Safe Airconditioning Installation

Gordon Harris is an auditor and contract investigator for the Plumbing Industry Commission. He has worked in the air conditioning installation industry for 46 years as a refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic, trainer, engineer and most recently, contract investigator. Here Gordon writes of his experience and recommendations for the safe installation of air conditioning units:

My passion for safety began when I was a refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic and an industrial accident left me partially paralysed for six months. Since then I have been a passionate advocate for the safety of installers, service personnel and end users. In my experience a lot of safety problems are caused because people don’t think about installation, maintenance or end-use. I have seen 100kg air conditioning compressors installed on laser light roofing which is not load rated to hold this weight. No thought went into the long-term durability of the unit, safety of the end-user or safety of maintenance personnel. Installers use cranes, hoists, lifters and other equipment to safely lift condensing units/compressors into position. However, installers need to think about future maintenance requirements because improperly positioned units can place servicing personnel at risk.

Under the 2008 Plumbing Regulations, equipment must be accessible for service and maintenance. If the Plumbing Industry Commission’s investigators consider maintenance access is unsafe, the investigators will issue rectification notices, and the person who signed the certificate of compliance will have to pay to fix the issues. It’s always more expensive to rectify than to do it safely in the first place. One recent Plumbing Industry Commission investigation of an air conditioning unit installed on a house resulted in a principal contractor being held responsible for rectification costing more than $100,000.

Tips for safe installation of air conditioning units are:

1. Put yourself in the shoes of the maintenance person. Position the unit so it’s easy to access for installation and future maintenance.

2. Think about what you are installing it on – make sure the surface is secure and can safely hold your weight and the weight of the equipment.

3. Think about how to get the equipment to the height you need including servicing equipment.

4. Think about how to securely fasten the unit to the base structure and be prepared for bad weather conditions. 5. Be safety conscious. Ensure you walk away from each job and so do future service personnel.


Please feel free to share any comments or experiences.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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