California Wastewater Employee Accidents: Part 2

Being in a hurry is a common cause of accidents in the wastewater industry. When an employee isn’t paying full attention to their surroundings, it’s easy to be caught off guard. That’s what happened in the following incidents.

Story #3: Slip and Slide

An employee was working in a centrifuge sludge rack. He was opening the left side of the split lid when the rope broke. Flustered, the worker quickly moved to the right side to open the other half of the lid so he could begin loading sludge. He slipped on the wet ground and fell hard enough to break his thigh bone at the hip. The employee spent several days in the hospital as a result of the injury and no doubt had a long recovery.

Takeaway: Wet floors are a common hazard at water and wastewater worksites. Employees should wear skid-resistant shoes and watch their step on the job. Supervisors should make it clear that getting the job done safely is more important than getting it done fast.

Story #4: Something’s Got to Give

An employee was standing on top of a narrow control cabinet and fastening a nylon sling and clevis around the housing of a blower motor filter so it could be moved by a forklift. Still standing on the cabinet, he indicated to the forklift operator to raise the load. The sudden tension on the strap caused it to give way with a loud POP! The employee was so startled that he lost his balance and fell over 7.5’ to the concrete floor below. He suffered a serious hip fracture from the fall.

Takeaway: This is a good example of why Cal/OSHA requires fall protection any time an employee will be working at heights of more than seven and a half feet. The employee should have followed proper fall prevention safety practices for working at this height. For example, he should have been using an approved ladder instead of balancing on top of a control panel. The forklift operator should also have waited to lift the housing until the employee returned to ground level and moved clear of the forklift.

Next time, we’ll look at the hazards heavy equipment pose at worksites in the wastewater industry. Stay tuned!