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Kee Lite Aluminum Railing / modular pipes / safety railings / wastewater treatment plant

Safety Tips for Wastewater Treatment Plants

Industries rise and fall due to technology—the automobile replacing the horse-drawn buggy is a favorite example—or relocate to another country because of lower labor costs, better access to raw materials, fewer regulations, and so on.

An industry not going anywhere found in virtually every Canadian municipality is wastewater treatment. These unique, ubiquitous facilities clean sewage and treat used water so that reoxygenated water can be returned safely to the environment.

Another aspect of safety at a wastewater treatment plant is safeguarding the workers, including fall protection.

Wastewater Treatment Plant / Safety Railings / aluminum railings / Kee Lite

A Flood and Flow of Railings

What is often most noticeable at a wastewater facility is the number of railings installed around clarifiers, vats, and tanks, along walkways, and even on the roofs of buildings. The preferred type of railings used for water storage and processing areas are constructed of aluminum or an aluminum alloy for strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.

The preferred aluminum railings are modular, pipe-fitted systems because they require no welding to install and are easy to reconfigure for changing facility needs. As an added safety measure, railings equipped with toe boards can help prevent tools from falling into the water.

According to Canada Occupational Safety and Health Regulations, SOR/86-304, Sections 12.12 (guardrails) to 12.13 (toe boards), guardrails should be highly visible and have:

  • A horizontal top rail 900 mm to 1100 mm in height above the base of the guardrail;
  • A horizontal intermediate rail midway between the top rail and the base;
  • Supporting upright posts not more than 3 m apart at their centres;
  • Withstand a static load of 890 N applied in any direction at any point on the top rail.
Kee Gate/ Self-closing Gate / Safe Access / Safety Gate / fall protection

Gates to Stem the Flow

Railing systems have entry points, notably for stairs, roof access, machine guarding, and other restricted areas. To protect workers from a fall or unauthorized entry, install self-closing gates. The gates should also be constructed of aluminum and meet the same regulatory safety standards for railings.

Kee Walk walkway/ safety walkway / safe access / fall protection equipment

Walk with the Flow

Railings and gates protect workers in the event of a fall; however, an anti-slip safety walkway can help prevent a fall. Walkways made from nylon or aluminum will not rust, are installed without welding, and can be configured to traverse areas from the ground floor to rooftops. They can be constructed as steps for inclines or crossovers for obstacles such as pipes.

Kee Platform / Work platform / Static Platform / Fall protection / safe access

Workflow Workaround

Wastewater treatment plants have skid-mounted processing systems and building support equipment (e.g., HVAC) that require maintenance and repairs. Work platforms are more stable and safer than ladders. Constructed with modular fittings, bases, and frames that connect pipe rail, steps, and anti-slip surfaces, a significant advantage of these work platforms is that they can be reconfigured when needs at the plant change.

Platform types include:

  1. Static Work Platforms – provide “off-the-shelf” solutions.
  2. Mobile Work Platforms – feature heavy-duty casters for mobility.
  3. Custom Work Platforms – engineered-to-order for site-specific needs.
Kee Line/ horizontal lifeline / fall protection

From Above the Fray

Not all tanks, processing systems, or vehicles can be serviced from the side or at level, so overhead fall protection equipment will be needed, such as horizontal lifelines or overhead lifelines that provide access from above. In the event of a slip or fall, lifelines provide fall arrest to help prevent a worker from injury.

Kee Mark Warning Line / Warning Line / demarcation system

Go Anywhere with the Flow

A wastewater treatment plant is a dynamic, ever-changing facility where construction crews are often present for renovations or a new build. There are many safety regulations to cover the construction industry, but for other employees, a warning line will highlight an off-limits area at the facility.

A warning line should not simply be a roll of caution tape. A proper demarcation system will have strong, sturdy, adjustable bases, uprights, and cables marked by large safety flags. The portability of such systems is ideal for a facility in a constant state of progress.

Still Not Going Anywhere

The average person may not think of wastewater treatment plants as they shower, run the dishwasher, or flush the toilet. In addition to residences, large amounts of wastewater are generated by manufacturing facilities, food processing plants, the pharmaceutical industry, medical and educational institutions, and many other segments.

While wastewater treatment may be the last thing people think about, every locality depends on these facilities. And like everywhere else, safety comes first.

The Hierarchy of Fall Protection | fall arrest | fall restraint | collective fall protection | work at height

The Hierarchy of Fall Protection

A truly comprehensive rooftop solution follows the Hierarchy of Fall Protection. An expert starts by inspecting the roof site for potential fall hazards. From there, a complete system solution and recommendations are created that descend down the four levels of the hierarchy, from simple, sensible approaches for eliminating risks all the way down to lifesaving personal protection systems. 

Collective Systems require no additional training to use. Fall Restraint and Fall Arrest Systems both require a high level of user competency, training and additional inspection to be used properly. 

The Hierarchy of Fall Protection Solutions