A Health and Safety Guide for Plumbers (in Australia)

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Team Kiri Align
27th Aug 2021

As a plumber, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are always working in a safe environment. There are many risks of injury when repairing plumbing lines and fittings. If you do not take the necessary precautions, accidents can happen. This blog post will provide tips on how to work safely as a plumber in Australia. Being good at your job requires more than just skill to thrive. It requires staying safe and healthy. It’s also about being safe and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the process. 

In Australia, the number of injuries among plumbers should get your attention. From Sydney to Perth, plumbers in Australia are at risk of injury every day. According to SafeWork Australia Construction Industry Profile, Plumbing has the second highest number of serious workers’ compensation claims in the construction industry - which in itself is above the national average. Additionally, workers fatalities due to plumbing activities is among the top 10 in the industry according to the same report. To remain safe and healthy in the workplace, there is need to understand one major basic about working in an environment:

Even though it is difficult to predict the dangers that lie ahead, there are some general practices and precautionary measures one can take to ensure safety. This is why we’ve created this guide to help plumbers stay safe and healthy while at work.

A Health and Safety Guide for Plumbers (in Australia)

Basic Rules of Safety for Plumbers

As far as the matter of health and safety goes, there are certain rules that you need to know. 

What the Australian Law Says

The Workplace Health and Safety Act of 2011 establishes the rights for all workers in Australia when it comes to health and safety. This Act states that employers must provide a safe, healthy work environment for their employees, while at the same time giving the employees the right to refuse unsafe work. It also establishes that employers must also provide information and training in relation to health and safety matters, which are necessary for the employees’ protection so that they can perform their work in a safe and healthy manner.

Additionally, employers must also establish procedures for the safe handling of emergency situations to ensure that all workers are provided with assistance if they are in need of it. Furthermore, employers must also provide all necessary protective equipment to workers who need it so that they can carry out their duties without exposing themselves to health and safety hazards.

Employers must also take all necessary precautions to protect any person not employed by them who may be affected by the work or by any of the work’s inherent dangers. Workers in turn, must take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others while performing duties at the place where they work. Workers who have been provided with protective equipment must use it in a safe and a healthy manner.

What does this mean for plumbers? 

Employers should also inform plumbers about health and safety matters which are relevant to their work, so that they can carry out their duties in a safe manner.

Elements of On-the-Job Safety Program for Plumbers

Some key elements of on-the-job safety for plumbers in Australia are:

WHS Policy and Procedures

A health and safety program without a written WHS policy and procedure is incomplete. It is important for plumbers to have a documented set of procedures in place that establish responsibilities and procedures for safety, health and the environment. For instance:  

A plumber must ensure that all tools and equipment are clean and in good working order at the beginning of a shift. The WHS Policy should be in writing to ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

There is no point beating about the bush: health and safety hazards are part of the plumber’s workspace. Plumbers work with water, electricity or other potentially hazardous materials/chemicals. It is imperative that you wear the correct PPE to protect yourself from these hazards. This includes rubber gloves and boots, goggles to protect the eyes from flying debris, and dust masks to protect the nose and mouth from dust. 

Takeaway: Plumbers should be well equipped with the necessary PPE to protect themselves from hazards.

Plumbing tools

A surgeon won't operate with the wrong instrument, so why should a plumber? A set of quality tools will ensure safe and effective plumbing and avoid unnecessary risks while also helping to save time and money in the long run. These tools include pipe wrenches, screwdrivers and other basic hand tools. In addition to having the right tools, they need to be in top working order. There's no point going to work with a faulty wrench and risk injury.

Point to note: A plumber’s tools are their livelihood, so they should be looked after and maintained at the highest standard.

Safety training programs

It's often been said that "What you don't know won't kill you." Well, it might. If a plumber doesn't know or understand the safety risks, they can be exposed to these on-the-job hazards. Safety training programs are essential for plumbers to protect their lives, and the lives of others. Plumbers should have safety training programs in place to help them become aware of hazards. These programs may also cover procedures for emergency situations, first aid, and the use of safety equipment. 

