`

Risk Management Bulletins

SEWER NEWS: Understanding CMOM (Capacity, Management, Operations and Management)

CMOM programs are a best practice for sewer line collection system owners and operators. Both comprehensive and holistic, a CMOM provides an information- based plan to effectively run a sewer collection system and help lower the risk of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations and discharge violations. The EPA notes in their Asset Management for Sewer Collection Systems fact sheet: “Lacking adequate focus on operations and maintenance, many collection system utilities have slipped into a reactive mode, with most of their operational resources allocated to emergency response and rehabilitation or replacement of failed systems.” Instead, a proactive and even predictive approach is encouraged by following the CMOM program.

In 2005, the EPA published a guide to evaluating and structuring a Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance program. The CMOM approach is not enforced by regulatory authorities, nor is it legally binding, but can be mandated as a response to consent decrees. CMOM program documentation and subsequent audits may also be required when submitting applications for an NPDES permit. The goal of the CMOM process is to assure that discharge from treatment facilities is free from pollutants. Therefore, preventing sanitary sewer overflows, which are illegal under the Clean Water Act, is a priority.

In a CMOM program, emphasizing all four segments equally will reap the most benefits, but the backbone of the program is the management portion. Utility optimization through CMOM programming aims to be adaptable, changeable, and frequently updated, moving away from the traditional long-interval master plans. Therefore, it is difficult to implement a CMOM program without reviewing the internal components of managing a collection system – things like organizational structure and staffing, training and budgeting. An effective management system helps ensure the operations and maintenance portions of the program can fully be addressed.

Collection system operation also supports review, standardization, and transcription of activities and procedures within a department. Proper documentation allows for increased accessibility and accountability with a collection system’s organization. Operators and administrators thus identify and reflect best practices and ensure processes are kept consistent. This information, time and again, proves valuable in the event of an emergency.

The EPA notes some of these responsibilities may include “monitoring discharges into the collections system for individual users; monitoring to determine the effects of sanitary sewer overflows on receiving waters; and recording any sampling that is done, according to the Guide for Evaluating CMOM Programs at Sanitary Sewer Collections Systems. Other operational activities include safety procedures and emergency preparedness and response programs. The EPA guide also lists modeling and mapping under the operations umbrella. New technologies, like tracking with flow rate monitors, are making it easier to create and structure managerial and operational tasks and even automate some maintenance activities.

Operation and maintenance are often grouped together because their activities are so interrelated. The goal is to keep maintenance planned, as opposed to unplanned. Efficient assets have a longer useful life and reduce the likelihood of failure, decreasing emergency response costs. Like other aspects of a CMOM program, establishing written protocols helps standardize procedures and provides data that can be analyzed for patterns and trends.

Ensuring pipelines are prepared to carry the necessary capacity is a complex task. The capacity of a collection systems relies on a number of variables, including the population being served, total system size, and location of house lateral lines. A routine evaluation of capacity can be coordinated in conjunction with the other operations and maintenance activities to round out a CMOM program. Determining capacity requires both testing and inspecting, which largely focus on finding sources of inflow and infiltration (I&I). I&I is a significant contributor to SSOs and CSOs during wet-weather events. Inspections are moving away from confined-space entry methods for the safety of inspection personnel, instead opting for qualitative testing and methods that utilize CCTV inspection technology and collect comprehensive data. Rehabilitation programs are also essential to CMOM and the goals of avoiding emergency situations and staying preventive and predictive.

Implementing a CMOM program is not an easy task. It is both comprehensive and complex but worth the investment of time and resources because the benefits can be felt in both the short and the long term. In the pursuit of increasing efficiency, a CMOM program helps collection system owners and operators identify where the system and the organization as a whole are thriving and what areas need improvement.

Thankfully, the bulk of the work in putting together a CMOM program is to codify and fine-tune existing processes within a collection system. The EPA and other government sources have released numerous resources to assist owners and operators in putting a CMOM program into action. For more information on how to get your municipality’s CMOM program started, go to https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe.

Print Friendly and PDF

Preventing Backing Collisions

National statistics indicate that backing collisions account for about one-quarter of all collisions. OMAG’s claims records support this fact in regard to our members’ claims. The growing number of rear-vision camera systems should decrease the occurrence of these collisions in the future but do not rely only on your camera system. Utilizing “old school” methods along with a rear-vision camera will increase your hazard awareness. Backing will always carry its own set of risks. The following is a list of tips aimed at preventing backing collisions:

  1. Get to know a vehicle’s blind spots. Mirrors can never give the whole picture when backing.

  2. Think in advance. Don’t put yourself in unnecessary backing situations.

  3. Park defensively. Choose easy-exit parking spaces that don’t crowd neighboring vehicles. Park in the center of your parking space.

  4. Take extra precautionary measures when parking in an alley. Remember to think ahead. If the alley doesn’t permit driving all the way through, back into the alley space. That way you can drive forward to pull into the street.

  5. Perform a walk-around. Walking around your vehicle gives you a first-hand view of the backing area and will alert you to limitations or hazards. Watch for children, muddy areas, poles, pipes, or other obstacles you could hit.

