Waste water treatment plants are usually operated by municipalities or private utility companies, and are regulated by the states wherein they reside, but their standards were enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 (amended in 1986 and 1996), all local treatment systems are regulated so that the water they treat is tested for contamination, their improvement plans are reviewed, they have onsite inspection to ensure that machinery and sanitation efforts are functioning properly, that personnel are properly trained, and that they comply with all standards (or face stiff penalties).
On top of these regulations are safety expectations imposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor. Waste water treatment plants have so many potentially hazardous areas that can impact people, directly and indirectly.
Who is Affected?
Directly, employees at the plant run the risk of workplace injuries from working around the huge pumps, walking near and above open water treatment containment tanks, agitator pools, furnaces, pipes, and various other facility obstacles, machinery and equipment which can create pitfalls for unsuspecting workers. Indirectly, end users of the treated water run the risk of drinking and using improperly treated water, but this post is primarily concerned with the safety of workers and visitors to the treatment plant.
Ways to Make It Safe
Workers who must work near open vats of raw sewage or even treated water should have all opportunities for falling into the water prevented via various safety devices, warning signs, or precautions. Potentially hazardous holding tanks or agitators should have traction tape laid on walkways or catwalks to reduce slipping. All pipes should be clearly marked with pipe marking labels to display what the contents of the pipes are. Any electric panels should be properly marked with its appropriate PPE and arc flash ratings. Fall arrest harnesses should be worn and utilized whenever workers are working at heights of more than 6 feet. Flotation devices and human retrieval equipment should be at the ready. All workers in unsafe areas should be highly visible and wearing brightly color safety vests and hard hats. No walk or no work zones should be properly marked or cordoned off from accidental entry. These are just some of the more obvious safety precautions that come to mind when contemplating a waste water treatment plant.
What Can Creative Safety Supply Do to Help?
We are a safety supply company, and we can assist your plant with finding the correct safety supplies needed to properly protect your people. For arc flash and pipe marking labels, we highly recommend out LabelTac brand of industrial label printers. For aisle and floor marking, our SafetyTac floor tape is a sure bet for visibility, and our colored traction tapes are the best choice for safe, non-slip walking.
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