7 Risk Management Tips For Plumbers

Managing Risks As A Plumber

While plumbing isn't exactly at the top of the list of the riskiest careers, it does come with some risks for those who rush into things and work without thinking. There's an excellent reason plumbers have to spend time learning as an apprentice. Depending on your job, you may deal with power tools, raw sewage, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, combustible materials, and other health risks. In addition to these more unusual risks, mundane stuff can pose a threat. Even hot water could be dangerous. However, once you understand these health hazards and take the proper precautions, you can lower the potential risk of accidents to almost zero.

1. Ensure You Have The Right Equipment

This might seem basic, but it's one of the most essential risk management tips for plumbers. Plumbers have plenty of equipment, and it's easy for someone in a rush to forget what they need. Using the wrong wrench in the wrong situation can damage a pipe, cause a leak, or do one of many other catastrophic things. This worsens the problem; depending on what you're working with, you could expose yourself and others to toxic chemicals.

While some of the equipment you'll need to carry with you is specialized for plumbing, such as a pipe wrench, many other recommendations, such as a flashlight and plyers, are everyday objects used by people in various professions. Suppose you're unsure whether to bring a tool; the adage "it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it" works well if you've been recommended several different types of wrenches, pipe-cutting or fixing tools for different situations. In that case, it's best to take as many of them as you can. It’s also a good piece of advice to ensure that your tools are kept in good working order. This usually means ensuring that they are used carefully, taking the time to maintain them, and replacing them when they’ve finally worn out.

Below is a list of common tools that plumbers may require while on the job. This list does not include everything you need, and each job is different, so it is important to check your toolbox before leaving for your next job.:

  • Tubing Cutter
  • Mole Grips
  • Plumbing Torch
  • Thread Sealing Tape
  • Plyers
  • Press Fitting Systems
  • A Flashlight
  • Pipe, Basin, Faucet, and Torque Wrenches
  • Plunger
  • Snake Machine

2. Protect Yourself With Plumbers Insurance

You can get a lot of freedom in your career by starting your own plumbing business. This freedom, however, is something that you can only get by sacrificing security. If you start your own plumbing business, you replace solid, dependable, regular wages and maybe corporate benefits with a bottom line you are responsible for. While running your own plumbing service has the potential to increase your income if you do well and lets you be the one who sets things like the rules and hours, there are downsides to keep in mind. Business owners, especially those who operate smaller businesses, put themselves at significant legal and financial risks, as a single job gone wrong could ruin not just your business but your livelihood as a whole.

Luckily, whether it's an unexpected accident caused to a client or legal fees that one of your employees exposed you to, plumbers insurance is there to help. This is designed to give you peace of mind, knowing that you can save your business in a disaster beyond your control. Many risks business owners, including plumbers, take is the possible damage to the expensive equipment that would be pricey to maintain. It also protects you if you, through no fault of your own, cause property damage to your client's building goods. Plumbers Insurance will allow your business to survive many incidents that could otherwise do some real damage. It also opens up a wide variety of possible job options, as an insured plumber is much more appealing to many clients than one without the needed protection.

3. Ensure You're Using The Proper Personal Protective Equipment

While the entrepreneurial risks of the trade are very real and certainly worth protecting yourself from, you also need to take proper safety precautions as a plumber. Spending time using specialized equipment and potentially around so many chemicals beyond everyday use can be very dangerous, especially for someone who doesn't have the proper training. There's a good reason that the average person doesn't start fiddling around with their own drainage system to fix every problem.

Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE for short, is something many people take for granted. However, it could save you from a significant injury or even death. Below is a list of some popular PPE that every plumber should wear while on the job.

  • Eye protection, such as safety glasses to prevent eye injuries
  • A facemask to stop you from breathing in dust, mold or something similar
  • Skid-proof boots to lower the chances of a slip and fall
  • A hardhat to protect you from falling debris
  • Knee and back braces to lower the damage done by staying in awkward positions
  • Ear plugs to protect your from hearing loss
  • Heavy gloves to protect your hands
  • Long sleeves to keep your arms safe from scratches and burns

Please note, however, that, like with the tools list above, this list is not exhaustive. If you were told in your training or by another plumber that you need a piece of equipment that isn’t listed here or can intuitively feel that you need something, it is recommended that you get the equipment that you need.

