Being a plant manager at a wastewater treatment center is an enormous responsibility. You answer to many higher authorities besides your direct boss. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) might even know you by name.

Plant managers not only are responsible for preventing health hazards to the public, but they must also protect their employees. This is a daunting task in any industry, but for wastewater managers, they get to do it surrounded by sewage.

Following are some simple tips to keep your safety plan up to date and effective in these demanding conditions.

Standard Safety Requirements

Proper maintenance of machinery and equipment is a necessity. If your equipment fails, not only is it unsafe, but your facility is down for the count. Instead of thinking of your maintenance staff as repairmen, think of them as repair preventers. The best maintenance is done before something goes wrong. This lessens the safety hazards that arise when equipment malfunctions or breaks down.

Proper maintenance requires organization and planning. All pipes and electrical systems must be labeled appropriately. This includes identifying intake and outlet pipes and any equipment that presents an electrical flash hazard. If workers must perform repairs near live equipment, make sure they have the appropriate tools and protective gear and know how to use them.

Employees are often required to work on catwalks high above open pits. Ensure all railings are adequate to prevent falls. If workers must perform their duties in unguarded areas, fall protection is required for any work 6 feet above the ground or a lower level.

Employees should also follow any confined-space entry requirements set by OSHA. Confined spaces are areas that an employee can enter, have restricted exit and entry, and are not designed for continuous work. Warnings must be prominently placed in any hazard zones. Barricades should be set to prevent unauthorized entry.

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