HVAC, Technician Tips

9 HVAC Safety Hazards Every Tech Should Be Aware Of

February 13th, 2023
10 Min Read

Whether you run an HVAC service business or are a field tech yourself, technician safety must be a central focus in your day-to-day operations to avoid dangerous and costly HVAC accidents. Danger lurks in many places for anyone who works with HVAC equipment (heating systems, cooling systems, air conditioning, etc.). HVAC industry professionals should adhere to best HVAC servicing procedures and stay vigilant for common hazards. That’s why we’ve identified the nine biggest HVAC safety hazards and collected the best HVAC safety recommendations, regulations, and standards in one place.

In this article, we’ll begin by giving you a list of HVAC safety standards and essential personal protective equipment (PPE), and we’ll run through the most common HVAC safety hazards. Then, we’ll look specifically at how using ServiceTitan’s HVAC service management software can automate processes that may otherwise distract your HVAC techs from what they need to do to keep safe. 

Finally, we show you how to use ServiceTitan to build safety checklists, which can be triggered on every job to remind HVAC techs of what to look out for.

To prevent common HVAC accidents and avoid risks, HVAC technicians should take the following 9 potential hazards into account, and put the suggested safety precautions in place:

  1. Electrical HVAC safety hazards

  2. Chemical exposure

  3. Inadequate equipment inventory

  4. Respiratory hazards

  5. Ladder liability

  6. Dangerous driving

  7. Unprofessional conduct

  8. Extreme weather

  9. Technician and client health

Are you interested in learning more about how your HVAC techs can use ServiceTitan to eliminate distracting busywork, so they can focus on what’s most important? Click here to get a free, one-on-one demo of our service management software.

HVAC Safety Standards & Essential PPE

To avoid HVAC accidents, always wear PPE.

The Refrigeration School Inc. recommends the following PPE:

  • Steel-toed work boots

  • Full-coverage clothing

  • Thick HVAC work gloves

  • Hard hat

  • Safety goggles

  • Face shield

  • Respirator

  • Earplugs

Be sure to evaluate each worksite for common HVAC safety hazards. You can often remedy slippery surfaces, fall dangers, and electrical risks before beginning the job. 

If you are a technician, make your personal safety a priority when out in the field. You must be fully licensed and trained to do your job. Don’t take shortcuts. And if you notice any gaps in your safety knowledge or training, speak to your supervisor to find an effective solution. HVAC safety training should be a routine practice—it’s never too late to start.

Read more about HVAC winter safety in our in-depth article.

Note: With ServiceTitan’s field service management software, HVAC techs can note all safety considerations related to a customer’s premises in their file. These notes, inspection checklists, and even pictures of specific safety hazards (which the tech adds via the ServiceTitan Mobile app on a tablet while on the job) will be included in the customer’s job history. These details are immediately shown when a call is booked for that customer in the future.

1. Electrical Hazards

HVAC work requires handling electrical wiring. When on a job, techs must de-energize all equipment before performing routine inspections, tests, repairs, and other servicing procedures.

Avoid accidents with these electrical HVAC safety tips:

  • Turn off power to the corresponding circuit in the breaker panel. 

  • Use proper lockout and tag procedures to ensure no one tries to turn on the power while you are working.

  • Before performing the work, test the circuit with a meter that is properly rated for the type of circuit you’re testing to determine if it’s still energized.

2. Chemical Exposure

One of the main HVAC accidents the industry sees is exposure to dangerous chemicals and contaminants.

Technicians work with a variety of chemicals that can cause serious burns, such as refrigerants, cleaning liquids, solvents, and gasses. Even though a lot of refrigerants are classified as safe by the manufacturers, the chemicals’ toxicity is subject to increase when exposed to heat—ultimately reducing indoor air quality and posing a health hazard to technicians. Proper HVAC safety training is crucial before working with these chemicals. When handling hazardous materials, exercise caution and always gear up with reliable personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, protective footwear, and HVAC work gloves. Follow all safety precautions. Pressurized gas cylinders—commonly found on the back of a technician’s work truck—can become a fire hazard or even explosive when exposed to extreme summer temperatures. One bump on the road can send them shooting off like a rocket. For proper handling and storage, the American Welding Society (AWS) recommends the following:

  • Secure cylinders upright with a chain or strap in a proper cylinder cart.

