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Crucial Safety Tips for Pipefitters

Pipefitters have a dangerous job, constantly exposed to dangerous work, heavy machinery and other workers. Unfortunately, many instances could lead to severe injuries or death.

Equipment hazards include the use of welding torches and saws to size pipes properly. Pipefitters also work with brazing, grinding, bending, threading and soldering pipes, exposing them to crushing dangers, hot sparks, sharp cutting tools, and entanglement risks.

Then there are the hazardous materials, such as oxidizers, refrigerants, flammable products and other hazards that can cause fires or explosions. Pipefitters also risk inhaling toxic chemical fumes or being splashed with chemicals.

The list of dangers to pipefitters does not end there. There are heavy loads, there is particle release, falls and crane accidents.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, pipefitters have one of the highest workplace injury and illness rates of any occupation.

How to Protect Your Health

  • Ask a supervisor for safe work training and instructions.
  • Wear a proper respirator when you suspect asbestos may be present on the worksite.
  • Ensure there is proper ventilation where you are working.
  • Consult material safety data sheets (MSDSs) or other information on chemicals used at the worksite.
  • Wear coveralls and welding jackets and use barrier creams for skin protection.
  • Wipe or wash hands clean before drinking, eating and smoking.
  • Never drink, eat or smoke in an area that may be contaminated with lead, asbestos, or toxic chemicals.
  • Remove contaminated clothing at the end of your shift.
  • Report any hazards to your supervisor.
  • Know the risks of falling. Pipefitters often use harnesses, webbing, or platforms to avoid falling from heights. Know the risks and prepare for them.
  • Significant bodily injuries may occur when large loads are combined with precarious positions. These can permanently damage your body. Be prepared not just for cuts and scrapes but for sprains, strains and ligament tears.
  • Tiny airborne particles are present when pipes must be manipulated with a saw or torch. Wear protective eye gear to avoid sharp metal fragments that can cause permanent eye damage.
  • Stability is essential whether you are working from the ground on a ladder 30 feet up. Cramped, dark places are also prime spots for slips and trips. Take extra caution.
  • Pipefitters frequently need to torch, saw, or otherwise manipulate pipes. Be extra cautious when operating equipment to avoid cuts, burns, crush injuries, or even severed limbs.
  • Always protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, coats and gloves. In addition, all personal protective equipment or PPE should be well-fitted. A ripped glove or a breach in your goggles can spell disaster.
  • Accidents that trigger flames can cause severe burns and smoke inhalation. Chemical fumes can cause respiratory damage or skin injuries. Be aware when working with flammable materials or products.

Pipefitting can be a rewarding and lucrative job. Still, dangers are constantly present, so using your expertise and wisdom and getting proper training can save you from injury or even death.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.