  6. Know the clearances. When performing a walk-around check for obstructions, low hanging trees, wires, or canopies.

  7. Every backing situation is new and different. You may back out of the same spot day after day, but don’t allow yourself to get complacent and relax. Be watchful every time for changes and new obstacles.

  8. Use a spotter. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s help when backing. Use hand signals you’ve both agreed on. Don’t have the spotter walking backwards or standing directly behind your vehicle while giving you instructions.

  9. Don’t delay after doing your walk-around. Get back in your vehicle and start backing within a few seconds. This will allow very little time for people or new obstacles to change behind your vehicle.

  10. Ensure your mirrors are clean and properly adjusted to give you the widest possible view.

  11. Tap the horn twice prior to backing to alert others in the area.

  12. Crack your driver’s window so you can hear any warnings, such as a car horn. Stop immediately if you hear a warning.

  13. Keep your backing distance to a minimum and go slow while covering your brake.

  14. If you are unsure of the clearance around and above your vehicle, get out and look. Check behind, both sides, and above your vehicle before proceeding.

Being proactive and careful while backing can save lives, property damage, and time for all in the long run.

Print Friendly and PDF

2019 Municipal Budget Act Checklist

MUNICIPAL BUDGET ACT ANNUAL CHECKLIST 

IMPORTANT DEADLINES

  •  Before June 1st – Budget Prepared by CEO & Presented to the Governing Body [11 O.S. §17-205]

  •  Before June 16th – Public Hearing [11 O.S. § 17-208]

  • Publish Notice of Date, Time, & Place of the Hearing and the Budget Summary at Least 5 Days Before the Public Hearing [11 O.S. §17-208]

  • Published on the Municipal Website & in a Newspaper of General Circulation [11 O.S. §17-208]

  • Copies of the Budget Available with the Municipal Clerk [11 O.S. §17-208]

  • Before June 24th – Adopt the Budget by Resolution [11 O.S. §17-209(A)]

  • July 1st – Beginning of the Fiscal Year

  • July 30th – Adopted Budget Transmitted to the State Auditor [11 O.S. §17-209(B)]

 BUDGET BY FUNDS & DEPARTMENTS

  • Does Not Apply to Budgeting by Purpose [11 O.S. §17-217-218]

  • Includes a Budget Summary [11 O.S. §17-206(B)(1)]

  • Includes a Budget Message – Explains the Budget and its Important Features [11 O.S. §17-206(B)(2)]

  • Tabular Form for Each Fund, Itemized by Department & Account Showing:

  • Actual Revenues & Expenditures for the Immediate Prior Fiscal Year [11 O.S. §17-206(B)(4)(a)]

  • Revenues & Expenditures for the Current Fiscal Year as Adopted or Amended [11 O.S. §17-206(B)(4)(b)]

  • Estimates of Revenues & Expenditures for the Budget Year [11 O.S. §17-206(B)(4)(c)]

 IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS OF THE BUDGET

  • Resolution That the Governing Body Elects to Come Under the Provisions of the Municipal Budget Act [11 O.S. §17-203]

  • Budgeted Expenditures Cannot Exceed the Estimated Revenues [11 O.S. §17-206(C) & 11 O.S. §17-209(A)]

  • No More Than 10% of any Fund can be Budgeted for Miscellaneous Expenses [11 O.S. §17-206(C)]

  • Expenditures Cannot Exceed 90% of Appropriations for Any Fund Until Actual Revenues Equal to Estimate are Received [11 O.S. §17-211(B)(2)]

  • Determine Needs of the Municipality for Sinking Fund Purposes & Include Those Requirements in the Debt Service Fund Budget [11 O.S. §17-207]

  • File the Estimate of Needs with the County Excise Board (11 O.S. §17-209(B))

  • Budget Shall Present a Complete Financial Plan (Past & Anticipated Revenues & Expenditures) [11 O.S. §17-206(A)]

 FISCAL YEAR REVIEW

  • Submit All Contracts That Require Annual Approval

  • Submit Annual Contract Renewals for Approval

  • Determine if Sales Tax Pledges Need to be Renewed or Appropriated

 BUDGET AMENDMENTS/TRANSFER OF FUNDS

  • CEO as Authorized by the Governing Body May Transfer Unexpected/Unencumbered Appropriations from One Department to Another Within the Same Fund (so Long as no Appropriation for Debt Service or Other Appropriation Required by Law or Ordinance is Reduced by Minimums Required) [11 O.S. §17-215(A)]

  • Governing Body May Transfer Enterprise Funds to Another Fund [11 O.S. §17-215(B)]

  • Governing Body May Transfer Funds When the Necessity for Maintaining a Fund Has Ceased [11 O.S. §17-215(C)]

  • Budget Amendments Must be:

    • Adopted by the Governing Body [11 O.S. §17-216(A)]

    • Filed with the Municipal Clerk & the State Auditor [11 O.S. §17-216(C)]

