Plumbing involves hazards, whether you’re a professional plumber or own a plumbing business. For example, water supplies need to be properly shut off prior to certain work to avoid flooding or physical safety hazards; plumbing may be near electrical wiring or gas lines, and associated gas leaks may be involved.
While homeowners — and anyone else attempting DIY plumbing — should be aware of the risks involved in a particular project, plumbing businesses face a lot more exposure and liability to risk simply because plumbers are working year-round in new, unknown environments (both residential and commercial). So, understanding and having a mitigation plan for plumbing safety must be a top priority from a business perspective.
We’ve worked with plumbing businesses of all sizes for many years, and some members of our staff are from the plumbing trade.
In this post, we share our four top tips for ensuring your plumbers and customers are safe when plumbing work is carried out:
Tip #1: Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
Tip #2: Organize and maintain the right tools
Tip #3: Invest in health and safety training
Tip #4: Protect your plumbing business with insurance
Then, we share five additional tips that explain how our plumbing software, ServiceTitan, can help organize your plumbing business so that your plumbing techs and business processes work more efficiently and have more energy and time to stay cognizant of safety issues.
Specifically, ServiceTitan helps plumbers:
Tip #5: Prepare for jobs in advance to maximize efficiency
Tip #6: Dispatch the right techs to the right job
Tip #7: Create checklists to minimize errors
Tip #8: Streamline communication between office and techs
Tip #9: Track performance so you can spot potential safety issues
If you’re interested in how ServiceTitan can help you run your plumbing business safely and efficiently, book a free, personalized demo.
Tip #1: Use Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Protect from environmental hazards
Practice sanitary procedures
Plumber safety begins with proper protective gear. The right clothing (with long sleeves), boots, hats, work gloves, eye protection (safety glasses), ear plugs, respirators, face masks, and other equipment help ensure safety on the job site.
Among other health hazards, professional plumbers can encounter:
Mold from leaking water supplies
Dust from cutting or sawing plumbing pipes
Asbestos in old materials
Burns from soldering or hot water heaters
Toxic drain cleaners from DIY plumbing by homeowners attempting to clear a clog
Bacteria and viruses from raw sewage
Experts recommend following sanitary practices, such as wearing shoe covers, washing hands often, wearing latex gloves when appropriate, and avoiding touching your eyes. Employees who wash their own work uniforms should wash them separately from other household laundry.
Also, plumbers often climb ladders and scaffolding, use loud equipment, move repetitively, and work in confined spaces while completing plumbing projects. These movements and positions carry some risk of ergonomic injuries (like repetitive stress). To avoid ergonomic injuries, plumbers should routinely take breaks from awkward positions and practice safe lifting techniques. The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends that plumbers rotate tasks and take a quick break every 30 minutes.
Read about the best gloves for plumbers in this post.
Tip #2: Organize and Maintain the Right Tools
Organize tools and equipment
Maintain orderly vehicles
Georg Efird of Blue Planet Plumbing understands the importance of keeping employees accountable for stocking and organizing tools, and maintaining vehicles.
“We hold our technicians 100% accountable for the organization and maintenance of the vehicle," Efird says. The company grades technicians on everything, from a fully stocked first-aid kit down to the van's tire treads.
A well-stocked van enables technicians to safely tackle their plumbing jobs without using improper tools. It also eliminates wasted time, fuel, and the added risk of an accident by having to drive back to the shop.
Some companies, such as Nice Heating & Air, award points to techs for clean and well-stocked trucks, which the techs can exchange for rewards of their choice. You could also award bonus compensation for the cleanest vehicle or most improved work van.
Other safety precautions include keeping tools in working order, using power tools with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to avoid electrical shock, and employing air monitors in oxygen-deficient areas.
Tip #3: Invest in Health & Safety Training
Refine skills and techniques
Follow company safety protocol
As a plumbing business owner, it's your responsibility to ensure that your company has a health & safety policy that includes safety rules and emergency procedures as well as a plumbing method statement that describes the sequence of operations for a plumbing job with a focus on safety and mitigating risk.
