Archive for Health and Safety

5 Areas Plumbers & Pipefitters Must Protect

Surely, everyone is aware of all the basic safety precautions that come with our profession. But we don’t think a reminder hurts every now and then. As plumbers and pipefitters, our work can sometimes put us in situations where injuries can be sustained, and we have to know when and how to prevent them.

Eyes

Wearing safety glasses are a necessity particularly when you are cutting, soldering or working on something over your head. Keeping water and fragments out of your eyes will prevent eye infections and trips to the ER for debris removal.

Some accidents can cause permanent eye damage, like severe scratches or deep punctures. These types of injuries can make your eye your vulerable to injection from baceria or fungus and cause serious harm within just 24 hours.

Metal objects in the eye can rust and cause significant scarring. A doctor must remove such objects as soon as possible.

If any of the above scenarios made you cringe, take comfort in the fact that eye protection can prevent all of them.

Ears

Sawing, hammering and pounding are noises we are used to, but that doesn’t mean we should disregard the possible damage they can cause to our ears.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens when loud sounds damage the sensitive structures (called hair cells) in our inner ear. These small sensory cells convert energy into electrical signals that travel to our brains. When damaged, those cells cannot grow back. NIHL can be caused by one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, like an explosion, or by on-going sounds over a longer period of time. The louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it will take for NIHL to occur.

For a person developing NIHL, sounds will gradually sound more and more muffled. Eventually, it may become very difficult for the person to understand simple speech.

Another consequence of the over-exposure to loud noises is something called tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Anyone can experience tinnitus, even those who are not exposed to loud noises. But prolonged exposure increases a person’s risk significantly.

Investing in some ear buds won’t do any harm. They may require some getting used to, but we think the temporary discomfort is worth it to keep our sense of sound.

Hands

You need healthy, functioning hands to do the work a plumber or pipefitter does. So, you definitely want to protect them from burns, puncture wounds, or worse. When working with chemicals, wear rough rubber gloves. If you are smoldering, use heavy-duty leather gloves that will protect your hands from accidental drips or spills.

Lungs

There are a number of diseases that are cuased by respiratory irritants and toxic chemical fumes. Certain exposures are even lethal.

Respiratory irritants include materials that cause inflammation in the airways or pulmonary parenchyma after they are inhaled. Any substances that can cause damage to these areas are considered toxic. Inflammatory effects on the lungs may be present or non-present (as in carbon monoxide poisoning).

Some common illnesses caused by breathing in toxic fumes include infalation fevers, Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS), Metal Fume Fever (MFF), and Polymer Fume Fever.

When working with any chemicals, it’s best to protect your lungs by wearing a respirator.

Full Body

There are some general, full-body precautions we must take as plumbers and pipefitters. The first that comes to mind is electrocution. When making a repair near an electrical source, make sure the power is turned off first. Water and electricity are not a safe combination. Electric shock occurs when an electric current flows through the body. Our bodies are 60-70{44d3fefb4cadae8cb5aae561d4978dac9cd7d37b0319b39354db5fb0be48f589} water, making them good conductors of electricity.

Here are some signs and symptoms that you might be experiencing electric shock:

  •             Shocking sensations
  •             Numbness or tingling
  •             Change in vision, speech, or any sensation
  •             Muscle spasms or contractions
  •             Burns or open wounds
  •             Sudden immobility or fractures
  •             Interrupted breathing
  •             Irregular heartbeat
  •             Chest pain
  •             Seizures
  •             Unconsciousness

Contact with electricity from a low-voltage current needs emergency care if any of the above signs or symptoms are present. Contact with electricity from a high-voltage wire always requires emergency medical care.

Always be prepared for a health crisis by keeping your emergency numbers at hand, which should include the fire department, medical centers, police stations, and utility companies.

Resources

All About Vision

http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/eye-injuries.htm

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx

Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tinnitus/DS00365

International Labor Organization

http://www.ilo.org/safework_bookshelf/english?content&nd=857170099

Health World Online

http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1490

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