9 Hazards Plumbers Should Be Aware Of

Here’s a look at some of the most-common dangers plumbers can find on the job site

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Even with the best safety planning, there are a lot of hazards on a plumbing job site and accidents do happen. A key part of preventing accidents is simply being aware of the potential dangers. Here’s a look at some of the most-common hazards plumbers face.

1. Working at High Heights

The most common cause of workplace accidents is working at higher heights. Safely working above ground requires attachment points, certified harnesses, good weather conditions, and regular inspections.

Fixed scaffolding, a cherry picker or certified mobile scaffolding can also help to support a plumber working at a higher location. Using a ladder can be mistake as this is intended for short-duration work only. Furthermore, anyone at a high height can slip and fall or be struck by a falling object above them. Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of workplace injuries.

Even when safety tools and tips are used, falls can still happen. Even being just a few feet off the ground is an accident risk.

2. Confined Spaces

Unfortunately, fatal injuries may happen to plumbers who are working in confined spaces. Closed spaces that are not intended for safe oxygen levels, such as boilers, storage tanks, sewers, pipes, ducts and pits can all present unique challenges in terms of breathing. Serious medical conditions may result for a plumber who is exposed to these problems.

3. Repetitive Movement

Repetitive motion injuries are those that affect a worker who is doing the same thing on a regular basis. These injuries develop over time and can be notoriously difficult to identify. They are often overlooked among laborers, including plumbers. Some of the most common types of repetitive stress injury include:

  • Soft tissue damage to the shoulders, neck and wrists
  • Back injuries affecting ligaments, muscles and disks
  • Muscle strains and sprains

The building site in which you are working should be laid out in a way that minimizes having to pull, push, or carry loads and equipment. Repetitive work should be avoided for long periods of time to minimize the chances of a repetitive stress injury.

4. Eye Injuries

Many injuries affecting a plumber's eyesight can be completely avoided as they are preventable. Exposure to bacteria and foreign objects are some of the eye hazards affecting plumbers. Wearing safety glasses at all times can minimize the risk of exposure and preventable damage.

5. Asbestos

Unfortunately, around the world more than a 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in their workplace. It is the No. 1 cause of respiratory death. Plumbers are often exposed to asbestos more than others because they are working in places with an unknown history.

If you believe that you may be exposed to asbestos, you need to ask the property owners whether or not the building has used asbestos in the past. This is the best way to avoid inhaling these dangerous fibers that can eventually cause mesothelioma.

While many newer buildings will not have any asbestos materials inside, it’s impossible to be sure with an older location that no asbestos-containing materials were ever used. Exposure to asbestos builds up over time and can lead to life-threatening conditions for which there are no cures.

6. Hearing Loss

The World Health Organization's protection report shows that up to 48 percent of plumbers have reported hearing loss due to banging tools, noisy pipes, and electronic machinery. This can lead to hearing damage that affects you on and off the job.

7. Extreme Temperature Injuries

In many locations across the country, extreme conditions have to be braved by plumbers when pipes are frozen or when it is extremely hot. This increases the chance of severe injuries.

Having to work outside when it’s extremely cold or very hot should lead to further safety precautions.

8. Hand Tool Injuries

Many tools of the plumbing trade have become more powerful over the past several decades, but they also present unique risks to users, particularly if the product is defective. Hand tool injuries can include broken bones, fractures, cuts and more.

9. Mold

A homeowner's worst fear is a mold infestation, but it might not register in the mind of a plumber until they identify it. Mold can be found in paneling, bathrooms, and under sinks. A plumber may be working directly in a location affected by mold.

Being mindful of these risks and taking necessary steps to avoid coming into contact with these challenges is extremely worthwhile for any plumber. 

About the Author
Eric J. Purchase is a personal injury attorney based in Erie, Pennsylvania. Visit www.yourerielawyers.com.


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