Something we don't talk about much in this field is the dangers we face on site, from outside influence. Whether it's working in strangers homes, or high crime areas, late nights onsite when everyone else has long since gone home to their families, or even just poor locations where residents rely on theft to feed their families; HVAC is a dangerous profession.
It's bad enough that at any given moment we could be electrocuted, fall off a roof or ladder, get caught in a fan blade (and this doesn't even scratch the surface of our work risks) but to add insult to injury, there are actually people out there who mean us harm.
For instance, I recently stumbled upon an article about a pair of service techs who were gunned down outside a home last year in Rock Hill. The perpetrator came upon them with a gun, and then entered the home and murdered the customer and their family before ultimately killing himself. Both techs tragically died, leaving behind wives and 6 children between them.
In a perfect world, this would never happen. This is, however, not a perfect world and we need to be ready for anything. The second article I came across was about a company called AC Mechanical and Engineering out of Wheat Ridge, Colorado. After years of working in crime-torn, downtown Denver, this company made the bold decision to refuse service to the area! Tony Cirbo, operations manager for the company said to CBS news, "Its not really worth it to put up with it.."
"We made a decision as a company not to do any work downtown... The technicians were tired of stepping over needles, human feces, vans getting broken into etc." Adding that the thieves in downtown Denver would steal "anything that's not locked down"
These stories and more compelled me to write this blog today, to remind my HVAC brethren, that safety risks cant always be avoided by following Osha guidelines, and wearing our PPE.
Be aware of your surroundings, remain vigilant at all times. Be sure to make note of suspicious vehicles, and people. Never work alone after dark or in high crime areas, and business owners... PROTECT YOUR CREWS! Im sure it was a tough decision that AC Mechanical and Engineering made, but no amount of money is worth the life of an employee, feel free to use your sound judgement and refuse work not only in bad locations, but in homes that make you feel uneasy. Workers, SPEAK UP WHEN YOUR GUT TELLS YOU NO!
We will always choose the risks that come with this job, because no one ever chose HVAC just for the money. We love this profession, and will continue to show up every day and face those dangers for the love of the trade. Just remember that no job is worth your life.
Eyes open my friends, stay vigilant, and be safe out there.