My hand cream nearly flooded a laboratory


This post has been written in collaboration with Vaseline Australia

Plumbing work is hard on the hands. They can get covered in filth which thankfully can be washed away, but it’s the repetitive nature of plumbing work that causes the most damage. Callouses, burn scars and dry skin are key traits of a plumber’s hands.

The time my hands received the most harm was from laying concrete over a drainage site at Goodna. I can’t remember why I wasn’t wearing gloves or why I decided to use my hand as the trowel, but I did and my hands that night at home were in a shocking state. The lime in the concrete basically burned my hands and they were very dry.

That night at home I constantly rubbed Vaseline Hand Cream into my hands and topped it with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to keep the moisture in. Vaseline Australia was what kept my hands in good shape as a plumber. I still keep some with me in my baby bag.

The next day I was scheduled to do some maintenance jobs with Dad. In between jobs, after cleaning my hands with sanitizer, I would rub in some hand cream.

The third job for the day, dad and I had to disconnect a laboratory at Griffith University. I filled our bucket with the necessary brass caps for the different water lines. As dad disconnected each water line from the taps, I would hand over the taped union and brass cap.

On one of the water lines, the ball valve which had been turned off, was faulty which meant water was running through the line as dad unscrewed a hose attached to this line. Water gushed out everywhere and the ¾ inch union and cap that I handed dad wasn’t the right size.

In a panic dad butted his thumb over the opening but yelled at me to find a 25mm cap that he had chucked into the bucket ‘just in case’ we needed it.

The problem was the cap was attached to another fitting which we didn’t need and my hands were slippery from the water that had splashed on my hands. Water and hand cream don’t mix well!

My hands kept slipping down the multi-grips as I attempted to unscrew the cap. Dad’s hand kept flying off the water opening because of the pressure inside the pipe and the builder just stood and watched as I struggled.

I was so embarrassed by my clumsiness and didn’t have time to explain why I couldn’t do the most basic of tasks. In the end I had to ask the builder watching me to undo the cap from the fitting because my hands were too slippery from my cream laden hands.

The fitting was unscrewed and the cap was given to dad. The hardest part was getting the cap screwed onto the gushing line because the pressure was pretty intense. We went through all our towels to mop up the water. Thankfully the laboratory was getting refurbished so any water damage to the walls wasn’t a big deal.

I learned two lessons as an apprentice that week. Always wear gloves when pouring and smoothing concrete and never to use hand cream until all plumbing jobs were finished for the day. My hand cream nearly flooded a laboratory! Thankfully I learned this lesson on a refurb job because people’s homes aren’t so forgiving.

Do you suffer from dry hands? Ever experienced a mishap because you couldn’t perform the most basic of tasks ?

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This is post has been written in accordance to my disclosure policy.