Plumbing Safety: Common Job-Site Hazards & Control Measures
What To Know About Plumbing Safety On The Job
Many people think of plumbing as a relatively safe job. However, like all construction trades, it comes with its share of on-site dangers. Plumbing contractors are exposed on a daily basis to hazards that range from slips and falls in wet environments to flammable gas and sewage-related diseases. It’s important for your entire crew to be aware of these hazards and take appropriate precautions.
Plumbing Safety Hazards
General Onsite Construction Dangers
There are a number of dangers that plumbers are exposed to simply from working on a residential construction site. All trades share potential exposure to these hazards:
- Slips, trips and falls — Wet floors and working at heights on ladders or scaffolding cause accidents every year.
- Working in awkward or confined spaces or in awkward positions — Can cause injuries, especially to muscles. Plumbers often also work in trenches, and cave-ins can cause serious injury.
- Operating tools — Improperly used, both hand tools and power tools can cause minor or major injuries, from bruises and abrasions to amputations.
- Lifting heavy objects — Can cause strain injuries to backs, arms, etc.
- Loud noises — Construction sites are noisy and, without protection, can cause hearing loss.
- Exposure to hazardous substances — Lead, asbestos, mold, adhesives, solvents, silica, dust, etc. can be present on construction sites
- Flying particles — Can injure unprotected eyes.
Flammable Materials & Electricity
Plumbers constantly work with and around electrical appliances and wiring. They also use plumber’s torches, which can be hazardous around flammable and combustible materials. Personal burns and/or property fires are potential dangers when your technicians are working around any flammable materials, gas lines, steam or hot water pipes, electrical wiring or appliances (especially near water) and welding equipment.
Exposure To Biohazards & Sewage
Plumbers are uniquely at risk when working on sewage pipes or septic tanks. Exposure to raw sewage or contaminated soil means exposure to biohazards that include bacteria, viruses, funguses and parasites. These can cause a range of infections. The diseases considered by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to be related to exposure to sewage or sewage-contaminated water include:
- Campylobacteriosis (the most common diarrheal disease in the U.S.)
- E. coli
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid fever
Safety Procedures & Control Measures
Clearly, safety information and procedures are important for protecting the health and safety of your crew. Your company should set safety rules and procedures and offer training for workers. It’s also a good idea to have a safety checklist for workers to fill out on the job site. This serves to remind them to be alert and cautious and to verify that all safety measures are being followed properly.
Your workers should be wearing personal protective equipment, including eye protection, hard hats, waterproof gloves and rubber boots whenever they are on site. When working on hot pipes, heat-insulating gloves and eye/face shields are necessary. All PPE should be carefully selected for the task and well-maintained.
Workers in awkward positions should take breaks or rotate their tasks. They should know safe lifting techniques and safety procedures for working at heights. They should be using power tools that are safe for a wet environment. All workers should be informed about any known hazards at the job sites to which they are assigned. If they will be working around hazardous substances, they should be trained on specific safety practices for those chemicals. They should also know how to report any new hazards that are discovered.
It’s important to keep the site as clear of hazards as possible. Keep work areas clear of clutter and equipment. Store construction materials where they will not cause accidents. Keep tools and equipment in safe working order. Clean up spills and discard flammable waste materials safely. Maintain good ventilation.
Working Safely with Sewage
Pathogens from sewage generally enter the body through the nose, mouth or open wounds. When working around waste or sewage, workers should always:
- Avoid exposure as much as possible by wearing gloves, coveralls, rubber boots and eye protection.
- Wash hands with soap and water before eating, drinking or using the restroom and when work is done.
- Avoid touching the face.
- Bandage or cover all wounds.
- Eat and drink away from contaminated areas.
- Change out of work clothes before leaving the site; bag and launder (disinfect) these items separately from other clothing.
Residential Plumbing Contractors Need The Right Software
SupplyPro GM is cloud-based construction software that enables you to manage residential projects from work order creation through approvals and payments, with visibility, consistency and efficiency. Feature-rich and built for mobility, this effective contractor and supplier software gives you real-time information and control in every part of your business, so you can increase productivity, profits and client satisfaction.
One of the features of SupplyPro GM is a customizable safety checklist to help keep your crews safe and healthy and protect your company financially in case of accidents.
Learn more about how SupplyPro GM can help you manage your Plumbing business more effectively or schedule a demo today.