There’s hardly a profession or job that doesn’t have its risks to a worker’s health and safety. And each poses a set of unique set of hazards that, if not prepared for, can cause serious injury or even death.
Conducting moisture surveys during home inspections and flood damage restoration are no exceptions.
Moisture can create serious issues within a space that goes beyond damage to building materials and property. And the spaces in which moisture readings are taken are not without their hazards, too.
Being mindful of the common obstacles to health and safety during moisture testing helps you work efficiently with no major issues.
Locating areas of concern and taking moisture meter readings isn’t always a risk-free venture.
To the untrained eye, a space affected may seem perfectly safe. In reality, there's a good chance it isn't.
The damage moisture does to a space isn't always immediately apparent, nor are some of the health and safety hazards it creates. A punky floorboard that's easily stepped through doesn't make itself obvious until the damage is done. The same goes for navigating other elements of completing a moisture survey that are simply part of the job -- what may seem normal might actually be a safety threat.
When conducting a moisture survey, there are several health and safety hazards to be mindful of, including:
Sometimes taking moisture meter readings requires going up high to access out-of-reach areas (think: a roof leak that's caused damage to a cathedral ceiling or that overflowed tub on a second story) While ladders are part of everyday life as an inspector, they aren’t without their risks.
Work-related injuries from ladder falls have remained on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s top 10 most-cited violations for the last decade. It’s estimated more than 100,000 people are injured by falling off a ladder each year.
Among the most common causes of ladder-related injuries are:
Did you know our ReachMaster Pro makes getting on a ladder to take moisture readings much safer?
Find out more about the only non-invasive moisture meter on an extendable handle:
Sometimes taking a moisture reading requires navigating around large objects that, by appearances, seem stable. When bumped or moved, heavy objects -- such as a shelving unit that’s not fastened down or a stack of boxes -- can fall over and injure those in the way.
It’s estimated falling objects cause more than 50,000 workplace injuries annually. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 241 fatalities caused by falling objects.
You may think of confined spaces as a utility tunnel or a giant tank on an industrial site. In reality, confined spaces are present on almost every property -- a home’s crawlspace basement or partial attic is considered a confined space.
Taking moisture readings in a confined spaces gets tiring after a short time. You’re often forced to crouch or crawl once inside, causing muscle strain and fatigue. Not to mention, working in a confined space is time-consuming. The longer a person works in a confined space, the harder it becomes to actually complete work.
But the greatest danger of working in a confined space is the presence of hazardous air. In enclosed, poorly-ventilated spaces, moisture-related airborne pathogens may be present, posing a serious health risk.
If there’s one thing molds love, it’s moisture. In fact, they thrive in it. That’s why during home restoration inspections and building surveys, it’s not uncommon to find Stachybotrys (black mold) or Alternaria in damp areas. They're especially present in buildings with flood damage.
If inhaled, mold spores can cause irritation to the lungs and throat resulting in coughing, sneezing and even asthma attacks. Long-term exposure to mold spores can also lead to more serious diseases such as lung infections or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, some types of molds have been linked to cancer risk.
Where there’s a moisture issue, there’s also a chance for exposure to stagnant -- or standing -- water.
Left sitting for long periods of time, untreated stagnant water may harbor dangerous biofilms, which are habitats for dangerous diseases and pathogens such as:
Just like with mold, exposure to stagnant water pathogens can lead to a host of health issues, including life-threatening skin infections, liver and lung infections, fever, or headaches.
When encountering standing water during a moisture survey, the best practice is to stay as far away as possible and thoroughly disinfect objects that come in contact with it.
As in any profession, the best way to stay safe while on the job is to be aware of the hazards you may encounter. Knowledge is power.
To avoid health and safety risks during a moisture survey, always remember to:
Beyond basic health and safety best practices, the next best thing to experiencing an avoidable health or safety mishap is using the equipment and tools that keep you safe. A moisture meter that’s designed to work with the user allows you to work efficiently without compromising safety.
A professional moisture meter allows the user to take measurements quickly and accurately. When in a tough spot or potentially hazardous situation, the less time spent there, the better. What better than that? Not having to go back a second time to take even more readings.
There's a lot of truth to the adage "safety first," especially in moisture surveys.
By staying mindful of the health and safety risks that come along with a job like moisture testing, you can easily avoid common mishaps and keep yourself safe while on the job. Armed with knowledge, you'll be ready to take on any moisture survey without worry. And with the right tools, you can complete a moisture job faster, safer and more accurately than ever before.
With its extendable handle that reaches up to 48” (112 cm), Protimeter’s ReachMaster Pro keeps almost completely keeps you off ladders or from over-reaching. Get yours today from one of our distributors!