As part of Moore McPhee's commitment to Industry Safety, we will regularly write an article focusing on a particular industry and what WHS means for that industry.
Our current Industry Focus is on Plumbing.
If you would like your industry to be the subject of one of our articles, please contact us.
The work of a Plumber can be dirty, hot, sweaty and sometimes dangerous. It is important for any Plumber, to have a safety system in place, whether they are working for a company, self-employed or as a contractor, to ensure that they are not put themselves or others at risk during their work.
Common hazards that Plumbers may encounter include:
One of the most common, and probably the biggest risk for plumbers, biohazardous waste, is any waste containing potentially infectious substances or microorganisms, such as faeces. Waste from household sewage can put a plumber at risk of coming into contact with mould, algae and bacteria.
It is important that workers know what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they should be wearing, and that they are wearing it at all times when it is needed. If you are interested in learning more about what PPE you should have, and when to use it, stay tuned for when we explore Personal Protective Equipment or PPE more in-depth in one of our other articles.
Flammable materials and gases
The nature of the job demands that Plumbers will be working with pipes, which may require the use of tools such as welders or blowtorches. Gases are divided into 3 divisions, Flammable gases, Non-flammable/Non-Toxic gases and Toxic gases, and tools that use them are labelled, so that you can identify whether the gas you are using is harmful or not. These tools use class 2 in dangerous goods.
Failure to perform the necessary checks and assessments or properly identify the equipment being used, and the hazards they can pose, a simple job can turn into a potentially disaster:
For more info on gases, other dangerous goods and the labels associated with them, see:
Working at heights or in confined spaces
Plumbers are required to periodically to work in very precarious places. It is important to make sure that the area is safe and properly prepared for before workers are sent in to complete a job.
Ensuring that work grounds are stable, and that workers are trained and equipped to work in potentially dangerous environments makes up part of the duty of care the employer has to their workers or themselves.
Working in tight spaces, may add to the hazards coming from your equipment or how you use them, such as loud equipment becoming increasingly more apparent in smaller areas or the carrying of equipment being much harder and more cumbersome. These Codes of Practice can give you some insight on these additional hazards
Although not specifically worked on by plumbers, they need to be aware of the dangers associated with electricity, especially considering how the potential combination of electricity with water and metal piping.
A combination of PPE and risk assessments are required to ensure that the area being worked in is adequately isolated from electrical currents.
More information on managing hazards associated with plumbing can be found in the Codes of Practice found on the SafeWork Australia website:
As part of Moore McPhee’s commitment to regularly publish articles that contribute to small business work health and safety, every quarter we choose an industry to spotlight for our Industry Focus. In these articles, we explain how work health and safety relates specifically to this industry and discuss any particular needs of that industry. If you would like your industry to be covered as part of this series, please contact us.
Moore McPhee WHS Consultants specialise in the needs of small and medium businesses. We are here to help and can provide cost effective solutions for your business. Contact us on 1300 362 351, or speak directly to our Senior Principal Consultant Vanessa Moore on 0401 382 083 or at for a confidential discussion about your particular work health and safety needs.
Disclaimer: Any advice and information in this article is general in nature, does not take into account particular circumstances and should not be construed as professional advice. Unless specifically stated otherwise, the information in this article is prepared for South Australian Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking as defined in the SA Work Health and Safety Act 2012 only. The information may be applicable to other states of Australia that have adopted the harmonised work health and safety legislation but is not guaranteed.