By CHRIS HOLBERT, CEO, SecuraTrac
HVAC technicians can be exposed to countless hazards while on the job. From cramped, hot areas to high ladders and risks such as being electrocuted or suffering abrasions, working in the field requires much caution and attention to detail to do the job well and remain safe.
While most basic training skills usually kick in, it is still important to ensure HVAC techs remember a few key things going into any job. Here are five:
Assess before beginning
Not all jobs are the same, so evaluating the situation before beginning can save you trouble in the long run. Take a few minutes to assess the work area for potential hazards such as slippery surfaces, exposure to dangerous chemicals or wires, temperature changes, etc. Rushing to get into a job to get it done can not only put yourself at risk but can give you more work to do in the end. Inspect the entire area such as cords, equipment, etc. to notice any defects that may be a hazard. By taking a look at what the job requires, you can avoid dangers and will be able to determine what gear you’ll need.
Utilize safety equipment
Suiting up is one of the most important steps before beginning a job. Steel-toed boots, gloves, hard hats, safety goggles, ear plugs, and other necessities should always be worn. Take the few extra minutes to ensure you have on injury preventing gear to keep yourself safe. Be sure to utilize safety technology as well. There are devices on the market that are beneficial to HVAC techs that can detect falls, initiate a call for help, and relay your location information to emergency services if you need it.
The clothes you wear can also be part of your gear. Wear durable clothes that can protect your body from chemical spills, electrical hazards, accidents, and more. You’ll often come into contact with sharp metal edges and ventilation shafts. Don’t just protect the obvious areas of your body (eyes, head, hands) but keep your entire body safe from danger.
Update your gear
Tools are used daily as an HVAC tech, and after constant use, they’re likely to need replacing. Be sure to recognize what tools are worn and which aren’t working as they should be and get them replaced. Not only can this make the job go more smoothly but can also decrease your risk of potential injury. Take the time at the beginning or end of the day to assess the condition of your tools and update them when necessary.
Take your time, don’t take shortcuts
While your end goal might be to move on to the next job, rushing can not only mean you do a botched job and end up having to come back later, but can also put you ask risk. Taking shortcuts can lead to accidents that can put you in a dangerous situation, expose you to chemicals, and get you hurt. Take a few extra minutes to be sure the job is done right and safely – you’ll end up thanking yourself later.
With experience and wisdom often comes ways to save time and still achieve quality work. However, when it comes to safety, sometimes shortcuts are dangerous. Stick to the fundamentals. So, climbing a ladder as you were taught early on, or using a harness when working at higher heights can make a major difference in safety. Following the basics is tried and true.
When working in cramped and hot spaces, or working in freezing conditions for hours, it’s important to recognize when you need to take a step back from the job. Take a minute or two away to cool yourself down (or warm yourself up). Staying hydrated and fueled up throughout the day can ensure you’re in the best physical condition to handle a job. You know yourself best, and if you begin to feel light-headed, over-heated or tired, remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation until you feel better.
Based in Hermosa Beach CA, the author is CEO of SecuraTrac, a developer of mobile safety solutions using location-based technology and state-of-the-art, cloud-based platforms. Founded in 2008, the firm focuses on the needs of seniors and parents, in addition to those of field technicians. For more, click here.