  • Ensure valves are completely closed and any protection devices are secured.

  • Keep cylinders in a ventilated location free from excessive heat and electrical circuits.

  • Ensure safety measures, such as caps or guards, are securely installed.

  • Use a cart or hand truck. Do NOT drag or roll cylinders.

3. Inadequate Equipment Inventory

Having the proper HVAC tools is crucial. Practice a routine of prevention and awareness. Before departing for your scheduled route, make sure the tools in your vehicle are ready for work. This way, you can arrive at the homeowner’s residence confident you have the properly functioning tools needed to complete the job. Additionally, determining which tools you’ll be using for your next job makes it easy to hit the ground running upon arrival. It’s not just about staying organized with your equipment inventory; it actually prevents you from improvising when you’re in the midst of a job. The best tactic for safety is prevention and proper HVAC servicing procedures. Read our related article for suggestions on how to check equipment before setting out on a call: HVAC Van Organization: Tips & Strategies for Better Efficiency

4. Respiratory HVAC Safety Hazards

The most common health risks HVAC technicians are exposed to are respiratory related. Many homes contain HVAC systems with dirty air filters that act as petri dishes for mold, bacteria, and fungus. A faulty pilot light and heat exchangers leaking on the furnace can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Wear an industrial-grade face mask to prevent inhaling these lingering dangers in close proximity and for extended periods. Sometimes, the job requires a higher-grade mask, such as a cartridge-style mask or even a self-contained breathing mask—especially if the job is in a contaminated and confined space. Adequate airflow is paramount in these situations, and work should be carried out in an open space, whenever possible.

Click here to learn more about OSHA’s Respiratory Protection safety standards.

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5. Ladder Liability

According to a CDC report, “each year in the U.S., more than 100 people die and thousands more are injured from ladder-related falls.” By taking a few extra steps to adequately secure your ladder, you prevent one of the most common instances of fatalities and injuries on job sites.

When engaging in ladder work:

  • Always maintain three-point contact. Either both feet with at least one hand or both hands with at least one foot on the ladder at all times.

  • Place the base of the ladder a quarter of its working length from the dwelling to achieve the safest angle.

  • Make sure the extension or straight ladder extends at least 3 feet above the point of support.

  • Ensure all locks are properly engaged on an extension ladder.

For more electrical safety tips, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s National Electric Code and Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces.

6. Dangerous Driving

All of your tools may be pristine and properly stored. You may be fully outfitted with all of the PPE you can manage to put on. You can climb a ladder safely and follow every precautionary step when dealing with electrical or chemical hazards. But none of that matters if you never make it to the job.

Daily driving is a mundane reality for virtually all HVAC technicians. But driving with care not only reflects positively on your company (let’s face it—that van is really just a moving billboard),  it saves lives.

To stay safe on the road:

  • Schedule enough time between jobs, so you are not rushing to get there.

  • Always communicate with your dispatcher if your schedule is not feasible for your driving route.

ServiceTitan’s Route Optimization Features and Implications for Driver Safety

ServiceTitan’s dispatching features include route optimization—giving techs the most efficient route to their next job site. Route optimization allows technicians to complete more jobs in less time without compromising on safety. Plus, having automated driving instructions reduces stress and eliminates distractions for drivers. ServiceTitan’s route optimization feature automatically minimizes drive time by using average traffic speeds. It can optimize technician route schedules to take existing commitments into consideration, so you don’t have to remember every techs’ dental appointment, or scheduled afternoon off. 

Daily jobs are completed in the most efficient order based on technician locations—plus, technicians never need to find the most efficient routes themselves. 

7. Unprofessional Conduct

It’s an act of trust when a homeowner invites a technician into their home, and nothing screams unprofessional like an untrained technician. An untrained technician easily disrupts a homeowner’s sense of security. As a business owner, make sure all of your technicians receive HVAC safety training to recognize hazards and establish proper protocols to ensure the safety of both technicians and customers.

