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Adequate precautions may prevent wastewater plant work injury

Following up on our blog post about a fatality at a New York wastewater plant from Dec. 12 ("Workplace accident kills wastewater plant worker"), emphasizing the hazards present at these facilities may help prevent more such tragedies. The most important part of any company's quest to avoid fatalities is proper safety training. Such training must inform every employee of potential hazards and how to protect him or herself from suffering a work injury.

Wastewater plants have unique safety hazards and demanding conditions that require equipment and machinery that are properly maintained at all times. Any incident of equipment failure can have devastating consequences. Maintenance includes the appropriate labeling to indicate outlet and intake pipes along with any pieces of equipment that pose electric flash risks. Wearing the necessary protective gear and safety devices to de-energize equipment during maintenance procedures are essential precautions.

Elevated catwalks, often high above open pits and vats, pose different threats that make non-slip footwear and walking surfaces essential. Further protection in the form of harnesses that can arrest falls could prevent workers landing in the wastewater pits. Devices to assist the rescue must be readily available, and workers must know how to quickly retrieve any worker who falls into a vat. Furthermore, confined spaces also pose significant hazards and should be cordoned off as necessary.

Wastewater plant workers in New York will always be vulnerable, and any victim of a work injury might be eligible for workers' compensation insurance benefits. This insurance program typically covers medical expenses and lost wages. However, prompt reporting of the incident to the employer is important, and there is also a time limit to the filing of benefits claims. Any injured worker has the right to seek the help of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to provide the necessary guidance and support with the navigation of a benefits claim.

Source:, "Important Safety Tips for Wastewater Treatment Plants", Jeff Maree, Dec. 15, 2017

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