Water Damage Safety  


One of the first things a technician must deal with, when arriving on a job, is water damage safety issues. According to the S500 IICRC Restoration Standard, people who are “at risk” – young, old, immunocomprimised  (sick) and pregnant women, possibly, should not be on a contaminated work site. Also, the personnel doing the work need to consider their own situation. This is often overlooked.                                                                                                                                                     If the technician, on the job, doesn’t feel qualified to decide or there is opposition, the final decision, to remove occupants, could be passed on to a “third party”. This could be a physician or other qualified professional.  


The S500 WRT Standard, lists Categories of water, on a job. The three basic groups are: 

Category 1 – A clean source that is still relatively clean after contacting structural material. It, probably, will not cause harm to people. (Wouldn’t drink it!)  

Category 2Sources that are questionable in cleanliness but may not be totally pathogenic. This could come from dish washers, clothes washers, large fish tanks, etc. Time can turn a category 1 to a 2 or 3, if not cleaned up soon enough. Bacteria and mold grow when wet.  

Category 3 – Water from outside or the sewer or allowed to sit long enough to grow enough bacteria and mold to be pathogenic. (Disease causing)   

Category 3 has definite guidelines for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) prompting technicians to wear total protective gear. The category, that can be dangerous, for a tech, is category 2. Micro-organisms present in a category 2, on its way to be a 3 have the potential to cause health issues, but the technician may not deem PPE necessary…….”It’s not that bad”.    

Rubber gloves and rubber boots should be worn on every category of job to ensure, basic, safe procedures. Rogue bacteria can be present in any moisture, in any structure; even a category 1.

People with bacterial or viral infections, sometimes, are a mystery to the hospital.  They’ve never seen this! No technician should become one of those.

Removing rubber gloves, without leaving bacteria on the hands, by improper removal, should be considered as well as not touching the face until hands are washed.    

The number one cause of death and injury in the home, under normal conditions is slip and fall. Imagine the potential for a tumble when everything is wet! It’s the duty of the technician, on the job to promote water damage safety. Let the customer know about slippery surfaces; it’s probably their 1st flood and they are not thinking about it. Technicians, who know about the problem, have been known to fall!

Attention should be paid to a technician’s ability to endure the stress put on their respiratory system by wearing a respirator. It may require a visit to a Doctor, to determine that this person can endure the stress of breathing through a piece of equipment making it harder to get air.

This does not cover all water damage safety issues on a job. An attitude of “self preservation” should be encouraged.


                          MAKE MONEY




                          Dennis Klager
                   IICRC Instructor






Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager