While there isn’t a way to guarantee safety, you can take steps to ensure everyone on a worksite is well-equipped to anticipate, avoid and react to any hazards or dangerous events that occur.
If you’re considering starting your own HVAC business, creating an HVAC safety checklist is one of the important first steps. In this article, we’ll cover what safety hazards you need to consider, the process of ensuring a safe workplace and how to develop an HVAC safety checklist.
HVAC Safety Hazards
HVAC tradies often work in cramped, hard-to-access places, dealing with hazardous chemicals, electrical systems, and respiratory dangers. If you’re starting in HVAC or an experienced tradie, you’ll already be aware of some of these hazards, but it’s good to have a comprehensive list and awareness of the different safety risks you can encounter.
Some of these risks include:
-Chemical: exposure, burns, inhalation, improper storage
-Electrical: equipment and electrocution
-Confined Spaces: injury, temperature, impaired movement
-Respiratory Hazards: dust, debris, materials, chemicals
-Heights/Ladders: falls, improper use
-Dangerous Driving: accidents, fatigue
-Machinery: damage, injury, improper use
-Health: mental health, colds/flu, strains/injuries
-Conduct: team members not taking safety seriously
As you can see, the list is extensive, and each point can be expanded upon. We’ll talk about how to incorporate them into your HVAC safety checklist below.
HVAC Safety Checklist
All workplaces will have their safety risks and hazards; it’s part of every job. The important part is to identify what hazards come with what workplaces- and what you need to put on an HVAC safety checklist. Office workers will have their safety awareness training on emergency evacuations and the effects of a sedentary workplace: an HVAC list is going to be far more extensive!
When creating your HVAC safety checklist, include all the above points, even if they don’t seem relevant to certain jobs. The important part is to have the sections prepared and review them for each job, to ensure you’ve covered the wide range of hazards that could be present. Doing this can improve your own hazard perception and ability to recognise dangers in the workplace. This will only benefit your business and team in the long run!
You will encounter people who might not take it seriously or those who become annoyed at needing to check something they’ve worked with a hundred times, but it only takes once for someone to be seriously injured or worse. If you’ve done everything right, you and your business are covered.
Before the Job
You’ll need to be aware of these things before a job starts. Having these on the HVAC safety checklist first ensures that work is ready to go before anything else.
Safety starts before work!
Before starting a job, the worksite needs to be assessed. The safety hazards listed above will be the starting point for a site assessment, and larger sites should have a safety supervisor present. The conditions, equipment, materials and hazards need to be covered and considered.
The results of this safety assessment will make up the bulk of your HVAC safety checklist.
If you/your business is not on a large site but a smaller residential/commercial job, you can make and use an HVAC safety checklist template to ensure you’ve covered yourself and your employees at work.
All HVAC technicians need safety training addressing the common hazards and dangers of the trade. Training in proper chemical handling and identification, respiratory hazards, working in confined/hard-to-access spaces, equipment safety and more. Some may need safety training around electrical circuits and live currents, depending on the role.
This includes induction training, new skills training and refresher training. Depending on the size of your business, you can employ outside organisations to assist in creating/providing safety training for your team.
When you’re working long hours, getting up early and getting home late, it can be easy to have things slip your mind. During work, safety training can often be pushed to the back of someone’s mind by the work they need to do now. It happens to everyone.
Toolbox talks, also known as safety talks, are essential to workplace safety. Safety training takes care of what you might encounter on a site, while a toolbox talk is about what is relevant for that day/week. Toolbox talks are informal meetings, usually run at the start of the workday or workweek, to highlight any important safety topics or concerns the team has raised.
That way, you and your team are on the same page, and everyone gets a refresher on an important safety topic.
Another important part of your HVAC safety checklist is Personal Protective Equipment: PPE. Each job will differ in what PPE may be required, but add everything to the list and check off what is appropriate for each job.
PPE that should be included on the list include:
-Face Shield Respirators for dust, dirt, debris and chemicals
-Gloves that are cold/heat and chemical resistant
-Sturdy, full-body cover clothing
Another important part of PPE on an HVAC safety checklist is ensuring everything is in safe working order. Having everything you need is the first step; ensuring it’s fit for work is the next.
