Wastewater plant safety is important. It’s no secret that wastewater treatment plants are among the most hazardous places to work. That’s because workers are commonly exposed to risks associated with heavy equipment, as well as exposure to toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials. Every day, wastewater plant workers face occupational risks. Work-related afflictions vary from minor injuries like sprained ankles and pulled muscles to more serious ailments like lung infections, blindness, and even death. The consequences of inaction or negligence in wastewater management facilities can be severe.
Faced with these harsh realities, it is critical for wastewater treatment plant managers to implement a thorough and consistent strategy to promote and maintain safety. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This adage is especially relevant in industrial settings.
Here are a few key elements to consider when implementing a compliant safety program at your wastewater facility:
- Develop a response plan that takes into account all types of in-plant risk. This includes, but is not imited to: exposure to chemicals, disease and weather events such as tornadoes; handling, transportation, and storage of materials; falls, slips, and other injuries; overflows and spills. Development of log-out and tag-out procedures would fall under your response plan as well.
- Put a comprehensive plan in place which calls for documenting all procedures in every situation. Each step should be detailed in chronological order, and address the “who, what, where, when, and how” factors to ensure there are no questions left unanswered.
- Employees must be aware of the safety plan and properly trained. In addition to these criteria, the plan should be practiced on a consistent basis. Policies and procedures should be regularly reviewed in detail. Don’t forget to introduce newly hired employees to the plan.
- Visibility is key. Post response plan procedures in public areas of the facility so that the information is easily accessible and a constant reminder.
- Conduct drills on a regular basis. This will help keep the information fresh.
- Make sure employees have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for all areas of the plant, including the lab. OSHA has laid out extensive PPE standards that must be followed.
- Encourage visitors to follow all safety procedures. Know that they may not be familiar with safety procedures or even aware of the potential hazards. To that end, a brief discussion of the basics will suffice. Make sure visitors are always escorted by a qualified employee during the visit.
- Assign one person to take charge of executing the safety program. This ensures that there is no question about who is responsible. Then create safety teams across all shifts to encourage ownership of the safety initiative.
- Familiarize yourself with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines; specifically, NFPA 820. This relates to requirements for ventilation, construction materials, electrical equipment, fire protection, and administrative controls.
- Bring in consultants. This might not seem like a good use of money initially, but consider the risks against the rewards. When your internal message is coupled with an external one, it can carry more weight. It’s far more expensive to clean up a toxic mess, than to prevent it in the first place. In addition, experts in the field of industrial safety can bring new ideas and best practices to you that will pay off when crises are averted.
- Stay current on best practices. Managers and other stakeholders should regularly attend seminars and conferences devoted to facility safety and compliance to sharpen their knowledge. As they say, knowledge is power!
- Embrace technology. Scadata’s software suite helps control and monitor pump and flow. There are a number of advantages to having a SCADA system installed. With SCADA, you have the ability to significantly reduce operating costs, while improving system performance and reliability. There’s no need to frantically drive around town in the middle of the night, as our system allows users to actively monitor equipment remotely from a computer or smartphone. Our technology also makes it possible to easily access reports that can be downloaded day or night. The best part: Our solutions deliver the lowest cost of ownership by protecting your existing infrastructure and providing seamless integration with new and evolving technology standards. Get to know Scadata today.
There’s no arguing that a well-executed safety program can reduce the potential for injury and death at your wastewater management facility. You will also see the benefits reflected in your workers. Safe and compliant facilities are known to have healthier and happier employees, thus reducing turnover, absences, and insurance claims. These benefits can be quantified. Put simply, it pays to invest in a plant safety and compliance program. Check here for more tips on wastewater plant safety.