The number one priority in any sewer maintenance project or manhole work is always safety. It’s essential to protect workers, as well as any pedestrians or passersby. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to review the latest safety procedures and personal protective equipment.
Basic Safety Procedures
Whenever a manhole is being maintained, there should be warning signs posted so that pedestrians avoid the area. It’s a best practice to have a worker posted above ground, in order to ensure people don’t get too close to the area, as well as to be a point of contact for the person inside. The only people entering a manhole should be those who have been properly trained, and there should always be an emergency plan. Prior to entering any confined underground space, OSHA has specifications for testing the atmosphere to ensure it isn’t an immediate threat to health.
Personal Protective Equipment
Perhaps the most important safety precaution is to have the right personal protective equipment. Not surprisingly, proper manhole ventiliation is essential in order to ensure correct oxygen levels and avoidance of airborne illnesses. Workers need to wear protective clothes, gloves and helmets so that harmful bacteria aren’t transferred onto the skin. The soles of any shoes that aren’t covered should be immediately cleaned afterwards, although rubber boots are highly recommended.
Part of any training has to include a contingency plan for unexpected emergencies. At a minimum, there should be a first aid kit on hand. In some cases, an onsite rescue team is warranted, depending on the conditions in the manhole. Personal protective equipment should prevent cuts or open bleeding, but employees should be trained on flushing any wounds immediately.
A company can never be too cautious when working around manholes. It is essential that workers are properly trained, and all operations must include procedures for emergencies. The right equipment can ensure that your emergency plan is never needed.