What is the Correct PPE Gear for Wastewater Treatment Plants?
How to Choose Correct PPE Gear for Wastewater Treatment Plants?
You must have wondered where the polluted water from industries ends up? What happens to the sewage and domestic water? These water sources then end up in larger water bodies like rivers, seas, or even oceans. With the current norms, rules, and regulations of pollution control, wastewater from industry or households cannot be discharged directly into natural water bodies. So, the water is treated before the discharge. This process is called wastewater treatment. Have you ever thought of the PPE gear one requires while working in a wastewater treatment plant? This article will enlighten about this topic.
With the advent of industrialization and urbanization, large volumes of water were used for the daily purpose of activities and processes. The result of this large consumption of water was enormous quantities of polluted water. If disposed of without any treatment, wastewater can have devastating effects on the natural water bodies that affect its flora and fauna. Moreover, this can also accelerate global warming too. The best possible solution to counter this problem was to treat the wastewater.
Find out more about the sources of wastewater.
Wastewater treatment plants are set up at various places as a countermeasure. These plants receive wastewater from two primary sources. The major source is industrial while domestic water consumption is also considered to be a contributor. PPE is necessary for protection against the elements which can harm the human body. So, if PPE is required in wastewater treatment plants, then we need to understand what is the element against which we require protection.
What is the composition of Wastewater?
It is estimated that about 19 trillion gallons of wastewater are generated per year in North America alone. The sources of wastewater can be industrial, residential, commercial, or even agricultural. The composition of wastewater is more or less highly dependent on the source. Irrespective of the source, wastewater has more than 95% of water as the major component. The other 5% includes organic matter (like hair, feces, and other matter), inorganic matter (like cement, dust, and other substances), chemicals (like urea, salts, etc.), pathogens, micro-organisms, and other living organisms.
Domestic water sources have a high composition of organic matter while industrial sources mostly have chemicals and inorganic substances. For humans, the most problematic element in wastewater is actually pathogens. These pathogens may include a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can potentially damage the human body. Certain chemicals can also cause harm. PPE kit is donned by employees of wastewater treatment plants to protect themselves from these pathogens and chemicals.
What is the role of Wastewater Treatment Plants?
Wastewater treatment comes under the sanitation sector. The process of wastewater treatment plants is to separate the solid particles. These solid particles are known as suspended solids. Wastewater treatment plants often involve primary and secondary stages. In these stages, a variety of processes like filtration, sedimentation, aeration, and biological treatment are applied. The estimated valuation of the wastewater treatment industry is about $200 billion.
Find out more about the growth of the wastewater treatment industry.
The wastewater treatment industry plays a vital role in the preservation of the environment. It also ensures the protection of flora and fauna. Untreated wastewater can pollute the water resources resulting in an outbreak of disease. It also destroys the aquatic environment as untreated wastewater decreases the dissolved oxygen levels. Thus, wastewater treatment is very essential.
How to choose PPE for wastewater treatment plant employees?
The employees in this sector have to face the most dangerous hazards. Wastewater treatment employees are amongst the top ten most unhygienic jobs. This is due to the work requirement and environment. Most wastewater treatment plants are built underground. This means that the workspaces lack ventilation. The processes often require huge and loud machinery. The most common type of hazards that a wastewater treatment employee comes across are pathogens, chemicals, poor ventilation, heavy machinery, fire outbreaks, slippery spaces, and underground workspace.
Curious ones can check out ‘How to choose PPE for Face Protection?’
In the absence of PPE, the occupational hazards may result in a mishap that can hurt the wastewater treatment employee. These employees may further get affected by occupational diseases that may have permanent or temporary effects. The body parts that are susceptible to the damages are the sensory organs, skin, and respiratory organs. Moreover, as these employees deal with huge volumes of water, they are at risk of drowning. Also, many processes of wastewater treatment require the direct handling of chemicals and microorganisms.
What is the PPE required for the wastewater treatment plant employees?
To counter these hazards, an employee should don PPE. The PPE for wastewater treatment plant employees is specially curated to tackle every hazard that they may face. Accordingly, here is the recommended PPE for the wastewater treatment employees.
- Hair Cover: Employees can use caps, helmets, or even surgical hair covers to prevent transmission contamination.
- Safety Goggles: Protects eyes from pathogens and splashes
- Face Mask or Respirator: Protects nose and mouth from pathogens, fumes, chemicals, and splashes.
- Face Shield: It is recommended when working in the vicinity of wastewater.
- Waterproof suit or Rainsuit: Wastewater treatment employees usually don a rain suit when working in the vicinity of wastewater to protect themselves from splashes.
- Ear Plugs: They are used to protect ears from the loud noise of the machinery.
- Waterproof Gloves: They aid and improve the working efficiency of the employees.
- Rubber Boots: They prevent any chance of slipping, especially on slippery surfaces.
- Shoe Covers: They are recommended to prevent transmission of contamination.
- Safety Harnesses: These may be required while cleaning clarifiers and other machinery.
- Life Jackets and Ring Buoys: For the prevention of drowning.
Check out our blog on PPE required in various industrial environments.
Along with the provision of the above-mentioned PPE, the employer also needs to invest in creating awareness, education, and training related to PPE for their employees. This includes PPE handling, PPE storage, donning & doffing of PPE, and even proper PPE disposal. The employer should ensure that the PPE doesn’t disturb the working efficiency and hamper the movements of the employees. Moreover, the PPE should be of high quality without any tampering, cuts, tears, or any other type of damage.
Occupational safety in wastewater treatment plants is of utmost importance. This is due to several occupational hazards, poor and unhygienic workplace environments. According to a statistic, there are 3 occupational injuries per 100 workers. This makes PPE more necessary for the wastewater treatment employees.