dangerous

Dangerous Jobs

The home improvement industry is not very well understood by the average lay-person. Plumbing, wiring, pest control–the average home owner doesn’t understand the kind of work that is necessary to do these things correctly, without putting anybody at risk. That’s why professionals exist, to make sure the job is done safely and effectively. The danger involved in these jobs is often under-estimated by home owners who think they can do it for themselves, but a little education can go a long way.

Why We’re Asking:

Our experts have been around the block in their respective industries a number of times, and they know where the risks lie. The average home owner does not. Hopefully, by illuminating which aspects of the work are the most dangerous, and why, our experts can encourage homeowners to always seek help from a professional rather than attempting to do the work themselves and putting their families at risk. Home improvement is more dangerous than you might think, and nobody knows that better than our experts.

So tell us, experts:

What’s the most dangerous part of your job?

Have you ever had a close call on a job site?
What would a worst-case scenario for your job look like?
What aspects of your work should never be attempted by an untrained person?
What’s the biggest disaster you’ve ever heard of an untrained person getting themselves into?

Part of being a professional is knowing how to handle the risks of the industry. Let us know about the dangers you face on a regular basis below!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Mark Puglisi 09/03/13

    Life in general is dangerous, but in my profession the level of danger is always there when dealing with insects, wild animals and the equipment we use to provide our services. I have seen some horrific accidents in my day. I think the worst was a young technician back in the late 70’s (yes I’m that old) was sent out to take care of a bee hive in a client’s attic. He discovered a large bee hive in the attic and decided to use a very dangerous product, Cyano dust (made from cyanide) typically used to treat ground dwelling rodents. Cyano dust actually turns into a toxic gas. The tragedy was this technician was wearing a respirator designed for organic vapors, much like they use in automotive paint shops. The filters are not rated for gas, so when the tech applied the duct to the bee swarm using a bulb duster, the bees became immediately agitated and the current of the attic changed because hundreds of bees taking flight all at once sent the dust directly in the face of the tech and killed him in a matter of seconds. He left a 6 month old baby and wife behind.
    Pest control services can be very dangerous when labels are not followed. Homeowner’s should leave this job to the professionals. I have seen homeowners use a product that is designed to be mixed in water but just sprayed it out directly from the container at concentrations hundreds of times over the label rate.
    Many of the services we provide involve ladders, . bird exclusion, chimney caps (keep critters out) and of course bee hives. Personal safety is the most important aspect of most jobs, but we also have to make sure the very client we are working for stays safe before, during and after our work. Bees can become a hazard to people on the ground and should be aware of the work before it starts.
    Many times the hazards aren’t immediately know, such as wild animals. Our termite inspectors can contest to that. Crawling in attics and subareas performing termite inspections can often be met with wild animals such as skunks, rats, snakes, raccoons, opossums, cats, and bats. Not only is the live animal an issue, but their droppings can be even more dangerous. Many diseases are associated with animal droppings.
    Always use caution when taking on a new project, review the area you will be working in and take note of anything can be a potential safety issue. When in doubt, call a professional.

  • Greg Chick 09/03/13

    Ask any Fireman, Water Heaters are fire hazards, electric ones, as well as gas. Problems are not always obvious at installation time, loose wire nuts on electric water heaters and gas water heaters, either LPG or Natural gas. The two gases are so different that the wrong one installed can blow up an entire building along with any one in it. This is a silent killer and too often that the media does not say “Shocking news” or “Jen has twins” there is nothing media worthy of a house fire, and as a result media education is missing. Sometimes I suspect Home Centers ask news not to “front page” when DIY install kills someone , or local hardware store sells someone the wrong type water heater for a homeowner to install. This might not be good for the hardware stores advertising interests. Last year an attorney asked me some questions on gas water heaters and installation standards because a whole house blew up from a natural gas unit that was installed on LPG. The employee of a plumbing contractor asked over the phone if the unit needed was gas or electric, the customer said gas and the employee was used to natural gas and the rest was felt blocks away when it blew up the same day of install. No story in the paper nor any media coverage. Plumbing is expected to be safe and not glorious, neither when safe, nor when it is deadly, there isn’t media interest. People just do not understand the deadly odorless gasses in a sewer pipe either.

    In mexico years ago whole streets along with buildings , people and cars blew up from a sewer gas build up below the street in the sewer pipe and a backfire of an old car set the explosion off and blocks of streets blew up in the city. Same with CO2 from incomplete combustion, last year a local tree trimmer and his friends died while sleeping. Death was caused from not understanding combustion air needs and heating a cold small room. People remodel houses and block off combustion air for gas appliances or allow negative air pressure from a central heater return grill to pull CO2 back into the home, being odorless, no one knows till someone is dead. Hospitals usually do not report such as a crime, no media, no education.

  • Joseph Molluso 09/04/13

    There are occupational hazards involved with every job. From housekeeping to plumbing, every worker risk their fingers, toes, and lungs every day. It is important to keep these hazards in mind so we can wear personal protective equipment.
    One of the greatest hazards of the pest control industry is the inhalation of dusts, chemicals, and animal excrement. Many pest control technicians risk their health on a daily basis to improve the quality of yours.

  • Sylvan Tieger 09/04/13

    Coming behind some unskilled / non licensed contractor who worked on gas piping or fire suppression systems.

    Cross connections are a amjor problem where people connect a potable water system to a sewer pipe to try to clear a stoppage using a garden hose or look for gas leaks with an open flame

  • Michelle @ JMS Express Plumbing 09/05/13

    In the plumbing industry there are few dangerous scenarios plumbers confront on a daily basis.
    One of the fears that plumbers appear to have when crawling under the house is earthquake or any other nature disaster.
    Also, when crawling under the house the technician might expect to see reptiles such as snails, snakes and other dangerous creatures.
    Some of our technicians will go under the house and will sew the pipes with torch which also can be dangerous since they are using dangerous tool.

    We are very cautious in our company, therefore we haven’t had any safety issues in the past. If we have someone new in the company we will make sure to train them. Each person that goes under a house is equipped with a flash light, hat and a full body suit. Not to mention gloves and good shoes.

    We never let an untrained employee under the house without the proper knowledge & equipment. There is always a potential for something bad to happen so the better prepared our plumbers are, the less likely something will go wrong. We have heard many stories of employees that weren’t trained & found themselves in a risky situation. Some were lucky while others ended up with bad injuries. It is best to leave those kind of jobs for expert technicians that have the knowledge, experience & expertise.

    Of course, there is nothing much to do when there is an earthquake and we have a plumber under the house. They need to try to crawl out as fast as they can and to find a safe place until the earthquake is over. Regarding reptiles creatures, plumbers have the right equipment to defend themselves in case they are in a dangerous situation. Plumbers need be trained to know how to use all their tools without any exceptions. Once they are trained, the chance of getting hurt is much less.

  • Marc @ MI Electric of Charlotte 09/08/13

    Electricians have many different types of job hazards. Besides the obvious ones of the dangers of electrocution, electricians are often working at very high altitudes. They have to not only be aware of the fall, but they also have to be very mindful of the fact that they are sometimes working on “live” or “energized” circuitry while they are up there. It is extremely important for them to be aware of what they are touching and how they are touching it. Many times they are unable to cut power off to what they are working on and have to complete their task without interrupting service to the customer. At the same time they have to be securing their position safely due to the height they are working. Getting hit with an electrical “jolt” can easily cause a technician to lose his or her balance or grip. It makes for a very stressful and dangerous situation.

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