Workers who handle wastewater sewage or work in treatment plants that eventually produce biosolids are at greater risk of contracting waterborne diseases. Though facilities try to minimize the harm and the exposure to certain types of contaminants and to directly handling waste, there can be no 100-percent assurance that biosolids workers are protected from illnesses such as diarrhea, amoebiasis, and many more.
Sanitation and hygiene are very important to a treatment plant. One, the facility must maintain a clean and sanitized working area for their workers. Two, the workers are required and obligated to follow strict rules and guidelines on handling wastewater sludge. The responsibility of ensuring the facility is clean and the workers follow instructions fall on the shoulders of the treatment plant owner.
Here are some basic hygiene practices for treatment plant workers:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling waste or sewage. A little tip: sing a “Happy Birthday” song while you wash your hands. Finish the song and your hands are properly cleaned.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or any open sores or cuts while handling waste and sewage. This is the easiest way for bacteria to get into your bloodstream.
- Wash your hands before and after eating and before and after using the toilet if you are working in a sewage plant. Your health is most vulnerable when you are using your hands on your food.
- Eat in designated areas away from the activities that handle the management of producing biosolids and processing wastewater sludge.
- While handling human waste or sewage, avoid chewing a gum or smoking a tobacco because you can inhale the “bacteria” through these two activities.
- Cover wounds with clean and dry bandages. Remember, open wounds are the easiest paths to your bloodstream. Make sure these are covered if you are going to work with waste.
- Use gloves and boots to protect yourself from the contaminants that are present in the worksite. Make sure that the gloves or boots have no cuts where the bacteria can enter.
- Leave your work clothes at the worksite. There’s no need to bring your work clothes back home because most treatment plants prefer to laundry, dry, iron, and sanitize their workers’ clothes.
- Clean contaminated work clothes with 0.05% chlorine solution (one part household bleach to 100 parts water). This will help get rid of whatever contaminants that stuck on your clothes when you leave the workplace.