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, particularly not on the job as an HVAC technician where efficiency, knowledge, and punctuality are vital. Proper hygiene and health management are just as crucial with a profession that demands so much from your body and your mind.
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. This is where teamwork and effective communication become indispensable, fostering a sense of organization that aids in time management, and ultimately contributes to our wellness.
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 we have a career in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry, we need a healthy mind and body. That’s why, as HVAC contractors and technicians, we need to be in top physical condition, all under the banner of professionalism.
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, nurturing healthy habits might be challenging. 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 wellness is an essential ingredient to our work, and the snacking and 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 maintain overall efficiency and knowledge of safety protocols, and avoiding potential heat-related health risks, it is essential to follow a few healthy habits while striving to maintain punctuality even in such an environment. Let me introduce to you three healthy habits for HVAC contractors and technicians that prioritize hygiene, organization, and wellness.
Practice proper nutrition
We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” And it is a very true statement, especially for professionals like us. Our bodies need proper nutrition to perform at their best. For an HVAC technician, this can be especially true. We have to be alert and prepared for any situation, and also need to be physically fit to complete our job effectively, emphasizing efficiency and knowledge in our craft.
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. Here, personal organization, punctuality, and a focus on improved health management become key to maintaining a routine that fosters wellness and productivity.
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. Therefore, Professionalism in this aspect means understanding the critical importance of wellness and hygiene in managing your day-to-day routines.
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. It’s time to understand, communication between your body and your mind must be a two-way street.
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. Efficient management of your physical resources underpins a professional approach to physical labor.
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 safely and the business’s reputation at risk, too. In addition, the job is very physically demanding. Therefore, start your day with a healthy breakfast. And don’t neglect your vitamins. Remember, everything counts towards your overall wellness.
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. Engaging in good nutritional practices and overall wellness significantly enhances your efficacy, professionalism, punctuality, organization, and teamwork skills in the HVAC world.
You can carry your lunch to work in a lunchbox or small cooler and have it whenever you’re ready. This option not only brings balance to your dietary routine but also enhances your productivity as you won’t have to wait in line or on your feet for your food. It’s important to take sufficient breaks for meals throughout your day, a crucial step in maintaining well-being when dealing with work-related stress.
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. The right amount and quality of sleep are imperative factors to ensure you can effectively process information related to your job. 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, execute caution in your daily operations, and consider making the slightest adjustments to your daily schedule, such as going to bed earlier so that you wake up earlier, ready to take on the steps of the day.
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 dangerously impact customers as well as the technician, sometimes causing severe injuries or 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. This makes it essential to take regular breaks, especially considering the heightened risk as the day progresses.
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 once again, sleep deprivation stands as a major contributing factor to this alarming 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. These measures should include observing dedicated break times, which serves as a crucial step in preventing overwork.
The importance of exercise
Get plenty of exercise every day. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise will go a long way in enhancing your balance and overall health, thus promoting 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, your ability to serve customers, 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. This requires an ability to quickly process information and perform tasks on our feet all day.
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 in their duties. Below are some potential hazards techs can face if they’re not cautious enough.
An HVAC technician should be aware of the possibility of electrical shock or electrocution. With this in mind, it is crucial to approach each job with caution, using the right tools and following safety steps to prevent any undesirable incidents.Pursuing a career in the electrical business, specifically as an HVAC technician, can be demanding. Electrocution can occur if a faulty unit is plugged in improperly or if someone is working with live electrical components at a high point on a ladder. Physical aspects of the job, such as maneuvering ladders on job sites, pose additional challenges. Electrical shocks can also lead to electrical burns and arc flashes, so it takes specific technical skills and safety tips to embark on this career path.
A faulty unit can overheat and even catch fire. This can result in burns if not handled properly, hence making safety a priority. In addition, working heat exchangers, hot water, or steam exposes workers to severe burns. Moreover, the misuse of equipment or materials on job sites, like ladders, can also contribute to injuries.
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. This is crucial for those working on job sites where exposure to such hazardous materials is possible.
In most situations, technicians have to work with refrigerants. As a result, you can suffer from frostbite and skin damage if refrigerants get into contact with your skin. Dehydration can also increase susceptibility to such skin damages. The Freon in refrigerants irritates 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. Proper safety procedures on job sites offer practical tips for mitigating these risks.
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 or even scale ladders 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. Especially in the heat of summer or the chill of winter, hydration and protection against dehydration must be a priority on job sites.
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. Getting started in the business may involve working on job sites and even climbing ladders, but there’s also the chance to rise up the corporate ladder in your career. 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!