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7 Safety Hazards That Plumbers Should Be Aware Of

May 24, 2019

When thinking of safety hazards in plumbing, you usually think of slips, trips and falls, dust, and noise. Although these are obvious hazards and risks, there are also plenty of not so obvious hazards which are just as common.
Under sink plumber

Image Source: Pixabay

Here’s a hazard guide for plumbers to ensure you make it home safe and well at the end of the day:

1. Working at Heights

Working at heights is the most common cause of work accidents. Safely working at heights requires certified harnesses and attachment points, regular inspections, and good weather conditions. Alternatively, you could use certified mobile scaffolding, fixed scaffolding, or a cherry picker.

Remember ladders are for short duration work only (under 20 mins).

2. Confined Spaces

Each year, there are many unnecessary deaths from people working in confined spaces. Often there are multiple deaths at the same time. This happens because plumbers are taking risks or have not been trained to enter the confined space safety.

A confined space is an enclosed space that is not intended for humans. They can have harmful atmospheres that don’t have safe oxygen levels. They also tend to have restricted means for entry and exit. Examples include storage tanks, boilers, silos, pits, pipes, sewers, and ducts. It’s important to follow all industry regulations when it comes to working in confined spaces, and make sure you have the required equipment.

So, what do you need to work safely in a confined space?

• Calibrated gas monitors
• O2 testing on a regular basis
• Regular safety gear (helmets, certified footwear, etc.)

3. Manual Handling and Repetition of Movement

Injuries received over time are something that’s often overlooked amongst labourers. Some common injuries from repetition are:

• Muscle sprains and strains
• Back injuries including muscles, ligaments, and discs
• Soft tissue damage (nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck)

To minimise the risk of developing these problems you can ensure the building site is laid out in a way that limits the need to push, pull, or carry equipment/loads, and ensure you’re not exposed to repetitive work for long periods of time.

Pipes in GroundImage Source: Pixabay

4. Diseases Picked Up From Rodents and Contaminated Water

Plumbing work involves crawling under floors and climbing into ceilings where you can find yourself near rodents and hazards, like unblocking drains that are overflowing. There are many diseases plumbers get exposed to when doing this.

You’re exposed to bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould, and parasites from rodents. This can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses like E.Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.

Ensure you’re wearing protective gear and clothing such as face masks and gloves at all times.

5. Stress

Stress is an overlooked danger of being a plumber. Owning your own business, working to deadlines that are unrealistic, or doing shift work with extended hours can all lead to workplace stress.

Stress can refer to the demands that people face at work or at home and can result in fatigue and health problems.

Fatigue can affect you physically, mentally, or emotionally. Being tired or exhausted at work can lead to an unsafe environment where mistakes are made.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and the two are intrinsically linked. If you’re struggling with stress, seek help for stress management, consider cutting down your hours, and get some rest.

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6. Eye Injuries

You can’t be a blind plumber. Millions of people lose or damage their eyesight from injury each year, and most of these injuries are preventable. Plumbers face many eye hazards including foreign objects and exposure to bacteria.

When working, wear safety glasses at all times. They don’t cost much, and they can protect you from a lifetime of preventable damage.

7. Asbestos

Globally, 125 million people are being exposed to asbestos in their workplace, and asbestos is deadly. It is a leading cause of respiratory deaths.

Plumbers are exposed to this more than most, often working in houses with an unknown building history. If you think you’re being exposed to asbestos, ask homeowners if the building has used asbestos in the past, and consult an endorsed asbestos specialist immediately to ensure your working conditions are safe. They will know how to safely and legally remove it from your site.

Content has been provided by Johanna Cider – Johanna Cider is a Kiwi wordsmith from Wellington, New Zealand, with experience writing about business, home, and lifestyle topics. She has produced content for various blogs and hospitality sites such as Harrows. Visit Johanna’s Tumblr page to know more about her.
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