Don't Cut Corners When It Comes to Safety
Safety Precautions for Contractors to Take in Extreme Conditions
Working as a contractor is a dynamic and engaging profession. It provides the opportunity to continuously solve problems, build and provide essential services to businesses and residents. It does, however, also expose you to a number of less-than ideal work environments and safety hazards that require precautions beyond that of a your typical desk job.
Plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians are regularly exposed to hazardous working conditions, which can lead to serious injury and illness. Below, we’ve overviewed a number of ways you and your staff can prepare for extreme work consideration and prevent unfortunate incidents from occurring.
Precautions to Take in Extreme Weather Conditions
As you know, not all services provided by plumbers, electricians or HVAC technicians are performed in the comfort of the indoors. Contracting projects oftentimes must be performed outdoors near power lines, air conditioning units, external pipes and more. And, even those working indoors need to be aware of the hazards extreme weather can pose, too.
Depending on your job function, season and where your business is located, you may experience extreme weather conditions. Some contractors, like HVAC technicians, are more prone to extreme temperatures. While these tips may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many contractors and construction professionals don’t take the proper precautions to ensure their safety in extreme weather conditions.
In extreme heat and sun exposure, take the following precautions:
- Stay hydrated with water or other fluids as you work. If you cannot keep fluids near certain equipment, take regular breaks every 15 minutes to replenish.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Check in regularly on your contracting staff to watch for fainting, overexposure, sun poisoning or heat exhaustion.
- Eat small meals more often throughout your work day.
In extreme cold conditions, take the following precautions:
- Take frequent breaks in a warm, insulated area.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods.
- Work near your other contractors, or check in regularly.
- Wear warm layers and protective clothing to prevent frostbite or windburn.
Precautions to Take in Extreme Working Conditions
Due to irregular, elongated hours, contractors like you are at a high risk for fatigue-related errors. These can lead to oversights and costly mistakes, which may become liabilities for your business.
Depending on which industry your expertise is in, take the following precautions to prevent accidents from occurring as a result of extreme working conditions.
- Take necessary breaks and turn down orders when you are too overworked.
- To minimize burns and electrocution threats, remember to turn the circuit box’s power off.
- Wear the appropriate protective clothing or gear (e.g. gloves, goggles or masks, respirators, etc.) to prevent burns, debris getting into your eyes and illness from asbestos.
- Test wires before touching them yourself to determine if they are still conductive.
- Use reliable ladders when working from heights. To prevent overreaching, consider bringing a coworker to hand you the tools you need safely, and watch for missteps.
- Inspect all equipment, cords and power bars, and electrical fittings for damage before use and use insulated tools to work.
- Use rubber or insulated gloves while working with wires, electrical fittings and power bars to prevent shocks and burns.
- Keep water and other fluids away from all electrical equipment.
- Be aware of aluminum and steel tools, as they can produce an electrical charge when in contact with live wiring.
- To prevent serious injury or illness, you and your team of contractors should regularly update your protective equipment for optimal coverage.
- Consider bringing ear plugs or protective earmuffs specifically made for hearing protection, as plumbing services can become very loud.
- Wear protective clothes and gear (e.g. goggles, gloves, masks, etc.) when working with chemicals, pipes and more.
- Bring a ventilator for mold-infested areas.
- Wear long sleeves and wash hands before and after servicing to prevent infections from mold exposure.
- Remember to turn off the gas line before working along piping.
Insurance Coverages to Protect Your Employees and Your Business
To protect you and your employees in the event of an accident, consider investing in both workers’ compensation coverage, as well as employer liability insurance.
Workers’ compensation provides reimbursement to an injured employee for medical services, medication, transportation to and from the hospital, and wage loss during their time out.
Employer liability insurance protects you and your business from negligence claims by injured employees. In these cases, the injured employee attempts to show that their injury or illness occurred as a result of their employer being negligent, and in turn, seeks reimbursement for medical costs. It’s important to note that some states require businesses with one or more employees to carry employer liability insurance.
To minimize injuries and illnesses from job-related services, you and your employees must make sure all bases are covered. Implement these safety precautions for extreme weather and working conditions into your current safety preparedness programs, and consider investing in reliable insurance coverages.