It’s also important to make workplace safety a priority by investing in plumber safety training.
Consider mandatory safety training and obtain feedback from your team on plumbing safety meeting topics. That way, everyone is on the same page about current precautions and protocols, and knows safety ranks as a top priority for your company.
Plumber techs need to stay up-to-date on their skills, through continued education and on-site work experience. As discussed in tip #1, they should also possess proper safety gear and equipment to do their job correctly.
Sometimes, a plumber discovers an environmental hazard, such as mold growth, and must alert a homeowner of the health hazard. It’s imperative they follow safety protocol when tackling those kinds of serious problems.
For any company working in the trades, an investment in your employees pays off.
“It has been the continual investment in our people that has really been the driving force behind our growth,” Peterman says.
Download our free guide on how to ensure your techs are following best practices here.
Tip #4: Protect Your Business with Insurance
Plan and protect for the unknown
Follow best practice procedures
While you can attempt to mitigate as many hazards as possible, plumbing insurance protects your company in unforeseen circumstances.
General liability insurance protects your company in case your work causes property damage or bodily injury to customers. Commercial vehicle insurance covers auto accidents while coming to or from a job and theft from work vans, while property insurance covers the office and everything stored within it.
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Many states require workers' compensation insurance, which ensures your injured employees get medical care and compensation for lost wages if they are injured on the job. It also usually protects a company from lawsuits, and extends the same protection to your customers.
Read our post on how to protect your plumbing business with insurance here.
In addition to the general plumbing safety tips above, using a plumbing software (like ServiceTitan) helps you run your plumbing business more efficiently and minimize any safety issues.
Here’s how it works.
How ServiceTitan Software Helps You Run Your Plumbing Business Efficiently and Safely
Tip #5: Prepare for Jobs in Advance to Maximize Efficiency
Communicate complete job information
Ensure your techs are prepared
Having all pertinent information for each job (including any specialized tools) gives techs valuable knowledge to help them arrive prepared. Oftentimes, the plumber will know how to fix the plumbing issue before they even get to the job.
ServiceTitan’s cloud-based plumbing software stores all customer information in one place, so you can pull together all the relevant details of the job. As soon as the phone rings, our call booking feature automatically shows the CSR if the caller is a new or existing customer and guides them through the booking process so all the necessary details can be collected.
If the caller is an existing customer, all their information (such as job and technician history) can be accessed without keeping the customer waiting or risking important details being lost in paper files.
With ServiceTitan, you can store notes with customer records. For example, you can log the gate code for their property or note that extra care needs to be taken around their pet dog, or that a specialized tool is required. This not only helps keep your staff and the property secure, but it also improves customer service in the process.
Preparing as much as possible beforehand — including knowledge of local building codes, licensing, and other local regulations — helps plumbers complete a job safely and more efficiently.
Read more on booking plumbing jobs in this post.
Tip #6: Dispatch the Right Tech to the Right Job
Match tech skills to jobs
Track techs with GPS
Matching the right tech to the right job minimizes the risk of staff attempting a job beyond their skill set and potentially putting the safety of themselves and customers at risk.
ServiceTitan's dispatch software helps you dispatch the right tech to each job. Dispatchers can immediately see the skills required for a job and identify the right plumber for the task.
Our drag-and-drop service scheduling software allows your company to assign jobs based on tech skills, so you can match highly experienced techs to the most profitable jobs and assign them tasks that pose the most safety risks.
Color-coded tags make it easy to see which technicians are scheduled for what job, while live GPS tracking shows the precise location of every truck. This means that dispatchers can group jobs by proximity and utilize the most efficient route, and staff are accounted for at all times.
If your company dispatches techs from home, ServiceTitan’s route optimization lets you assign work orders based on their location so journeys take less time and fuel costs are minimized. It also means you can reduce unnecessary drive time on hazardous roads.
GPS tracking benefits customers, too. Dispatchers can text customers the technician’s photo and profile, so they know who’s en route. They can also give customers a tech-tracker map, so they know the technican’s location and ETA.
