We all know that HVAC equipment production, installation, maintenance and servicing all come with a certain degree of risk, particularly as you think about electrical current, location of equipment, and construction hazards on jobsites. We know they are experienced and know the work well, but we wondered, what scares them? What do they worry about when they go to a jobsite? Our Data Aire service technicians have an average of 20 years of industry experience so if you wanted to know details in the life of a service technician and what their typical day looks like, these are the guys to ask.
Electrical Safety on the Jobsite
It’s not surprising that the number one concern among technicians is electrical hazards. Any technician, be it a factory tech or a tradesman, all know that you’re only as safe as your meter tells you.
More than 99% of builders, maintenance, installers and factory service personnel are experienced, skilled and above all, trustworthy. This is what they do for a living and they do it well. As with everything, there are the exceptions and whether it’s a trainee’s error or an experienced hand simply making a human error, these oversights can be deadly and can even go undetected until someone discovers them. Incorrectly landed wires, loose connections or faulty equipment can all contribute to an accidental release of current. And remember, current at or above 460V can result in an arc flash exposure. There is a specific PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) workers must wear depending on the amount of electrical current available.
Another big concern expressed by our technicians is falls. Data Aire Inc. produces an impressive line of ceiling systems designed to run quietly overhead, out of view and out of the way. We also offer our gPod product line for the indoor agriculture industry that is available in both floor and ceiling systems.
While installing ceiling systems often requires the use of mechanical lifting devices, service and maintenance technicians usually find themselves working on ladders. These technicians have often had to become contortionists, stretching and trying to fit bodies and tools into confined spaces to make repairs. Doing this on a ladder makes it all the more challenging.
Remember that falls from even less than 6 feet can be deadly. Wear your fall protection equipment and it’s always a good idea to have a helper stabilize ladders. Also make sure your ladder is rated for the weight load it will be subjected to.
Another issue raised by technicians is exposure to the elements. Particularly the sun. Roof tops can be hot places and it’ll feel 10 times hotter if you’re exerting yourself.
With the addition and fast growth of indoor agriculture products in our scope of offerings, technicians now find themselves inside buildings where the lighting used to grow plants simulates real sunlight, so it’s now possible to get sunburned inside and outdoors! Dehydration and skin cancers are not uncommon in our industry.
Safety Precautions to Take
- Remember to stay well hydrated and wear sun screen.
- Remember to wear all applicable PPE.
- Make sure your electricity meter has been calibrated at least once per year and then check the equipment for current.
- Check your surroundings and report any potential hazards.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) notes what they call the Fatal Four, meaning the four highest causes of workplace fatalities. The following is from OSHA’s website:
Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 631 workers’ lives in America every year.
- Falls — 384 out of 991 total deaths in construction in CY 2016 (38.7%)
- Struck by Object – 93 (9.4%)
- Electrocutions – 82 (8.3%)
- Caught-in/between* – 72 (7.3%)
(*This category includes construction workers killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material)
Electrical hazards, falls and exposure are just a few of the issues faced by builders, installers, service techs and maintenance personnel face daily. We know there are many more hazards than we’ve discussed here.
So, what scares you? What have you experienced? We’d like to hear from you because sharing these stories can help prevent accidents. Safety really is our #1 priority at Data Aire.