Keep the following in mind:

Job Safety Analysis (JSA)  

In order to find and fix hazards, a JSA is an important part of on-the-job safety. Job Safety Analysis is a systematic way of identifying and assessing hazards inherent in completing a job task then developing controls to eliminate or control hazards. For example in plumbing, a JSA may involve identifying risks associated with working around water, then determining the best way to work safely (such as using a containment system).


Do you have a JSA in place? If not, please create one as soon as possible and do the following: 

Safety Inspections

A plumber's health and safety program should include regular inspection of work sites, tools and equipment. Regular safety inspections will help to identify hazards and fix them before people are injured. Part of the reasons why inspections are so important is because the plumber may not be aware of hazards, or they may become complacent after a period. Safety inspections should be carried out by qualified persons and records should be kept for reference purposes. In most cases, inspection schedules can be set up to monitor the progress of corrective actions.

First Aid

First Aid is a critical knowledge for a plumber to have. It's better to be safe than sorry, so it's important that plumbers know what to do in an emergency. The goal of first aid is to stabilize and maintain life until help arrives.

Following points are the basics of what a plumber should know:

A plumber should also be able to deal with common emergencies, such as someone suffering from chemical burns. A plumber’s first aid kit can come in handy for these emergencies. It should be stocked with the following items: 

In large organisations, a first aid officer may be in charge of ensuring all staff are trained on first aid and have access to the appropriate equipment.

Accident Investigation and Reporting

Safety is an on-going process and a plumber’s accident investigation is an important part of the process. The aim is to find out what went wrong, why it happened, and what can be done to avoid similar accidents in the future. It is important that every accident is documented and reported so that it can be prevented in future. 

One way to do this is by filling out a report form. This should include the date, location and time of accident as well as a description of the accident. It should also include information about what happened, how it happened and who was involved. Issues that can contribute to accidents should also be included. It is important to take photographs of the accident site and any injuries that may have been caused by it, if possible. The final step is to work out the cause of the accident and any recommendations for how it can be prevented in future.

At this juncture, it is important to note that:

Documentation and Reviews

Every plumber needs to be aware of the importance of keeping records and maintaining proper documentation. The idea is that these documents will help them in the future. And when dealing with compliance, it's important to have records for reference. The following are the types of documents a plumber should be aware of: 

Inspection Reports:

Inspection reports are used to identify the condition of a building and its safety practices. They are typically filled out by qualified, trained experts who can spot issues that can lead to accidents.

Safety Reports or Incident Logs:

These are a way of recording when and where safety problems have occurred so they're not repeated.


Signage is required on-site that is compliant with legislation and safety regulations. Legislation should be followed to make sure the plumber follows strict guidelines. Documentation should be kept for as long as possible, to ensure that it is easily accessible when required. 


Reviews should be conducted at regular intervals. This would allow the plumber to take stock and make any changes if required. The plumber should also review all aspects of their work to make sure it's up to standard. The following is a list of areas that should be reviewed: 

Some Common Plumbing Hazards and Controls

There are some hazards that you need to be aware of as a plumber. Some of these are outlined below:

Fall from heights

Falling from a height is a very real and prevalent danger in the plumbing industry. This hazard is the highest cause of fatalities in the plumbing profession. It can be avoided by making sure that all work platforms are at a height that's appropriate for the work being done and are adequately secured.

Risk of slipping or tripping: 

Prevention of this hazard can be achieved by ensuring there's adequate lighting in the area and making sure that people are aware of wet or slippery surfaces. This can be achieved by installing non-slip flooring, providing good lighting and using appropriate signage to inform people of wet surfaces.

Injury from poor, damaged or inadequate equipment

This is a hazard that can be controlled by ensuring all equipment in use is maintained properly and regularly tested. The plumber should also ensure that all tools of the trade have all appropriate markings.

