Health and Safety for Onsite Workers | Onsite Overview #2

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Onsite professionals are exposed to many dangers on the job, and it is important to be aware of all the appropriate health and safety precautions that will keep workers (as well as the general public) safe. Outside of the day-to-day risks that decentralized wastewater workers must face, there is also the concern of public and environmental health when septic systems are not maintained and repaired correctly. We have compiled a list of resources to get you started if you are interested in learning more about decentralized wastewater systems and how they can affect health and safety.

Our best resources on this topic:
“More Than Just Dirty” Pathogen Exposures to Workers in the On-Site Industry | Washington Onsite Sewage Association
This 107-slide presentation provides research results on a study conducted to examine pathogen exposures to workers in the on-site industry, discuss the various types of pathogen exposures and health impacts, what kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to on-site workers, and basic hygiene practices to reduce risks from handling human waste.

Septic Tank Lid Safety | Washington State Department of Health
This 1-page fact sheet has a list of 7 precautions to make sure no one accidently falls into your septic tank. This includes knowing where your septic system lids or covers are located, use bolts, screws, or other locks to secure the lids and prevent easy access, teach children that the septic tank lids are not to be played on or opened.

What is a Cesspool? | Wastewater Alternatives & Innovations
This 3-minute video describes what cesspools are, and why they need to be converted. Basically, a cesspool is a hole in the ground receiving untreated wastewater. Cesspools pollute the environment and endanger public health. The focus is on Hawaii since they have the greatest number of cesspools per capita for a total of 83,000 in the state that are planned to be converted by 2050.

Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Can Protect the Environment, Public Health, and Water Quality | U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This 2-page fact sheet describes how a decentralized wastewater treatment system can provide reliable wastewater treatment, reduce conventional pollutants, nutrients, and emerging contaminants, and mitigate contamination and health risks associated with wastewater. A case study on where this worked is also provided.

The Need to Mandate Openings at Surface on Septic Tanks | National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
This 20-page presentation points out the common problem with access to septic tanks. Septic tanks are often installed without clear indications as to their locations and/or depths, creating several issues that should be addressed in order to properly maintain our waste management systems. Potential risks include the contamination of groundwater as potential injury to workers, homeowners, and the general public. The proposed solution is to install risers with covers to the surface as a reasonable way to assure proper maintenance.

How to find more resources on this topic on our website?
If you are interested in looking through our database for the other resources on this topic follow the instructions below:

  1. Select "CATEGORY" in the dropdown then choose "Decentralized WW Systems." 
  2. Once you make that selection, a second dropdown will appear where you can choose "TYPE" if you are looking for a specific kind of resource (videos, factsheets, etc.)
  3. Optional: In the Keyword Filter, you can type a specific word or phrase to target the search even further.
  4. The last step is to click the "Retrieve Documents" button to see your results.  

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