From the outside, plumbing doesn’t seem like an overly dangerous job. They lay pipes, fix leaks, and install toilets, right? The truth is that there can be much more on a plumber’s to-do list than you might think, and many of the jobs they encounter can be incredibly hazardous.
If you’re considering plumbing as a career or want to understand more about their everyday work, it’s worth being aware of the following workplace hazards:
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Musculoskeletal injuries are common in the industry. Plumbers are often required to work in awkward positions and small spaces while carrying and lifting heavy objects.
Injuries can be avoided through health and safety protocols, proper lifting techniques, and general fitness. However, they can still happen when you least expect them, which is one of many reasons why plumbers workers compensation insurance is so vital.
Hearing Loss and Damage
Most tradespeople now understand the importance of hearing protection. However, many plumbers must still bang tools, work with noisy pipes, and operate loud machines to cover client needs. Long-term exposure to these loud sounds might still result in permanent damage or complete hearing loss.
Plumbing is often located in parts of a building that aren’t frequently inhabited by people, like ceiling cavities and under the floor. These areas can also be where biohazards are present. Plumbers face a genuine risk of illness when exposed to raw sewage, soil, and animal droppings. There’s even a risk of diseases like psittacosis, hantavirus, and histoplasmosis from bird, bat, and rodent droppings.
Burns and Electrocution
Water and electricity don’t mix, and plumbers put themselves in danger daily when working in areas with water, electricity, and gas supplies. Sometimes, pipes can be incorrectly identified or labeled, leading to cuts and alterations to the wrong pipes.
When this happens, plumbers are at risk of being electrocuted from exposure to bare wires. They might even experience burns if they accidentally cut a gas pipe.
Many plumbing-related tasks can be related to leaks. Where there’s a leak, there’s often mold, which can be hazardous to health. Being near it can put plumbers at risk of itchy skin, red and itchy eyes, upper respiratory tract symptoms like wheezing, and even allergic reactions.
Most countries have now stopped using hazardous chemicals and materials (such as asbestos and lead) in their building supplies. Unfortunately, such materials are still lurking in many older buildings. Plumbers encounter these dangerous materials daily, putting themselves at risk if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Breathing in asbestos fibers can lead to life-threatening illnesses later in life, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. Lead can also be of particular concern, sometimes resulting in lead poisoning with outcomes like high blood pressure and brain, kidney, and reproductive organ complications.script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js">
Many plumbers work long hours. When not attending callouts throughout their average working week, they deal with frantic calls from desperate homeowners outside regular office hours. The stress of long working hours can take its toll, and many plumbers find themselves burnt out and overwhelmed.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce stress levels as a plumber, such as reducing hours, sharing the load with other plumbers, and trying stress-relieving techniques like mindfulness, a healthy diet, and exercise.
Every job has its dangers, but there’s no denying that plumbers often face more than others. By being aware of the most common workplace hazards faced by plumbers in 2023, you might be in a better position to avoid them yourself.