Risks in Maintenance Plumbing

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Plumbing is one of the most commonly demanded technical jobs across the globe. Plumbing services are essential during the initial house construction phase where plumbers are required to install pipes and pipework fittings. Maintenance plumbing work is also essential in helping maintain a house’s plumbing connections in pristine working condition. Plumbers, however, do face certain risks in the course of the discharge of their responsibilities. Failure to observe plumbing safety measures in regard to these workplace threats to safety can lead to serious injuries. Here are some of the major risks that plumbers face during maintenance plumbing work.

  1. Working in confined spaces

In most cases, house plumbing work is confined to a limited space which is sometimes hard to reach. To discharge their responsibilities, they have to squeeze themselves into those tiny spaces in order to access and repair the faulty pipework. The confined spaces come with additional risks such as the threat of straining the body muscles and dislocating body joints.

The tiny spaces also greatly limit the working space that the plumbers have, therefore forcing them to maneuver their tools within a tiny area. This increases the risk of further accidents such as cutting or bruising themselves with their working tools. The confined spaces also pose additional risks including lack of sufficient aeration, thereby increasing the prospects of suffocation.

  1. Working in great heights

Sometimes, plumbers are required to access pipework installed on the exterior wall of a skyscraper building. Working from such great heights while juggling different tools to repair faulty pipes exposes the plumbers to the significant risk of slipping and falling. To achieve some level of safety at such heights, the plumbers have to secure themselves using safety harnesses or scaffolding and lifts. Besides the safety measures that the plumbers put in place, the imminent threat of falling is normally high.

  1. Exposure to scalding accidents

Sometimes, plumbers have to deal with unconventional risks, especially when working on pipes that carry hot water. In places such as the Conrad Martens service area  where the demand and supply of high-temperature water plumbing services are high, plumbers have to beware of risks such as coming in contact with hot water which leads to scalding burns

  1. Exposure to toxic chemicals

Plumbers normally use chemical sealants to join together pipes. They also often need to warm and soften plastic pipes in order to create a strong and durable joint when repairing broken pipes. In such cases, the toxic chemicals used increases the risk of suffering internal and external body injuries. Inhaling the toxic chemical fumes released from PVC primers and glues used to layer the surface of pipes being joined can cause lung diseases in the long run.

In other instances, plumbers may use different chemical solvents when draining pipes to clear clogs. Exposure to such chemicals may lead to skin burns and other risks caused by ingestion. In addition, depending on their working environments during maintenance work, plumbers may come across water contaminated with significant amounts of asbestos and other chemical water pollutants. This is often the case when plumbers have to get inside large storage tanks for cleaning purposes. Progressive exposure to asbestos has detrimental health effects in the long term.

  1. Exposure to mold

Mold often accumulates on the surfaces of pipes enclosed in hot and humid environments. Whenever plumbers get inside those tiny spaces to clear plumbing issues, they are exposed to the significant risk of ingesting or coming in contact with toxic mold. Sometimes, the risk of exposure to mold may be even in open spaces such as in the bathroom when repairing sinks and bathtubs. Depending on the mold type that the plumber gets exposed to, and the quantities of such exposure, plumbers may face adverse effects and side effects, including respiratory problems, allergies, and digestion system poisoning.

  1. Physical injuries

The tools that plumbers often use at work may cause additional risks to their health. In the course of undertaking repair work in cramped spaces, plumbers may make a mistake and misjudge their moves, leading to physical cuts and bruises which cause bleeding and swelling. This risk is even exponentially increased when plumbers work in confined spaces that are poorly lit. Bruising and cutting oneself during plumbing work increases the risk of causing additional health issues, especially in cases where the bruises and cuts come in contact with toxic substances such as plumbing chemicals, asbestos-contaminated water, and mold.

  1. Exposure to noise

Despite working under confined conditions, plumbers have to use noisy equipment. The confined environment implies that such noise is greatly amplified through echo, leading to the imminent threat of development of hearing problems. Such noise can also cause additional health issues such as headaches. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, it has been reported that 48% of all plumbers report hearing challenges due to the banging of tools and use of machinery with moving parts.

  1. Slip and fall accidents

Plumbers working in houses with slippery floors such as bathrooms often face the risk of slipping and falling. Such accidents are common in situations where the floor gets drenched with water, thereby making walking on the surface quite risky. In addition, working on spaces that are poorly accessible such as along the walls of a house exponentially increases the risk of slipping and falling due to a poor grip of the surface. The injury sustained during such slip and fall accident is quite high and can lead to permanent disability, dislocation of joints, and broken bones.

  1. Repetitive strain injuries

Sometimes, plumbers have to sit or lie in a given position for a relatively long duration of time, especially when dealing with a complex repair issue. In such cases, the risk of suffering repetitive strain injury is normally exponentially high. Positions such as squatting, working with hands high above the head, and tilting the head to maneuver through pipes among other body-constraining positions can lead to significant health issues in the long term. Plumbers, therefore, have to beware of every possible risk that they may come across in the course of discharge of their responsibilities in plumbing maintenance work.

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