid serious injuries.
It’s not all broken limbs, electrocution, blood and gore though, there are also lesser known, yet more common injuries to be aware of. Most plumbers suffer with repetitive strain injury, spinal problems and torn muscles from incorrect bending and lifting techniques. It is important to always assess the risks associated with any physical task to avoid the danger of musculoskeletal damage, or worse.
Someone’s Got to Do it
Plumbing is a high-risk, dirty job, and one we rely on to keep our cosy lives running smoothly. Plumbers come face to face with many dangers, risks and complications associated with working in the field long-term, and some of them can be fatal.
Be very aware of the environment you’re in, check the condition of your surroundings, and always keep health and safety protocols in place. Keep all power tools up to date with licenced electrical inspections and use extreme caution when working with, or near electricity.
Accident prevention is crucial in the field of plumbing. With so many dangers to face, it is imperative that close attention is paid to the overall safety and well-being of everyone involved on all jobs, big and small.