In industries, the safety of workers and equipment is the top priority of a plant manager in a wastewater treatment plant. In addition to this, a plant manager has to deal with local governmental and environmental authorities and make sure that the plant is operating in compliance with their standards.
So, in this blog, we are going to look at seven safety tips or precautions in a wastewater treatment facility that one should take to avoid accidents.
Let’s jump in!
1. Schedule Timely Maintenance
While operating any machine or equipment for a prolonged period of time without proper maintenance can lead to the permanent breakdown of that equipment. This is the reason maintenance should be scheduled at an appropriate time in the water treatment plant.
The proper maintenance and repair of equipment not only increases the lifespan of a water treatment plant, but also prevents it from permanently shutting down. So, instead of thinking of your repair and maintenance team as repair workers, consider them to be repair prevention team.
The best time for maintenance is before something gets wrong. This will lower the safety hazards that can come in the future. Furthermore, while doing maintenance, you will find certain wear out parts that need replacements.
As a plant manager, it is your duty to replace these parts and ensure proper running of water treatment plants. Some responsible plant managers keep this kind of equipment in their stores so that they immediately replace it. This will save time and lower plant shut down time.
Moreover, proper planning is required to implement maintenance and repair activities in water treatment plants to avoid hazards. This requires planning maintenance for inlet and outlet pipes, identifying high-risk areas, taking permissions from other departments, etc.
2. Have Fall Protection for Workers
In large water treatment plants, workers have to cross railings that are high above the ground to check or repair sensors, alarms, etc. Ground level falls are the most dangerous and can even lead to the death of workers. To ensure the safety of the worker, proper fall protection must be provided.
There are three types of fall protection devices available in the market such as fall prevention, fall restraint, and fall arrest equipment.
- Fall Prevention—The fall prevention devices create a barrier between the fall hazard and the person. Example – guard rails and skylight screens.
- Fall Restraint – A safety harness is a good example of a fall restraint system, as it uses a tie-off system to prevent workers from reaching a fall hazard.
- Fall Arrest – A fall arrest system uses a tie-off system to seize a continuous fall, and examples of this equipment are self-retractable lifelines.
3. Label All Equipment Properly, Especially Critical Ones
Industrial equipment is an important asset of every company and is costly as well. So, it is significant to mention all types of critical details on them using labels. When choosing a label for water treatment plant equipment, you should first consider your requirements, the application of equipment, and the design of the label.
As water treatment plant equipment is continuously exposed to water, harsh environmental conditions, moisture, or toxic chemicals, it is mandatory that their labels are made from rust free durable material so that they do not corrode. The label must include the product identifier number, item name, name of the water treatment plant manufacturer, barcode, specifications like pressure, etc.
Once you select the material for your label, now it’s time to select the type of label you are going to put on every piece of equipment. Equipment that can cause severe injury or needs to be handled with care, should be labeled with a danger or warning sign.
4. Thoroughly Check Electrical Equipment
Wastewater and water treatment plants contain various electrical equipment such as generators, PLC panels for automated plants, AC drives to run motors, transformers, etc. The use of electrical equipment depends on the size and type of water treatment plant, as small-size water treatment systems use smaller transformers and motors whereas large size uses transformers of higher ratings.
Water treatment plants are designed and manufactured in such a way that if any electrical or mechanical fault happens, the alarm goes on, and the operator will get to know which equipment is at risk.
However, in some cases, the alarm does not turn on and the operator or workers have to manually inspect the fault, which is time-consuming and risky in a running plant. So, it is better to thoroughly check the electrical equipment before running a plant one by one manually.
The manual inspection can be done from the PLC or electrical panel by running each AC drive manually and verifying by the person in the field whether it is running or not. Some advanced water treatment systems use a SCADA monitoring system along with PLC, which clearly shows which side of the plant is running and which is at fault on your computer.
5. Use Appropriate Protection Gears
Wastewater treatment employees are exposed to several hazards while working –
- Exposure to chemicals and effluents can cause problems in the respiratory system, skin burns, nausea or acute poisoning.
- Severe injuries from falls, slips, wet floors, drowning while cleaning treatment ponds, etc.
- Injuries while working in confined spaces and so on.
Protection gears for workers are necessary when they need to work in the field as unpredictable hazards can happen and these gears are helpful in protecting the lives of workers. So, here are some of the safety equipment that one must wear while working in the field –
Helmets – Helmets of good quality are essential and should be part of the protocol while working in the water treatment plant to prevent head injuries. The design of helmets has been updated over the years to ensure safety and compliance with safety standards.
While working in the dark, make sure workers have helmets with lights.
Glasses – As in water treatment plants, there is a danger of getting exposed to chemicals, flying derbies, or sprays, so it is necessary to wear glasses to protect the eyes. If the company is willing to invest in more advanced technologies like smart glasses that will send maps, audio recording, and video recordings to the lone workers in the field, then it adds an extra layer of safety.
Respiratory Equipment – When a worker has to go into a hazardous condition then a respiratory kit is necessary and before that, a worker should be properly trained on how to use these kits.
Flame or Water-Resistant Clothing – Flame or Water-resistant Clothing is necessary to protect from the high temperature and water. While working in wastewater treatment plants workers get in contact with flammable chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia, and methane which can produce fire and the flame-resistant clothing ensures the safety of workers in this scenario.
Gloves – Gloves are an essential part of protection for the hands, but they can be inconvenient when it comes to precision or tactile feedback. This is where smart gloves come in. They provide a thin layer of protection with the dexterity and sensitivity of bare hands. This means that wearers can work efficiently and safely without sacrificing their ability to feel what they are doing. The gloves are also designed to be flexible and breathable – so they don’t get in the way.
Fire Extinguishers – Fire extinguishers can help companies to maintain their safety standards and avoid accidents.
Fire extinguishers are one of the most important tools in the water treatment plant. They provide protection against fire, which can be caused by numerous factors, including electrical faults, flammable liquids, and gases, carelessness, or deliberate acts of arson.
They come in different sizes and shapes to suit different types of fires and hazards, but they all work on the same principle: they contain a substance that can be released as vapor or gas to stop the fire from burning any more combustible materials by depriving it of its fuel.
6. Always Employ an Experienced Workforce for the Job
It is critical to always employ an experienced workforce for the job for safety in the water treatment plant. This includes hiring professionals who have experience working in water filtration faculty to oversee the project, as well as following all safety guidelines and procedures.
A professional plant manager will be able to provide expert guidance and direction, ensuring that all necessary precautions are taken when it comes to safety in the plant. They will also have experience in the field, which means they know what they are doing, and they can ensure that you are following the correct procedures.
7. Make Sure All alarms are working properly
The alarm system in the plant should be working properly at all times to ensure the safety of the plant and its workers.
Alarms are one of the most important parts of any water treatment system. These alarms work as an early warning system that notifies operators when there are problems with the equipment, pipes, or other components in the plant.
There are different types of alarms that can be used in plants, but they all serve one main purpose: to warn operators when there is a concern with either their equipment or their processes.
Some examples of these alarms include:
-Water level alarm, which alerts operators when there is a problem with water levels;
-Control room alarm which alerts operators when there is a problem with their control room; and
-Turbine alarm, which alerts operators when there is an issue with their turbine.
Water treatment plants are complex as they involve certain mechanical and electrical components. We hope that the above listed tips will be helpful in gaining insights regarding the safety of workers working in water treatment plants.