Workers in water and wastewater plants are frequently operating in areas with dangers that can prove fatal if unmonitored. Workers are exposed to what can be extremely dangerous levels of toxic gases, and without the correct equipment to detect and monitor these gases, each working operation poses a huge risk to life. The hazards can vary depending on the location and application, but all water and wastewater treatment plants will contain some levels of hazardous gases that must be monitored at all times.
Gases can be found in wastewater plants as a result of the purifying chemicals used, such as ammonia, chlorine and chlorine dioxide. Elimination of these gases is virtually impossible; therefore they will need to be correctly detected and monitored throughout the entire working operation to ensure worker safety. The use of chlorine to disinfect water is a legal requirement in many countries, which means any workers in a water treatment plant are at risk from exposure. Some water plants have switched to using ozone, chlorine dioxide or sodium hypochlorite, which are all equally hazardous and also require the same levels of monitoring for safe operation. Other gases commonly present within this industry are carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride and nitric oxide.
A combination of fixed and portable gas monitors are recommended due to the varying hazards in different parts of a treatment plant. Any gas storage areas or rooms that gases pass through are required to have fixed monitors that will be consistently monitoring the applicable gases in use, while portable monitors should be a mandatory addition to worker’s safety gear when they have entered a confined area.
Many water and wastewater facilities will involve workers entering a confined space area where further equipment may be required such as torches, escape sets and respirators. It is vital that all workers are equipped with emergency escape equipment in case of any sudden changes that can could endanger their life.
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