8. Extreme Weather Conditions

HVAC technicians frequently work outside in extreme heat or cold. This leaves them at risk for fatigue, dehydration, heat stroke, hypothermia, and frostbite. As an HVAC tech, know your limits, wear the proper clothing, hydrate, and take breaks as needed to avoid these conditions. If techs don’t take care of themselves and their co-workers, they can’t serve customers properly. A technician’s health is worth the time. 

9. Technician & Client Health

As a part of their job, HVAC technicians touch various surfaces (door handles, thermostats, etc.). While there were fewer health risks associated with transmission before COVID-19, the pandemic cautioned us to take additional steps to ensure the health and safety of technicians and customers. And this remains a concern, particularly for those who may be classed as vulnerable. Simple safety strategies can help mitigate these ongoing risks. In situations where contracting COVID may still be a health concern, all transactions that can be completed virtually (like receipts and payments) should be done in advance to limit contact. For the actual visit, all employees should wear a properly fitted mask. Further, technicians should carry disinfectants for their hands and equipment and maintain a 6-foot distance. After completion of the job, all employees should wash their hands, or at least sanitize them until they have the option to do so. Understandably, any employee showing symptoms or facing health concerns should not be working. Following these cautionary steps can ensure that the technicians, as well as the customers, are fully protected and prepared.

Further reading: Mitigating COVID-19 Risk with ServiceTitan

Note: ServiceTitan Mobile provides contactless payment features so customers can pay for their service immediately, without handling cash or even passing over their credit card.

Keep HVAC Techs Efficient (and Safe) with ServiceTitan

ServiceTitan’s field service software gives you, your office staff, and your HVAC techs everything needed to perform jobs more efficiently.

ServiceTitan Mobile Helps HVAC Techs Arrive Fully Informed

Being well-prepared is one of the most important aspects of HVAC safety.  If your HVAC business is still paper-based, techs can easily lose track of those papers, which causes job delays. Plus, when techs know the exact details about their HVAC set up and property data ahead of time, they can consider safety implications before they arrive. ServiceTitan Mobile gives your HVAC techs paperless access to every piece of information your Customer Service Rep (CSR) collected from the customer when the job was booked. Because all documents, forms, and customer details are stored in the cloud, techs can see customer names, addresses, contact details, outstanding estimates, and even listen to a recording of the customer’s call with the service rep.

Keep HVAC Techs Safe with Consistent Systems and Processes

ServiceTitan makes it easy for HVAC companies to implement automated systems and processes, which not only make businesses more efficient and profitable, but also make them safer workplaces. 

The automated systems and processes our software offers includes:

  • Call booking systems: As soon as a customer calls, ServiceTitan shows your customer service reps the caller’s name, job history, and contact details. CSRs can greet repeat customers by name and will have a record of any previous work done by your business. ServiceTitan gives CSRs drop-down menus of information that needs to be collected before sending a tech out to the job, so no piece of information is forgotten. (These job details are vital for your HVAC techs to refer to later.)

  • Cloud-based documentation: ServiceTitan stores all documents and forms in the cloud so techs don’t have to remember to file forms and papers back at the office, or worry about losing them while on the road.

  • Custom form creation: ServiceTitan allows both techs and managers to build custom forms to collect all kinds of information in the field. By requiring forms to be completed on jobs, including safety checklists, HVAC techs can reduce errors and stay safe. You can trigger specific forms and checklists to appear on specific types of jobs. These may include maintenance checklists, safety checklists for specific pieces of HVAC equipment, and forms that are required to be filled before a tech can conclude a job within the software. ServiceTitan’s forms provide a framework for techs to follow to make them safer and more efficient.

  • Templates: ServiceTitan offers a range of HVAC templates (for invoicing, estimates, and every other stage of an HVAC job) to give customers consistent information for proposals, estimates, pricing, invoices, and more. By having all this information at their fingertips, and knowing they can rely on it being there when they need it, HVAC techs can focus on the important business of staying safe and doing their job well.

Are you interested in learning more about how your HVAC techs can use ServiceTitan to eliminate distracting busywork, so they can focus on what’s most important? Click here to get a free, one-on-one demo of our service management software.

Further reading for HVAC Professionals:

ServiceTitan HVAC Software

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