Sprinkler fitter injuries on the job occur in single traumatic accidents or from sprinkler installer job duties over time. Sprinkler fitter job duties include installing automatic fire sprinkler systems in new construction and retrofitting systems in existing buildings in all types of construction, mostly commercial, using valves, hangers, steel and plastic pipe. They lay out, assemble, install, and maintain pipe systems, pipe supports, and related hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for steam, hot water, heating, cooling, lubricating, sprinkling, and industrial production and processing systems.
A sprinkler fitter’s job is very physical and can result in work-related back or work-related neck injuries, giving rise to sprinkler fitter workers compensation claims. Neck or cervical injuries are common given the overhead work involved. Sprinkler installers job duties are uniquely damaging to the spine given the nature of their work as outlined by the Wisconsin DWD:
• Overhead pipe installation, including: steel overhead sprinkler piping, wet, dry, pre-action and deluge, standpipe and hose systems.
• Install residential systems, including: CPVC residential pipe and copper residential pipe installation.
• Install and service underground pipe including: private service fire mains, hydrants, pits and underground control valves.
• Install and service valves, devices and trim for system risers, alarm valves, dry pipe valves, pre action and deluge valves, backflow prevention devices, sprinkler system alarms.
• Fabricating, assembling, installing and maintaining piping, fixtures and equipment for gas, steam, hot water, fire sprinkler system or oil heating, cooling, lubricating and industrial processing systems.
• Inspects installation of equipment such as lockers, heating and air conditioning units and lavatory facilities to ensure standard requirements.
• Cut, thread, and hammer pipe to specifications, using tools such as saws, cutting torches, and pipe threaders and benders.
• Attach pipes to walls, structures and fixtures, such as radiators or tanks, using brackets, clamps, tools or welding equipment.
• Cut and bore holes in structures, such as bulkheads, decks, walls, and mains, prior to pipe installation, using hand and power tools.
• Modify, clean, and maintain pipe systems, units, fittings, and related machines and equipment using hand and power tools.
Most work is at the ceiling level using ladders and lift platforms with the neck hyperextended for considerable time. The work is performed at varying degrees of height indoors between the roofs and ceilings of buildings or outside installing underground pipe work in a variety of weather conditions. Work requires physical stamina with considerable climbing, bending and carrying heavy pieces of pipe while working in elements ranging from hot boiler rooms to unheated open buildings.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has represented many workers with sprinkler fitter injuries over the years for workers compensation benefits and supports organized labor including Sprinkler Fitters Local 183.