4. Prevent Slips, Trips And Falls

As mentioned earlier, the proper boots can lower the risks of slipping. However, this will only reduce the risks, and only for you. At the risk of sounding like your mother, I'm going to give out some simple instructions --- clean up! One of the most critical risk management tips for plumbers is to ensure the area around you is tidy. Ensure that all the tools you're putting down temporarily aren't endangering you or anyone else by being placed in the middle of the floor. It's best that you safely store away all tools currently not in use. This is extra true for sharp, heavy tools or shooting out anything dangerous, such as a plumber's torch. This is because these items can be extra dangerous, especially for children who might think it's a toy. Doing so will lower the odds of both yourself and others taking a troublesome tumble while traversing through the terrain.

However, leaving your tools scattered around is one of many frequent trip hazards that plumbers face. Due to the job's nature, there will be plenty of puddles and other wet spots around. You can minimize the chances of a slip and fall if you regularly mop up any wet spots on the ground around you or at least put up wet floor signs to warn others. These precautions not only reduce the risk of an accident happening to you, but they also lower the risk of someone else falling and blaming you for their fall.

5. Keep In Mind Elevation Risks

Not all plumbing jobs happen on even ground, especially when dealing with construction. Sometimes, you'll be working from up high, which could lead to a fall. This is even more dangerous than a trip since a spill from five stories will do a lot more damage to you than five feet. Thusly, it is essential to follow all safety protocols involved with where you are. Whether it's keeping far away from edges, wearing a safety harness, or using any other specialized equipment designed to prevent you from going for a life-changing ride, you must follow all safety precautions associated with your location. Ensure you understand all the risks of any elevated area you work from and obey all safety precautions relevant to your current location. If your client or any other plumber advises you on handling the elevated area you are currently in, it's best to err on the side of caution and follow it.

On the other hand, simply working in an environment with elevated areas can provide risks. As mentioned earlier, a hardhat will provide some protection, but it's still best to be aware of any other dangers associated with being below possible falling objects.

6. Avoid Repetitive Movements

Workplace injuries are often associated with sudden, traumatic accidents that can turn someone's life around in seconds. While these types of injuries are a huge factor, and are even the focus of the majority of this article, they aren't the only way you can get hurt. One of the most overlooked risk management tips for plumbers is taking steps to avoid some of the more mundane injuries that can happen to you on the job. Things like a strained back, muscle sprains, ligament damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, musculoskeletal injuries and more are usually the result of repeating an awkward moment numerous times a day for years and years. While these movements are often inevitable, placing yourself in a less awkward position or taking brief breaks whenever possible should help you manage these risks and reduce the chances of an annoying injury sneaking up on you.

7. Keep Out Unwanted Pests

Oh, rats, there's some unidentified rodent running around the area. Whether it's ants, mice, wasps, spiders or whatever that large thing that looks like a mouse mentioned earlier, these pests can be a real danger to you while you're working. Depending on what type of creature you're dealing with, they can spread diseases, bite you, leave droppings, smell bad, sting you, and even cause an allergic reaction from some individuals. While sometimes the presence of these annoying creatures is the fault of the client, there are things you can do to reduce or even outright prevent little critters like these from entering the area.

Firstly, and most obviously, keep food from lying around for any small creature to grab and alert all his friends as well. Some leaks or breaks you might work on throughout your career can attract certain critters to your work area. A piece of advice for this would be that if you have multiple problems to fix, if any of these problems are the reason the creatures are around, taking care of that problem could also fix it. In a worst-case scenario, keeping a few traps in your vehicle, just in case, ready to use can also be a great help. If you do go down this route, however, you should get your client's permission before bringing such devices onto their property.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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