We all have our vices. It may be potato chips, fruit-flavored vodka, or a weekly trip to In-N-Out Burger for some. But I’m here to tell you that those vices aren’t doing you any favors. Especially not on the job as an HVAC technician.
And yes… you’re right. We’re all busy, between work and home life. So who has time to think about their health, right? The truth is we all know we should take care of ourselves. But with the demands that our job as HVAC or HVACR technicians put on us, it can be challenging to include these things.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the cycle of work, sleep, eat, and repeat. But it’s essential to take these moments to re-energize your mind and body. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. And when you have a career in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry, you need a healthy mind and body. So HVAC contractors and technicians need to be in top physical condition.
As technicians and contractors, we know that it’s hard to stay healthy while always traveling from place to place throughout the year. From dealing with termites and mosquitos to dust, debris, and mold spores, healthy habits might be challenging to cultivate. If you’re not eating right, taking vitamins, resting, or exercising, you could put your livelihood at risk. After all, your body is just as good as what you’re feeding it. So snacking and drinking energy drinks all day just won’t cut it.
HVAC contractors and service technicians work in scorching heat and humid air every year. In order to avoid potential heat-related health risks, it is essential to follow a few healthy habits while working in such an environment. Let me introduce to you three healthy habits for HVAC contractors and technicians.
Practice proper nutrition
We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” And it is a very true statement. Our bodies need proper nutrition to perform at their best. For an HVAC technician, this can be especially true. You have to be alert and prepared for any situation, and you also have to be physically fit to complete your job efficiently.
Think about it. HVAC techs are out in the field, moving to different locations each day. However, always driving to different areas means they don’t always get enough time to have a proper meal. So they end up snacking or getting fast food since it’s so easy.
Your job as an HVAC technician or contractor involves a lot of physical energy to install and repair HVAC systems. Most of it depends on your ability to lift or move heavy objects. And you can’t get that energy you need with poor dietary choices.
Listen to your body
When you listen to your body, it will tell you if it’s getting proper nourishment. For example, if you are constantly feeling tired or sleepy during the day, there is a good chance that your diet is not providing your body with everything it needs to function correctly.
As an HVAC technician or contractor, the job includes lifting up to 50 pounds in a workday. You will also be moving heavy equipment via pushing or pulling.
So it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be impaired in any way under these circumstances. So as tempting as it might be, don’t drink alcohol on the job. Not only does this put your livelihood at risk. But it puts the clients safety and the business’s reputation at risk, too. In addition, the job is very physically demanding. So start your day with a healthy breakfast. And don’t neglect your vitamins.
While you will be primarily busy, you can get a lot of your vitamins from supplements. And don’t forget to keep hydrated. In addition, one excellent way to ensure you stay away from fast food is to take your food with you. You can carry your lunch to work in a lunchbox or small cooler and have it whenever you’re ready. And you won’t have to wait in line for it either.
Get enough sleep
It might sound simple, but you need to get enough sleep. Rest plays a vital role in your performance in the field. If you are always tired when it comes time to work, ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep at night.
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night for their bodies and minds to rest and recover from the day’s stress. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, start going to bed earlier so that you can wake up earlier and have time to eat breakfast before heading off to work.
If a technician is sleep-deprived, they are more likely to make mistakes while performing their job. The worst part is that these mistakes can sometimes lead to severe accidents, which may cause injuries and even death.
The adverse effects of sleep deprivation in the HVAC industry
Tiredness is one of the leading causes of an increase in industrial accidents. A study by the American Journal of Sociology found that the chances of a workplace accident increase as the day goes on. And that is because you will get more tired and less alert over time if you’re working all day. Today, one in five HVAC workers gets injured on the job.
A report by the CDC also found that the installation, maintenance, and repair sector has a very high level of sleep deprivation. And the number of workplace injuries has also been increasing over time. So again, sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor to this trend.
The growing awareness in the industry
Awareness about the importance of getting enough sleep for employees is slowly spreading as employers are becoming more aware of the consequences of employee fatigue and its relationship to workplace accidents. Today, companies can implement a “sleep policy” where employees must get at least 7 hours of rest every night, but many companies still do not have such policies in place.
Some technicians find it challenging to get enough rest before reporting for work. For that, safety measures can be implemented to ensure their safety and avoid making any mistakes. For example, always observe dedicated break times to avoid feeling overworked.
The importance of exercise
Get plenty of exercise every day. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise will go a long way in helping you maintain a healthy state of being.
It’s no secret that exercise is crucial to your health. If you don’t exercise, you are at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer. These are just a few conditions that people who do not exercise regularly are at higher risk for contracting. If you already suffer from one or more of these conditions, you know how important it is to be physically active.
