Schools Training

How Roofers and Plumbers Keep it Safe

10 AUG 2012
Career Path : Apprenticeships

Some jobs are more hazardous than others. A professional Formula One driver puts himself at far more risk every time he gets behind the wheel than someone who puts on their headset at a call centre. But it isn’t always so black and white.


Regarding skilled technician work in construction and similar industries, one would easily assume the roofer’s job is far more dangerous than the plumber’s. A roofer spends most of his time working high up while the plumber is safely on the ground. But proper workplace safety is is just as important for the plumber as the roofer, even if in less obvious ways. What the plumber and the roofer have in common regarding workplace safety is attention and diligence regarding their surroundings, their equipment, and  themselves. Though this intuition is learned during one’s career, it is important to get the proper education and training beforehand regarding workplace safety.


Roofing Safety


Falling off the roof is the most obvious danger, and this can happen because of a loss of balance, careless equipment or material handling, or even the roof caving in. The basic tips for maintaining balance include: never rush or hurry, stay cool and well-hydrated, and always keep a stable visual point of reference to avoid dizziness. In most cases the roofer can make use of a temporary guard rail, but this option is not always available.


Other aspects of roofing safety include the proper procedure for handling propane cylinders used to heat the tar. Keep propane tanks upright and away from other materials that may need to be moved around a lot. When moving a propane tank, always lift it properly from both ends of the collar, never drag or slide the tank. Another hazard is the presence of electrical lines which are often present near roofs. Know in advance the electrical voltage and keep the appropriate distance, which is approximately 1 metre for up to 750 volts. These and other useful guidelines are standard material taught in any roofer apprenticeship program.


Plumbing Safety


For plumbers, perhaps the biggest hazard is the exposure to noxious chemicals, like asbestos, lead or mold. Proper inspection of the work area for such chemicals is vital before beginning a job. Also be sure to wear the necessary protective gear while working and then wash your hands and equipment properly after each job.


Plumbers also have to negotiate some tricky spots to work. If working in a confined space, make sure that it is properly ventilated using some an air monitor device. Also pay attention to your own body for being at risk of muscle pains. Taking short breaks for fresh air and stretching goes a long way for physical safety and health. Regarding excessively wet spaces, be extra cautious to avoid electric shock by employing a grounding device. Doing a plumber apprenticeship will train you with grounding and air monitoring devices.



These are just a few examples of the hazards and safety precautions for roofer and plumbers. Both must always practice proper equipment handling at all times, must have done a good inspection of their work areas, and must pay attention to their physical conditions during their long hours of work.



Visit Mohawk College and learn more about opportunities doing general apprenticeships.