HVAC technicians were determined to be essential workers by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the beginning of the pandemic. As the summer heated up in 2020, HVAC professionals played an important role in keeping people comfortable, safe and healthy while staying at home, especially during heat waves.
Why HVAC Techs Are Essential Workers
HVAC technicians and refrigeration technicians are essential workers. This means they have a responsibility to maintain a normal work schedule.
Keeping air conditioning and refrigeration technology working can be crucial during extremely hot weather, in both residential and commercial use. HVAC techs are often tasked with maintaining, servicing and repairing HVAC equipment as quickly as possible.
Here are some of the ways HVAC professionals can play an essential role in keeping people healthy and key infrastructure operating even during a pandemic in the summer:
Protecting the Elderly
During the hot summer months, air conditioning and refrigeration not only help keep people cool and comfortable, but may also help prevent negative health complications, especially in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. Seniors are more at risk for serious complications during heat waves and remaining inside air-conditioned buildings is one way to prevent dehydration and overheating.
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Maintaining Medical Operations
When it comes to places like hospitals and nursing homes, it can be a matter of safety and health to keep air conditioning and refrigeration working properly. In the healthcare sector, proper refrigeration is essential to preserving pharmaceutical products and medicine, especially vaccines.
Keeping Data Centers Running
HVAC plays a huge role in the information technology sector. Data centers may have hundreds or thousands of servers running at once, and these machines generate large amounts of heat. Keeping these servers cool through temperature regulation is considered an essential function of the HVAC industry. Humidity and air quality are other important factors. In short, HVAC technicians are essential to keeping data centers—and the Internet—running properly!
Food Production and Distribution
Refrigeration is essential to preserving, transporting and distributing food. Keeping food refrigerated after it is harvested slows the growth of bacteria, which may grow in warm temperatures. HVAC technicians are essential to the food industry to prevent foodborne illnesses from spreading due to high heat.
Work and Productivity
According to a study conducted by Harvard’s School of Public Health, a lack of air conditioning during hot weather may affect healthy people’s ability to perform well intellectually. High indoor temperatures could impair cognitive functioning, including reaction times and working memory.1
How HVAC Workers Are Protecting Themselves
Air conditioning and refrigeration are important in so many facets of modern society. Many companies that provide logistics operations for wholesale and retail industries, including heating and cooling services, are considered essential. So too are their employees.
Technicians may have a basic understanding of safety from their HVAC training, but now many are having to learn how to protect themselves from an entirely different kind of threat: COVID-19. Here’s how some HVAC companies are helping their employees prevent the spread of the virus even while performing essential work:
- Wearing gloves
- Washing hands in between jobs
- Wearing masks
- Keeping hand sanitizers nearby
- Maintaining six feet of physical distance
- Disinfecting equipment between each job
- Accepting touchless payment transactions
- Working remotely when possible
- Refusing service if customers are sick2,3
HVAC Techs Considered Essential to Society
HVAC workers are some of society’s most essential workers. What would we do without HVAC techs? HVAC workers may service residential, commercial and industrial buildings, everything from nursing homes to data centers to hospitals and laboratories. Once considered a luxury, the technology of cooling is now vital for many different businesses.