To keep up with the demands of your job as an HVAC technician, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising can help improve your work performance and improve your overall wellbeing.
If you’re looking for a career in the heating and cooling industry, exercise is essential. Here’s why:
- Tendinitis is one of the most common injuries that afflict technicians in this field. The cause is cumulative trauma to the hands and arms from doing all the heavy lifting of installing furnaces, air conditioners, and other equipment.
- CTS or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is another big one. It happens when we use our hands too much on these technical devices.
- Some people get severe back injuries because they aren’t strong enough to lift a particular piece of equipment. You should know that installing certain equipment can be very dangerous, especially for techs who are overweight or out of shape. So keep your body fit to handle all the demands of this job.
As HVAC technicians, we have to be ready for anything that comes our way daily.
Potential Hazards on the job
There are specific aspects of HVAC that can be pretty dangerous both in residential homes and office buildings. Specific jobs call for different skills, tools, and techniques. For example, commercial refrigeration requires you to handle dangerous chemicals safely. So, HVAC techs with successful careers are always careful and attentive with their duties. Below are some potential hazards techs can face if they’re not careful.
An HVAC technician should be aware of the possibility of electrical shock or electrocution. Electrocution can occur if a faulty unit is plugged in improperly or if someone is working with live electrical components. Electrical shocks can also lead to electrical burns and arc flashes. So it takes specific technical skills to embark on this career path.
A faulty unit can overheat and even catch fire. This can result in burns if not handled properly. In addition, working heat exchangers, hot water, or steam exposes workers to severe burns.
Exposure to toxic gases
Gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide can be released from faulty units and may cause severe illness or death, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.
In most cases, techs have to work with refrigerants. As a result, you can suffer from frostbite and skin damage if refrigerants get into contact with your skin. The Freon in refrigerants irritate the skin and causes rashes. Plus, if inhaled, it also irritates the respiratory system. So only handle this substance in a well ventilated area.
Airborne particles such as dust and debris are a concern for people who work with HVAC units regularly. Dust particles can cause respiratory issues and chronic cough or bronchitis.
Older HVAC systems installed before 1975 may contain asbestos insulation, which is carcinogenic to anyone who inhales asbestos fibers. Inhalation of these fibers can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma. If a system contains asbestos insulation, you must ensure the air is filtered adequately while the system is being repaired or replaced. So be prepared to encounter different air quality levels as an HVAC field worker.
Safety measures for HVAC technicians and contractors
HVAC technicians and contractors need to follow safety measures to avoid injury. Accidents can happen quickly, especially if the workers are not alert or do not pay attention to the environment. Luckily, there is usually a simple solution to keep you safe.
Some safety measures include wearing personal protective equipment, working in pairs, keeping a safe distance from electrical wires, and being aware of all of your surroundings.
Disregarding even basic safety measures can put you at risk for injury or death. Here are five dos and don’ts for HVAC technicians and contractors:
- Don’t work on a unit that has been damaged by water or fire. Please wait until you’re sure it’s safe to do any work. HVAC students learn this lesson very early in their training programs.
- Wear protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a hard hat, when working. This is not a mistake that HVAC professionals will make.
- Don’t assume a wire is dead because the power is off. Instead, check it with an electrical tester before touching it.
- Remember to bundle any cables you may be clipping off before removing them to avoid accidental cuts. A task like this requires expert skills. Clipping them off while still attached will cause unnecessary stress on the wires. And this could be dangerous if they fray or break during removal. You could end up with live wires coming out of your wall or ceiling!
- Don’t overload extension cords with multiple appliances plugged into them.
What an HVAC career entails
An HVAC tech installs and repairs heating and cooling systems. As an HVAC technician, you will be working with property owners of both residential buildings and commercial buildings like offices, hospitals, and factories. You will have to do complex tasks during the installation and repair process. For example, you’ll have to crawl into tight spaces to get the job done right and satisfy customer needs.
Let’s take an installation job, for example. A complete HVAC installation can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days to complete. And there will be times that technicians and installers work overtime.
You can also expect to do some electrical work in the HVAC field. The fact is there is a variety of roles from similar professions that helps bring comfort to a space. For example, this includes electrical work, plumbing, and mechanics. So this type of insight or experience is welcome!
If you want to advance your HVAC career or you’re looking at career options, The Cooling Company has an opportunity for you. You can start with an entry-level position with your high school diploma and our HVAC training. Or if you are already certified by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) there is a place for you, too. Contact us today to schedule an interview!