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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Plumbing - Why PPE will help prevent a serious injury

Maralyn Kastel - Friday, August 02, 2013

Plumbing in Australia is one of the highest risk industries and there have been a number of serious and fatal incidents in this area (plumbing excavation work) in the last two months according to the Master Plumbers Association.

As an operational and legal requirement to working safely, it is important to regularly examine all the tasks to be completed to complying with work health & safety requirements – so as part of your routine risk management, you must:

  • identify the hazards
  • assess the risk of accident or incident
  • identify and implement risk controls
  • review the risk controls to make sure they are effective

Many accidents and injuries happen because workers:

  • take shortcuts to save time
  • are complacent (I know how to do this)
  • forget to do something
  • do something they should not be doing
  • ignore a "near miss or near hit"

In examining just one small area of work health and safety in the plumbing industry, using PPE is often an issue.  So here’s a reminder of why personal protective equipment is something to discuss with all workers.

Hand and eye protection
Hands are going to be exposed to hazardous and toxic chemicals occasionally. Keeping latex gloves on while working in these areas is imperative to prevent any chance of accidentally rubbing eyes or nose after being exposed to hazardous chemicals.

The same applies to general germs when working on drains. In this case, it's best to wear a heavier pair of gloves under the latex gloves reduce the risk of contamination or transfer of germs.

With possible toxins in water, a small drop splashed in an eye can be very serious. The same can be said of foreign objects falling into the eyes while working under sinks. Wearing safety glasses to protect the eyes is an important protection to protect eyesight.

Wearing a particle mask
During the process of cutting pipe, particles can get in the air and cause major health risks. In some cases, those particles become toxic when there's insulation around the plumbing area, so always wear the correct particle mask.

Other areas to help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries include:

Don't put tools in an upper pocket
It might be tempting to keep a sharp-edged tool in a shirt pocket for easy access during a plumbing project. But it's not a good idea because the tool can potentially cause an eye injury when crouching in tight spaces. Tool belts are essential to can gain access to tools and they are a safe distance from the eyes.

Being fit for work
Serious mistakes causing personal injury or extensive damage while working with pipes and heavy-duty equipment occur if workers are not “fit for work” or are working while being fatigued.  

Protect your back and take regular breaks
If workers are crouched in the same position for many hours it can create a potentially risk for a serious back or neck injury. Maintaining a straight back when working and making sure equipment is lifted properly will help reduce the potential for muscle injuries and back strains.

Breaks about every half hour are appropriate to reduce the risk of repetitive movements or cramped positions causing musculoskeletal injuries and long term health issues.

If you need more safety information contact us  or buy the latest plumbing safety bundle as a download of the most up to date forms. For a comprehensive work health and safety management system covering all areas of compliance so you can be up to date with necessary protections for your workers then consider our Simply Genius™ Work Health and Safety Management System. 

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