Safety, Efficiency Essential in Modern HVAC
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published January 31, 2020
Supply chain connectivity, new technology, equipment, and changing chemical requirements are just a few current pressure points in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry. From residential and commercial to industrial HVAC sectors, the result of progression is also reducing maintenance and operations costs. Industry leaders such as Rheem, Danfoss, and Whalen, are poising for growth in several key directions, including keeping up with growth and labor needs, according to an interview with ACHR News. It’s fair to say HVAC 4.0 is spinning rapidly, and maintaining safety and efficiency are key performance goals for sustaining business into the future.
Conditions for Growth
HVAC ranks among the most popular trades for its environmental changes and technological advances. Economists expect the global market for HVAC systems to reach $241.8 billion by 2025, according to a Yahoo! Finance report. Employment of HVAC technicians, mechanics, and installers is set to grow 21% by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That’s a faster rate than most other occupations.
“Although people in many professions are sweating over the fear of being replaced by robots and automated processes, it seems HVAC technicians don’t have much to be concerned about,” said Kevin Burns of Bob Jenson Air Conditioning in San Diego. “… HVAC technicians are still — and will continue to be — in high demand.”
While the HVAC industry is tackling its labor shortage by providing larger training opportunities and highlighting the benefits of learning a progressive trade to attract job seekers, there is still an increase in demand on the current workforce.
As cutting-edge as HVAC is becoming, it still has its share of dangers. In industrial HVAC, workers face some of the most unique challenges. Not all facilities are the same as well as each company’s need.
“You’ll see the most unique systems and applications that are custom made for a process or specific product that that facility is creating,” said Andrew Greaves, an HVAC professional for NAVAC and host of a popular HVAC channel on YouTube. “I get the satisfaction of keeping a process like this going that allows (a facility) to keep up with production and keeps their products coming out.” For efficiency, Greaves also said technicians shouldn’t rush and should complete jobs thoroughly and safely the first time to limit rework or accidents.
HVAC has one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. HVACR technicians face potential hazards that include electrical shock, burns, and muscle strains. Workers navigate through confined spaces, mold, harsh chemicals, and other hazardous substances, and risk slips, trips, and falls. Among the top 10 OSHA violations in 2019, HVAC technicians consistently face a lack of fall protection, lack of respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment for the eyes and face. They must also be mindful of various temperature hazards, such as extreme cold areas and high-pressure hazards from gas cylinders in hot environments. Cleaning liquids, detergents, solvents, and refrigerants, to name a few, can pose serious health risks if mishandled or improperly labeled.
Modern HVAC can use technology to reduce maintenance and operations costs by changing the maintenance process. However, HVAC technicians and the facilities in which they work each have a responsibility of safety, which reduces operating costs, improves compliance, prevents injuries and illnesses, and increases productivity. Avoid accidents with continuous training for safety and techniques on what tools and safety equipment to use.
Download our free OSHA Safety Signs guide for a useful resource on controlling electrical hazards and more.