Working on any type of mechanical system — especially refrigeration systems — can be hazardous at times. Working safely should always be part of the job, each and every day. Never perform a task that could place yourself or anyone else in an unsafe situation.

There are many reasons why some choose to work unsafely, but a big one is just being lazy. Try to avoid this and always take the extra time needed to work safely. A common example of being lazy is when you set up a ladder to climb onto a roof, and you forget a rope to hoist up your tools and/or parts. Instead of taking the time to go back to your truck and get what you need, you decide to carry them up by hand. Not a wise decision. You could slip or lose your balance and may not be able to recover, resulting in a fall off the ladder. Sometimes the ladder you are using is just a little too short for the location, so you decide to use the top step and stretch to reach the required location — again, not a wise choice.

Taking unnecessary shortcuts is another way of working unsafely. For example, you cannot easily locate the disconnect or circuit breaker for an electrical circuit, so you choose to work on it live. Not a good choice, because one wrong move, and you could get electrocuted. Before taking a shortcut on a job, ask yourself: “Is this a safe shortcut and a wise choice?”

Not wearing the proper protective gear can also lead to a serious workplace injury. Always wear safety glasses and gloves when required, as well as appropriate and good quality work boots. You may think you do not need them, but not being protected can lead to an unnecessary injury. Recently, I was using a grinding wheel to cut off a small bolt. I did not wear my safety glasses and got a small splinter of metal in my eye. The eye doctor actually pulled out the small metal fragment with a pair of tweezers.

Another unwise choice that can lead to an injury is trying to do a two-man job by yourself. Don’t try to be a hero on a job by refusing to ask for help. For example, if you need to lift a large compressor on top of a walk-in freezer, ask for help.

Lack of education can also be a major factor in working unsafely, because not understanding how a particular system operates could cause a big problem. For example, refrigeration systems contain various types of safety devices that are designed to protect both the equipment and the people operating the equipment. Never leave a safety device bypassed, as this could present a very dangerous situation and could easily lead to serious personal injury or equipment damage. If while inspecting a system you notice that a safety device has been bypassed, notify the owner of the system. This dangerous situation should not continue, and the safety device should be placed back in operation before work begins again.

So remember … safety first, no exceptions!

Publication date: 10/1/2018

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