The average American uses about 90 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and almost all of it is flushed or drained away. It’s hard to imagine that much water—plus rainwater—flowing into Ohio treatment plants every day, but it happens.
The men and women who work in treatment plants, such as Jackson Pike and Southerly in Columbus, experience a higher than average illness and injury rate, according to Treatment Plant Operator magazine.
Given the volume of work they have and the hazards they face, I thought it was worth looking at an occupation the rest of us probably give little thought to.
Hazards at Ohio Wastewater Treatment Plants
Toxins, heavy equipment, confined spaces, and a lot of water contribute to the dangers workers encounter at wastewater treatment plants. As in many other industries, the most common workplace accidents at these plants are slips and trips, but these professionals face other dangers unique to their industry, including:
- Exposure to gases and chemicals. Working in small spaces such as sewers, pipelines, and pump stations means there is little ventilation when gases like methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide are released. Workers also face dangerous and even deadly levels of chlorine exposure during the sanitation process.
- Trench collapse. Individuals can be crushed or suffocated if they're digging a trench when it collapses.
- Water-borne diseases. Some plant workers come in direct contact with wastewater and may be exposed to pathogens that cause water-borne diseases such as diphtheria, dysentery, Legionnaire’s disease, and hepatitis A.
- Drowning. Extreme currents and lack of safety equipment in process tanks and pits can lead to tragic drownings.
Wastewater plant employees with these accidents suffer injuries such as sprains, strains, and breaks, pulled muscles, back and spinal injuries, and respiratory disorders. If the injury or illness is so serious that a person can't continue to do her job, she may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney May Be Able to Help
If you're a wastewater treatment plant worker injured on the job, you may need an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help secure the benefits you deserve. Learn more by requesting my free book, Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio. Then, call my office to schedule a meeting to discuss your specific situation.