HVAC Safety – How to Avoid Accidents
The technology associated with HVAC systems requires that knowledgeable, experienced personnel well-trained in how to avoid the hazards that accompany working in the HVAC field stay on top of minimizing risks.
Similar to our common plumbing mistakes article, listed below are some HVAC safety risks associated with installing or maintaining an HVAC system. Included are ideas on how to evaluate each risk with respect to your own operations.
It is important to have a background that includes a basic understanding of working with electrical equipment. Becoming complacent is one thing; not having a basic understanding of how to pick up and work with an electrical cable or wire is another. It is essential to always treat wire as though it were live so that you pay it the respect it deserves.
The size, weight and complexity of most HVAC systems are themselves risks if personnel handling the systems have not been properly trained. Knowing how to move systems from place to place and being aware of components with sharp edges to avoid cuts, punctures, and scrapes needs to be part of personnel training.
Environmental/Chemical Exposure Risks
Refrigerants used in these systems, especially the larger, older ones can expose personnel and homeowners to dangerous chemicals. This is so particularly if the system has developed leaks. Some of the older systems especially in older facilities were wrapped in asbestos which should be identified prior to removal of the old system so that it can be properly contained and removed.
Fatigue and/or complacently magnify all risks listed by increasing the chances of making a critical error because someone on the installation team is tired or not paying attention. It is important that HVAC installation teams are never worked to the point of exhaustion. Schedules and deadlines need to consider the health and welfare of their installers so that fatigue-related errors don’t occur. Complacency can be addressed by continuing education that periodically reminds installers of the dangers inherent in not paying attention. This includes adhering to standard HVAC safety procedures like properly securing tools when working at heights or removing an interlock. One person on the team being tired or sloppy can result in disaster.
Burns and Related Injury Risks
Performing routine or emergency maintenance needs to be done on a system that has been allowed to cool off. The larger the system being repaired the greater the risk that some of the components that operate at higher temperatures have not been allowed to cool off properly. It is therefore very important that an HVAC system be allowed to cool off properly before maintenance or repair is attempted. Doing so ensures that personnel are not burned or otherwise injured.
Falls and Related Injuries
When a team is installing or removing larger HVAC units the use of third-party cranes and equipment is often in play. When this is the case everyone involved needs to pay special attention to the risks involved with working at heights and moving multi-ton system components. This requires periodic training updates on HVAC safety procedures so that everyone involved knows what to do.
It is important to ensure HVAC safety for your installation teams by ensuring that every member of your team is trained to know what the risks are and how to properly avoid or manage them. The best way to have a successful HVAC business that delivers on time and within budget is to pay attention to HVAC safety and never compromise it. Schedules are important and so is budget but never at the expense of risking severe or fatal injuries.