This step of your HVAC safety checklist is a great example of how having and using a list will improve your efficiency and safety in the workplace: the more you’re aware of safety needs and what to look for, the more efficiently you’ll manage equipment and streamline your practises. Keeping up-to-date with these concerns as part of a routine will mean fewer chances of being caught out without the necessary equipment and losing time on a job.
Make sure the equipment you’re working with is in good condition and up to date with servicing. Failing or broken equipment can lead to serious hazards, even if it’s ‘working alright.’
Regularly check for any signs of damage and wear and tear for electrical equipment. As HVAC chemicals can be flammable, any electrical malfunctions could cause a lot of damage.
As mentioned in the PPE point, regular checks and servicing will lead to long-term efficiency and trust that your equipment will be ready to go when needed.
If you have dangerous areas and chemical use, put up proper signage to warn others that it is a hazardous area and requires relevant PPE. This is particularly important on shared worksites to ensure the safety of others and to cover yourself if someone ignores the signs and gets injured.
During the Job
These are concerns to keep in mind during work, and conditions that might change over time. If you’re aware and prepared, you have the best situation to keep yourself and others safe if a problem arises.
Accessibility Issues and Confined Spaces
As an HVAC tech, you’ll be working in a lot of tricky spaces. Confined spaces are a common work area for tradies, and they carry a lot of potential hazards. Not only does a confined space make it difficult for a tradie to enter and exit easily, but it can also make the work itself difficult with a lack of access to necessary parts.
As you work in a confined space, ensure there is correct ventilation for any fumes or gases that may be present and ensure a flow of oxygen. There is also the risk of flood or fire, so HVAC tradies should always be alert to any changes in the condition of the space.
The weather conditions of the day might change from what you expected. We’ve all been burned by the BOM, and often conditions will change.
In winter, there will be rain, cold and wind damage concerns to people and equipment. In summer, the safety concerns will change dehydration, overheating, chemical storage/reactions, flammable materials, and more.
Extra steps might be needed to ensure working safety, depending on the weather.
Working in confined spaces can be made worse by extreme temperatures. If you’re concerned about your team, more breaks could be necessary to keep everyone healthy.
HVAC tradies work with a lot of chemicals, and while plenty of these are listed as safe, it’s still important to include a manifest of all the chemicals you and your team will be working with on your HVAC safety checklist.
The names, types, hazards, usage and storage guidelines must be readily available to the team, along with the necessary PPE to handle the chemicals. Safe disposal guidelines are also necessary.
After the Job
Once work is finished, a few things on your HVAC safety checklist are left to go. These last steps are to make sure the site is safe for others and so your business can improve safety practices.
It’s important that you have a process for properly cleaning up any debris and chemical waste from the site to remove hazards for others. Equipment should be packed up and stored properly for safety and to prevent any damage.
If work continues or is a shared site, ensure dangerous areas are properly closed and signposted and hazardous materials are secured and stored.
After a job is completed, it’s important to be open to feedback from your team. You never know what might have occurred during a job or what a team member noticed while working. If a concern/hazard wasn’t accounted for in the assessment or developed during work, you need to be aware and incorporate it into your HVAC safety checklist for the next job.
The previous point ties into this. After each job, review what the HVAC safety checklist covers and the job experience. Check for any differences between what you observed and how it worked onsite. Maybe the space was harder to work in than initially thought, or the equipment stopped working.
These reviews mean future hazards will become easier to recognise and can become the source your business uses for toolbox talks.
Safety-First Culture in HVAC Work
Creating, checking and maintaining an HVAC checklist is a necessary part of keeping yourself and your team safe, but there’s no doubt that it’s a lot of work. Safety comes first in the workplace, but with the incredible demand and workload HVAC tradies can experience, streamlining the process is important. This isn’t to say corners will be cut, but there are ways safety can be accessible to everyone without the slog.
Software can make the process smoother and more efficient for your business. Think about the effort it takes to pick and price jobs, especially with growing demand. You want to get the best out of your time while keeping customers happy.
Industry apps such as AroFlo’s HVAC software can reduce paperwork, make HVAC safety checklists and documents digitally available, streamline invoices and bills, and more.
Request a demo with us today!