Handymen can be exposed to a number of potentially damaging materials on the job. From carcinogens to corrosives to chemicals, it’s important for handymen to be aware of the risks they are taking so that they can take the appropriate precautions.
Below, you’ll find three hazardous materials that handymen should .
For decades, asbestos was commonly used as an insulation material. In the 70s, however, experts became aware of the dangers of asbestos. This material is a carcinogen that can cause serious damage to the lung tissue. The thin, tiny fibers of asbestos can easily be inhaled and can lead to cancer, lung scarring, and pleural effusions.
Experts say that there are no safe levels of asbestos exposure, which is why handymen need to take every possible precaution when working on an older home. It’s best to assume that asbestos is a risk whenever you’re working on a home that was built prior to the 1980s. When working in an environment that potentially contains asbestos, it’s important to wear the appropriate protective equipment. Dust masks aren’t enough to protect against asbestos fibers. It’s necessary to wear a respirator with a class P1 or P2 cartridge. It’s also crucial to wear disposable clothing that can be thrown away after the project has been completed.
Mercury exposure can be a serious risk when working with fluorescent bulbs. Inside these bulbs are glass tubes that contain mercury. Although this mercury is in liquid form, it can easily evaporate at room temperature, which means it can be inhaled. Workers can also be exposed to mercury via skin contact if the proper protective gear is not worn. Mercury inhalation has been linked to a number of health problems and can even be fatal. In addition, mercury is a corrosive material and can cause serious damage when it comes into contact with the skin. It can have toxic effects on the lungs, skin, kidneys, nervous, and immune systems. It can also be damaging to the eyes.
To limit the risks of mercury exposure, handymen should make sure they wear personal protective equipment when working with fluorescent bulbs or other materials that could potentially contain mercury. Wearing gloves and goggles is especially important. It is also smart to wear respiratory equipment so that the risks of inhaling mercury are decreased. As with everything safety related, PPE is one factor but proper awareness/training are just as crucial. There are many online safety courses that cover specific materials such as lead as well as more all encompassing trainings that deal with hazardous waste such OSHA HAZWOPER.
3. Anti-Freeze & Batteries
Although both of these can be grouped into automotive, it’s always worth noting or pointing out both sources. Now you might be thinking, “I’m not a mechanic, why should I worry about these?”. Truth be told, when entering the home or garage of a homeowner, it’s often like opening a can of worms. You won’t know exactly what you are going to encounter. Most people who perform their own car work naturally do it within their garage. Sadly, disposal of these types of hazardous waste materials by homeowners isn’t always up to code. It may sit for an indefinite period of time on someone’s property, or worse, inside of the garage.
That’s why it’s important if you are going to be performing a job in any sort of confined space such as a garage, you know what to expect.
Additional materials to be aware of:
- Paint and paint thinners
- Motor Oil
It’s important to wear protective gear and respiratory masks when working in homes that could potentially contain some of the hazardous materials we’ve covered. Of course you won’t know unless you ask prior to visiting any home or business and this should become part of every job questionnaire.