Safety on the job site is number one priority for companies and workers. It is always a good idea to educate all employees on safety regardless if they are new to the job or a veteran who has been there for more than 20 years. Safety regulations and guidelines change frequently so it is always best to be up to speed on the latest and greatest safety measures when it comes to sewer work.
The following can never be emphasized enough when working in and around manholes. Warning signs are particularly important. These should always be visible to passerby’s to notify them of the potential risks. There should be appropriate signage and fencing around the manhole during work. Although these signs and fencing are inherently important, they do not always stop people from wanting to take a peek at the work happening. Another key piece to the warning signs is to have a worker present outside the manhole in the instance someone inside needs assistance as well as to warn anyone who may pass by the site.
The use of appropriate personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to avoid exposure to dangerous contaminants is also critical. Workers can be exposed to a number of airborne and waterborne illnesses along with other problems. To ensure the best protection, be sure to use the right equipment and following general best practices. PPE can help ensure the four primary types of disease-causing organisms that can affect humans and are found in sewage are kept off of the human body and keep the worker free from scrapes, cuts, scratches and other bodily harm. Employers should be mindful about supplying the proper PPE, as well as enforcing the use of it.
Be careful not to cross-contaminate any clean areas when handling and disposing of sewer material. Standard hygiene practices should be given to all sewer workers by a qualified health and safety professional to cover the policies, procedures and risks. Gloves are some of the most common safety equipment that can be used to form a barrier between the skin and surfaces. Employees should also be warned about touching their nose, eyes, mouth, face or any open cuts or sores while working.
Outside of the common first aid kit onsite, there are a few more important safety pieces that should be considered. One piece of safety gear is a ventilation blower that can help supply fresh air to the manhole to ensure that the air inside stays safe for workers. General safety equipment should be properly maintained and inspected by the employer and a sufficient number of people should always be located outside the manhole to be able to respond quickly in the event of an accident. Some of the most common equipment used to respond to emergency situations and to promote overall safety are safety harnesses, rescue ropes, an approved breathing apparatus, protective clothing and safety helmets. These pieces should always be evaluated carefully by the safety inspector before each job.
With proper safety training and the right safety equipment, those managing and working in a sewer area have a decreased risk of dealing with accidents or injuries. Each time sewer work is being completed, the same safety checks should be done to ensure minimal chance of severe accidents and harm done to those in and around the area.