Improper handling of materials

This hazard can be avoided by ensuring that all hazardous or corrosive chemicals are stored appropriately and safely. Also the correct use of PPE.

Risk of electric shock

If you're working you need to be aware of the dangers electricity poses. These can include:

This hazard can be controlled by using appropriate safety equipment and having the right skills and experience.

Exposure to airborne hazardous material

This hazard can be avoided by taking the appropriate precautions, such as wearing a dust mask or respirator if there are particles in the air that could affect your health. The plumber should also wear appropriate clothing and protective equipment including gloves, goggles or a face shield to avoid exposure to hazardous materials.

Exposure to harmful materials and chemicals

This hazard can be avoided by following the appropriate safety guidelines. For example, if you are working on a project that involves hazardous materials or chemicals, you need to make sure that all the appropriate protective clothing and safety equipment is in place.

Exposure to infection 

This hazard can be prevented by following the appropriate first aid guidelines.

The plumber should also ensure that they wash their hands before and after work. Your hands could be a source of infection, so you need to make sure your skin is clean before touching anything or anyone else.

Risk of back Musculoskeletal injuries from manual work

It is important to be aware of any weight limitations for lifting heavy objects. It is also important to be aware of the risks associated with using your back as a lever when moving an object and that this should always be done slowly. The plumber needs to make sure that one is lifting heavy objects with the help of a partner, if possible. It is also a good idea to use appropriate equipment for lifting heavy objects and be aware of your limits.

Health and Safety in Special Plumbing Situations

Working in confined spaces

If you are working in a confined space, it is important to be aware of the hazards. These include:

The plumber should make sure that they are wearing appropriate protective equipment, such as a respirator.

Working with gas

If you are working with natural gas, it is important that you take precautions to avoid any hazards. These include:

The plumber should also make sure that they're up to date with the latest safety information.

Working with sewage

The plumber should:

Safety Tips for Plumbers

Invest in Technology  

Plumbers should embrace the use of technology in their work - it would save you from unnecessary injuries, ensure compliance and help you save money. For example, it’s a good idea to use WHS management software. Kiri Align is an example of a suitable software package that can help to keep track of WHS.

Stay up to date

It is important to keep up-to-date and educated on the latest safety information. For example, the plumber should be aware of any new regulations around working with natural or LP (liquid petroleum) gas. It is also important to stay up-to-date with any changes to legislation. For example, the introduction of new WHS laws through Workplace Health and Safety Amendment.

Stay protected with PPE

As a rule for plumbers - one should always make sure that he/she is wearing appropriate safety equipment, such as a respirator and gloves. A PPE checklist should be used to ensure that all bases are covered.

Keep everyone involved accountable for their actions

It is important to understand that everyone in the plumbing industry has a responsibility for safety. This would help to ensure that there are no distractions or hindering factors.

Encourage feedback and reviews

It can be helpful to get feedback on any new safety policies that the organisation is implementing. This would help to make sure it is working for you and not resulting in any unintended consequences.

Know your limits and get help when needed

It is important for you to know the limit before you are in the situation. It is also important to understand where and when it's safe to ask for help if you need it! If you are still not sure, get in touch or contact a professional.

Protect your Health and Safety with Kiri Align

The current state of health and safety can endanger both yourself and others, which is why it's important to protect your health and safety with Kiri Align. Kiri Align is a customisable, efficient, and easy-to-use workplace health and safety management system that helps you and your employees work safer, smarter, and more efficiently.

How a WHS management software like Kiri Align would benefit plumbers:

Being proactive about workplace safety and management with Kiri Align can help you reduce your risk in life and business, making it a more profitable and enjoyable place to work. Kiri Align is the most comprehensive, cost-effective way to manage your health and safety obligations for plumbers in Australia.

   Cut down the risk of accidents with Kiri Align today!

Published by: Kiri Align