The HVAC repair and installation industry has been growing at a record pace. Working as a technician or installer in the HVAC industry can be a very rewarding career choice. Every day you have the opportunity to help provide solutions to homeowners and business owners who are experiencing problems with their air conditioning or heating system.
Careers in the HVAC industry certainly have their benefits and advantages, but they also have some risks and drawbacks to look out for. While there are many benefits to be had by working as an HVAC technician, there are also important safety tips that a technician needs to be aware of. This helps everyone maintain a safe working environment for themselves and their team.
One of the major risks and drawbacks of working as an HVAC installer is the hazards that you need to navigate through the duration of your workday. It is for this reason that new HVAC technicians should be aware of the most important safety guidelines that they need to abide by.
1. Wear appropriate safety gear
As an HVAC installer, you will be handling sharp-edged metal and working with electrical wiring throughout the course of your average workday. As a result, you will need to invest in the appropriate safety gear. This is to shield and protect you from common contaminants and other hazards.
Most of the time, this safety gear will be provided for you by your company unless you work for yourself. This is the way your company ensures all of their workers are safe. Maintaining your safety gear and checking for any possible hazards still falls on the HVAC worker.
For example, there may be a freon spill at work that may cause a walking surface to become slippery. The technician would want to be wearing appropriate, non-slip, and preferably steel toe construction boots that are right for the job.
Technicians should also wear standard-issue eyewear to protect their eyes from flying debris. Losing eyesight on an HVAC repair or installation site is one of the worst things that can happen on the job. A pair of properly fitted eyewear will work to protect the wearer from just that.
Most HVAC technicians also carry a respirator. They can use it in the event that the atmosphere around them becomes contaminated with various carcinogens and mutagens. These can cause long-lasting health issues further in their careers.
It’s generally considered good safety etiquette to consult with your HVAC manager. They should be able to provide you with the latest HVAC safety manuals which will detail the specific safety equipment you will need to keep a safe workplace environment.
2. Identify safety risks
Before an HVAC technician begins working on a newly assigned task they should carefully inspect the working area first. While this may take a little longer than just getting straight to work, identifying potential safety risks before the technician begins their work is paramount to a safe and successful workday.
Technicians should take proper notes of the workplace hazards they encounter before they move forward with the task at hand. A standard lined notebook along with a pen or pencil will come in handy for taking notes. Any workplace hazards that the technician identifies should be reported to upper management as soon as possible so safety-minded work can commence.
3. The right tools for the job
The standard HVAC technician will require a specific set of tools to get the job done right. This will ensure everything goes right all while exercising an appropriate level of safety precautions at all times.
Before starting any HVAC job, the technician must always take inventory of the tools that they currently have to work with. This will help them know what tools they need to acquire in order to properly fulfill their daily obligations. It will also ensure they adhering to workplace safety standards.
Commonly found tools of the HVAC trade include a vacuum gauge, clamp meter, wire strippers, anemometer, leak detectors, and wrenches. The technician will use these tools to perform routine maintenance and installs on a brand new HVAC system. Keeping these tools in working order and making sure you have them all with you will help the job go much smoother.
The proper set of tools will help keep you safe from chemical spills and electrocution. An industry-standard screwdriver, for example, will have a handle that is properly insulated to prevent potential electrocution. A proper tool belt to store all of your loose nuts and bolts will help create a trip-free work environment.
4. Educate yourself on electrical and chemical safety
When working on cooling and heating systems, be they residential or commercial, the HVAC technician will constantly come into contact with various electrical components. They will also run into chemicals that are used to operate the equipment being worked on.
While many chemicals can be harmless, some of them can be quite dangerous. Thye should only be approached after taking safety precautions. There are inherent risks that are associated with handling chemicals like detergents, refrigerants (like freon), and solvent solutions. The technician will need to wear proper gear such as eyewear and clothing that will help mitigate the risk of hazardous chemical spills.
One of the biggest reported workplace injuries for HVAC technicians is electrocution. Electrocution can occur when the technician comes into accidental contact with a live wire that they thought was dormant. This is especially true when there are leaks and a live wire nearby that can electrocute the technician by proxy.
To minimize the chances of electric shock, it is recommended that the technician wear clothing that isn’t loosely fitted and is properly insulated. The technician should also remove all jewelry and dangling items.
5. Avoid shortcuts
Taking shortcuts on the job will undoubtedly put the technician at greater risk of a workplace injury. As the old adage goes, “measure twice and cut once”. This especially applies to HVAC technicians who take a safety-first approach to work on a repair or installation site. They will want to double, if not triple check every safety precaution that is on their safety checklist.
Being patient and willing to follow through on all of the safety procedures prior to getting to work will decrease the chances of an on the job injury. That is ultimately one less worker’s compensation claim for the technician’s employer.