Whether you run an HVAC business or are a field tech yourself, technician safety must be a central focus in your day-to-day operations to avoid dangerous and costly HVAC accidents.
Danger lurks in some of the most unsuspecting places, and industry professionals should not only adhere to the best HVAC servicing procedures but stay vigilant for common hazards as well.
That’s why we’ve identified the most significant HVAC safety hazards and collected the best HVAC safety standards all in one place.
Must-know Safety Tips for HVAC Technicians
Always Wear the Right Safety Gear
Protective gear has a purpose. While this gear isn’t always comfortable, it is essential to the job. This gear helps protect HVAC technicians against contaminants and other common on-the-job hazards.
Protective clothing can protect the hands, skin, and body from burns, chemicals, and other potential hazards. HVAC technicians must protect their bodies from anything that could lead to injuries.
Hard hats are necessary when technicians are working in areas with low lying beams or potential falling objects. Heavy objects falling on the head can cause severe injuries that hard hats can prevent.
Slip-resistant shoes are one of the most critical pieces of safety gear for HVAC technicians. When leaks occur, floors can become wet and slippery. Without slip-resistant shoes, technicians might slip and fall, leading to severe injuries.
In some cases, work boots might be required to protect the feet from heavy objects falling on top of them. Whatever the situation requires, you should have the proper footwear available for your safety.
Face shields should be worn any time technicians are working with potentially dangerous chemicals and liquids. Respiration masks should also be used when working with unsafe air contaminants.
Earplugs should be used any time that loud equipment is necessary. Safety glasses are another facial safety device that can protect the eyes from flying debris.
Use the Proper Tools and the Right Times
As a professional HVAC technician, you’ll have learned all about the specific tools you’ll need to tackle any job. Some of these tools include clamp meters, wire strippers, a vacuum gauge, various wrenches, an anemometer, and so on.
Leaks are always a threat to HVAC workers. Make sure that your tools of the trade include a leak detector as well.
Knowing how and when to use these tools is essential to keep you and those you serve safe. If you improperly use a tool or opt for the wrong tool at the wrong time, you could cause further damage to a property, injure yourself, or harm those nearby.
As you go about your business, make sure that your tools are always in good working condition. Routine tool maintenance is necessary to detect any defects or damage in your tools and to keep them working as they should.
Proper tool safety will always be a big part of maintaining a safe environment as an HVAC technician.
Be Able to Identify Hazards
Before you ever jump right into a job, take some time to look around you, and make a thorough assessment of the situation. You need to have a clear understanding of the conditions you’ll be working under, and if any risks pose a threat to your safety, and what needs to be repaired.
HVAC professionals that are somewhat new to the profession should take extra care to examine their surroundings before moving forward.
It’s always better to take the extra time to make sure you’re safe and do the job right than to rush it and end up with an injury or additional damage to your hands.
You might even want to consider undergoing some additional electrical safety training if you anticipate working around a lot of electrical equipment. This training should include how to provide rescue efforts in case of an emergency.
Sometimes electrical safety is included in on-the-job training, but it’s a good idea to pursue the training yourself if it isn’t.
Make Sure to Avoid Shock
Since dealing with electrical equipment is par for the course as an HVAC technician, you should take the necessary precautions to minimize any risk of electrocution or electric shock.
Electric shock is most likely to occur when you’re dealing with a water leak within an HVAC system. When water drips down onto electric parts within the system, the risk of equipment failure and shock is high.
The best thing to do to stay safe when working on a system while water is present is to turn off the main circuit breaker ahead of time. This will keep you safe from electrocution and preserve expensive equipment while you work on it.
Avoid Taking Shortcuts
While it’s very important to keep your equipment maintained, wear protective gear, and always survey your environment, none of these efforts will be very effective if you’re always looking for a shortcut.
Sometimes you’ll be faced with a task that will take longer than you anticipated. But taking shortcuts can spell disaster.
As an HVAC technician working with electricity, chemicals, and sometimes extreme temperatures, exercising caution means taking your time. While you might be tempted to rush a repair along, your priority should be safety.
Always follow full procedure and avoid taking shortcuts, no matter how simple the job seems. Being thorough is an important thing to remember on every job for the rest of your career.
Don’t Abandon Your Training.
As you grow in experience and knowledge, there will be times when you’d rather do things your way and toss out the strict guidelines you learned in training.
Of course, the experience is a great teacher, and you’ll be more effective and able as time goes on. However, sticking to the guidelines and methods you were taught in training serves to protect yourself and those you work with.
There will be specific building codes and city regulations that you must adhere to preserve the building’s integrity and prevent damage.
It’s also essential to participate in continuing education to ensure your HVAC knowledge is fresh and current. Continuing education will help keep you marketable and your skills relevant.
Take note of chemicals because you’re more likely than not to be exposed to them. Cleaning liquids, detergents, solvents, and refrigerants, to name a few, can pose serious health risks if mishandled.
There are also cases when some chemicals can explode, causing injury.
So again, wear protective gear – and gloves when handling liquids that can burn your skin. You should also remember safety procedures and proper handling when storing as well as transporting chemicals.
Extra precaution is also needed if you’re a new HVAC technician who lacks in-depth knowledge of the most common HVAC system chemicals.
It is better to be aware of what you’re going up against than regretting later, so you should ask an expert HVAC technician if you’re unsure about a particular chemical before handling/transporting/storing it.
(Ed. Note: New technicians working for an HVAC contractor will ideally be made aware of all safety hazards during orientation and on-the-job training or classroom training.)
Being new to the HVAC system industry, you should know and understand crucial safety guidelines for new technicians for your protection.
Safety Always FIRST
Also, be sure to evaluate each worksite for common HVAC safety hazards. You can often remedy slippery surfaces, fall dangers, and electrical risks before beginning the job.
If you are a technician, make your safety a priority when out in the field. Don’t take shortcuts. And if you notice any gaps in your safety knowledge or training, speak to your supervisor to find an effective solution. HVAC safety training should be a routine practice—it’s never too late to start.
Always put safety first when working with and around heating and cooling systems and tools. Wear protective gear, assess the situation, take note of summer temperatures, and have adequate chemical knowledge.
You will master all these things in time with additional training, help from your seniors and employer, and some resources like this article.