Tip #7: Create Checklists to Minimize Errors
Refer to safety data sheets
If you’re a plumbing business owner, you should use safety data sheets to keep a record of any chemicals and hazardous materials being used and what PPE your techs should use to handle them. These should be made available to all your staff (in tool bags and vans).
Using ServiceTitan’s custom forms feature to create maintenance checklists will also help keep staff and customers safe. These can be created and customized for techs to refer to when out on service visits.
For example, for a plumbing maintenance job of assessing a bathroom, the checklist could ensure that techs perform a thorough check-up, grading all the necessary elements, such as:
Shower heads and fixtures
Shower and bathtub drains
Sink faucets and fixtures
Toilet inspection (checking for clogs, limescale buildup, etc.)
These forms can be used to ensure the right steps are taken at every stage of a job, and plumbing business owners can require techs to complete them to close out a job. Not only do these forms minimize the risk of missing important steps, but they also provide crucial documentation of each job should an issue arise.
Read more and download our free plumbing inspection checklist template.
Tip #8: Streamline Communication Between Office and Techs
Use cloud-based mobile software
Keep techs up-to-date at all times
Use task management tools
Because ServiceTitan’s plumbing software is cloud-based, it stores all your customer and job information in one place so it can be accessed by office staff (via our desktop app) and by field technicians (via our mobile app).
Plumbing techs always have the complete and most up-to-date information for each job, including:
Customer details (contact information, address, and any notes)
Any call recordings with the customer
Detailed job histories (including prior invoices, photos, and voice notes)
Using their mobile tablet, techs can access customized forms as well as plumbing pricebooks so they can build estimates on the spot (including photos, manufacturer videos, and the latest product information), check warranty details, and order parts.
Giving plumbing technicians instant mobile access to all the information they need for each job improves communication between the team — whether they're out in the field or at the office. This minimizes the risk of forgetting important elements for the job, which could ultimately impact safety.
Read more on how to keep your workforce’s phones and tablets secure.
Using a task management tool also helps optimize communication between staff. ServiceTitan’s Task Management feature lets your entire team create, manage, and track all tasks relating to a plumbing job so everything stays in one place.
With ServiceTitan, you can create tasks directly from the specific job page, set priority levels and due dates, alert team members of new tasks or updates, and more.
Tip #9: Track Performance to Spot Safety Issues
Track and analyze KPIs
Adjust for growth
Track the progress of your company using an integrated software platform like ServiceTitan, so you can easily oversee each plumber’s habits or routines, monitor performance, and make business decisions accordingly.
ServiceTitan’s field reporting software lets you view and analyze key performance indicators such as generated revenue, memberships sold, and more. These metrics will show you if a particular plumber tends to rush through jobs or if they make multiple visits to fix one problem. If that’s the case, there’s likely an underlying safety risk.
“I have real, live data, right in front of me,” says Ben Davis, CEO of Express Plumbing Service in Boise, Idaho. “It’s almost a breathing, living thing. It tells you if you’re successful or not, or if one of your technicians is successful or not — what’s his close rate, what’s his average ticket.”
Analyzing real-time data enables you to gauge your company's progress and make adjustments for optimal growth. Overworked, exhausted plumbers tend to make for unsafe situations. Keep tabs on their workloads and strategically grow your workforce as your company profit grows.
Read more on how to grow your plumbing business.
Ready to Try ServiceTitan Software to Organize Your Plumbing Business?
We’ve outlined our top tips to help keep your plumbing techs and customers safe when plumbing work is carried out. But, if you want to organize your plumbing business so that your techs and business processes work more efficiently, then using business software, like ServiceTitan, can help you do this, and improve your safety record.
ServiceTitan’s plumbing software helps you streamline your business operations so that you can dispatch the right technician to the right job. Your techs are always prepared for jobs in advance, with technology and processes in place to ensure plumbing work is delivered efficiently and safely.
ServiceTitan Plumbing Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.