Safety is a top priority for HVAC business owners and service technicians alike. In this industry, something as seemingly innocent as a best practice that wasn’t followed, or a common risk that plays a part in your day-to-day operations. What we’ve done is distinguish the six most hazardous aspects of HVAC services, and outline how to overcome them.
Electrical Wiring and Equipment
Your HVAC technicians are very familiar with electrical work. Disconnecting your equipment from electrical power is a necessary first step before conducting repairs, tests, inspections and other activities. This is a critical part of organizing your HVAC work truck and job site.
How to Overcome Electrical Hazards
- Switch the power off on the respective breaker panel circuit. This eliminates the threat of electrical harm throughout your HVAC system.
- Use tag procedures and lockout practices so that the power isn’t reactivated while you work.
- Use a meter to test the circuit that you’re working on afterward in order to guarantee that the circuit you’re working on isn’t live.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is absolutely essential when working on an HVAC system, no matter the task. Refrigeration burns and electrical harm can be avoided by using an appropriate pair of HVAC work gloves.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
In terms of HVAC services, potential exposure to dangerous chemicals is high on the list of hazards. These chemicals can cause severe burns, including cleaning fluids, refrigerants, solvents and gases. While these are technically classified as safe, once heated they present a significant threat to service technicians. Proper handling and safety precautions with chemicals is so important that clients will feel it when reading your HVAC advertising slogan.
The American Welding Society Recommends the Following for Storing and Handling Hazardous Chemicals
- Avoid rolling or dragging solvent cylinders, and always use a hand truck or cart.
- Secure your protective devices and close all valves completely.
- Properly install guards, caps and other safety measures.
- Protect cylinders from electrical circuits and sources of heat, and keep them sufficiently ventilated.
- Use a strap or chain to secure cylinders in the upright position when, using an appropriate cylinder cart.
Insufficient Inventory of Equipment
The storage, condition, transportation and use of HVAC tools presents certain risks on the job. Ideally, each tool should be inspected and approved based on their condition before each project, or at least on a regular basis. This includes preparing each piece of equipment that you know will be necessary for the specific kind of work your technicians are performing. There are even digital platforms for HVAC field technicians that help you manage all of this and more.
Risks to Respiratory Health
This is easily the most overlooked and dangerous aspect of an HVAC technician’s job. Whether it be a faulty pilot light on a client’s oven or an unchanged air filter, you’re risking exposure to mold, fungus, bacteria, carbon monoxide and more.
Equip yourself with an industrial-grade mask to protect yourself from inhaling these substances on a prolonged basis on the work site. In some cases, a self-contained breathing mask or a cartridge mask may be necessary, especially when working in closed or contaminated spaces.
When you’re dealing with heights, you’re exposed to the risk of falling and subsequent injury. Taking the time to securely place and climb a ladder is highly preferable to dealing with a broken or sprained bone. Consider these best practices when working on a ladder.
- Establish three points of contact at all times. With two arms and two legs, only one of the four should be away from the ladder.
- Maintain at least three feet of clearance from the point of support at the top of the ladder.
- When using an extension, ensure that all locks are firmly in place.
- Use a quarter of the ladder’s length in order to determine placement distance at the bottom of the ladder.
Reckless Driving and Working Habits
This includes but is not limited to the safety of yourself and others while driving in traffic. With all of the potentially hazardous chemicals and electrical equipment in your HVAC truck or van, it’s not worth risking a serious accident in order to make it to a job earlier. This is where recruiting HVAC technicians that are trained, qualified and experienced is so valuable.
Having a professionally trained and responsible HVAC staff is just as important on the job site. Whether it means having the proper training before considering a qualified task or taking the time to do a job right, a little vigilance will prevent a lot of potential injury.