People who don’t know a plumber might not guess it can be a dangerous job. Some of the most common injuries plumbers sustain are hazards inherent to the job they do, but some are preventable.
Before you visit your next job site, consider six of the most common dangers.
Pipes and other plumbing features aren’t out in the open, after all. Plumbers frequently have to work behind walls and in crawlspaces. Add in the low oxygen and toxicity of material that runs through pipes (sewage, for instance), and the risk of illness is very real. Working in tight spaces can also increase the risk of injury from having to maintain a certain posture and keep tools close to the body.
Like most contractors, there is the potential for lots of substances and objects to fly at your eyes. Sewer bacteria, sparks, steam, and more can be a risk on any given day. It’s a good idea to buy plumbing insurance online, but such injuries are a key reason why every plumber should be wearing safety glasses at work.
This one surprises a lot of people new to the industry. A lot of equipment essential to the job can be very loud, and over time, this adds up to hearing loss which can be treated with the use of digital hearing aids. In fact, nearly half of all plumbers feel that they’ve sacrificed some hearing capacity for their career. Ear plugs can help with this, but some understandably worry that this can decrease situational awareness.
Tools and materials (think heavy pipes) can be burdensome for a plumber’s back. So much so that a study conducted over the course of 15 years found that the majority of non-fatal plumbing injuries were sustained through having to lift heavy objects. Like other common injuries, a lot of problems related to this are created over time.
Asbestos and mold
Pull back the façade of any building and there’s no telling what you’ll find beneath. Unfortunately, plumbers are usually the professionals who discover and identify mold and asbestos in the first place. Asbestos is notoriously the cause of mesothelioma, while mold exposure can result in a range of respiratory problems.
Any type of special labor, from restaurant serving to manufacturing, requires us to make the same movements utilizing the same bones and muscles over and over again. Plumbers are no exception, as they reach for and use tools in the same manner daily.
The trouble with repetitive motion injuries is that they can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. In the meantime, we have to keep doing the work that ends up hurting us. Reconfiguring your work space and making things easier to reach, when possible, can help.
Don’t be fooled – plumbing can be a very dangerous job, even more so than other kinds of contracting jobs. When we wear safety gear and more carefully consider how to navigate tight spaces and work areas, many injuries can be prevented. But every plumber should always bear in mind the long-term consequences of small actions.