    • Used for Revenues Received or Not to be Received [11 O.S. §17-216(B)]

    • Used for Unexpended or Unencumbered Fund Balances at the End of the Fiscal Year [11 O.S. §17-216(B)]

    • Used if Insufficient Revenues or Emergency Expenditures to Transfer Funds [11 O.S. §17-216(B)]

    • Also Used to Reduce Appropriations [11 O.S. §17-216(B)]

 CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

  • Ensure Taxes Are Being Levied & Collected for Public Purposes Only [Art. X, Okla Const. §14]

  • Ensure Taxes Levied & Collected for One Purpose Are Not Devoted to Another Purpose [Art. X, Okla Const., §19]

  • Ensure No Appropriations for any Corporation, Association or Individual (No Appropriations for Private Enterprises) [Art. X, Okla Const. §17]

  • Ensure Not Pledging or Loaning its Credit to Any Individual, Corporation, or Association [Art. X, Okla Const. §15]

 REMINDERS

  • Taxpayer May File Protest Against the Levy of Ad Valorem Taxes Within 15 Days  [11 O.S. §17-210]

  • If No Protest is Filed, the Budget & Any Appropriations Thereof Are Legal & Final Unless Amended by the Governing Body [11 O.S. §17-210]

  • Expenditures Incurred, Made, or Authorized Which Exceeds the Fund Balance [11 O.S. §17-211(C)]:

    • Becomes the Obligation of the Officer or Employee

    • Is Not Enforceable Against the Municipality

    • Forfeits Their Office

    • Subject to Civil & Criminal Penalties

    • Expenditure is Void

    • Budget as Appropriated Constitutes an Appropriation for Each Fund [11 O.S. §17-209(C)]

Print Friendly and PDF

March 2019 Risk & Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness

Spring has long been the time of year for annual cleaning projects around homes and offices. However, when it comes to safe food handling, everything that comes in contact with food must be kept clean all year long.

Food that is mishandled or not stored properly can lead to foodborne illness. Follow a “Be Food Safe” policy. Being food safe means preventing foodborne illness by following four easy steps:

  1. Clean – wash your hands and surfaces often and disinfect with food-safe Clorox wipes or Lysol.

  2. Separate – don’t cross contaminate. Keep food covered in airtight containers or sealants.

  3. Cook – Cook all foods to proper temperatures and don’t let them stay out in the open air too long.

  4. Chill – Refrigerate promptly.

Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspections and monitoring, the consumer’s role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased. Everything that touches food should be clean. Here are some suggested steps to take to help prevent foodborne illnesses:

  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds

    • Before and after handling food

    • After using the bathroom

    • After changing a diaper

    • After handling pets

    • After tending to a sick person

    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

    • After handling uncooked eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables

If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion or infection, always use clean disposable gloves. Thoroughly wash with hot soapy water any surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. Use disposable paper towels to clean surfaces, not dishcloths or sponges. Spray or wipe surfaces with disinfectant after cleaning them.

Keep cutting boards clean, wash them with hot soapy water after each use, and then rinse and let air dry. Don’t use the same platter or utensils that held raw meat to serve the cooked product. When using a food thermometer always thoroughly wash it after each use with hot soapy water. Remember to keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals away from food and food preparatory stations. Keep refrigerators clean and sanitized; remove old food frequently. When eating out, eat at reputable restaurants and establishments. Avoid eating foods openly exposed in convenience stores like hotdogs, sausages, and taquitos – there are lots of germs floating around in those places.

Taking some time to “be food safe” could keep you and your co-workers or family from experiencing a very uncomfortable foodborne illness. Bon Appetit!

Print Friendly and PDF

Bloodborne Pathogens - Protecting Workers

Every year municipalities, just like any other business, must train their employees about bloodborne pathogens. The following information can assist you in keeping your employees from contracting a bloodborne illness.

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious micro-organisms in human blood that include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The can infect a healthy body through contact with blood and other body fluids, secretions, and excretions (except sweat). In many cases, contact with infected fluids happens via used needles or other contaminated sharp objects that have not been properly disposed of or properly cleaned and disinfected.

Exposure Control Plan

All organizations where employees could be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must follow the bloodborne pathogens standard. Employers are responsible for determining which jobs, tasks, and procedures involve an occupational exposure. According to OSHA standards, occupational exposure is a “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM that may result from performance of an employee’s duties.” If your workplace carries a risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, you are required to develop an exposure control plan to minimize or eliminate occupational exposures. Start by identifying all the hazards workers may be exposed to. This exposure determination needs to contain a list of jobs with potential exposure and list of procedures that could result in worker exposure. Based on this determination, you should design and implement adequate safety controls using training, providing PPE, and administrative or engineering controls.

Implementing Controls

Elimination of hazards is not feasible in some workplaces. In these situations, it is important to follow basic controls. These controls can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Use “universal precautions”; treat all blood or OPIMs as if they were infected.

  • Implement safe practice controls; update and redesign them as needed.

  • Practice safe decontamination; thoroughly wash and disinfect.

  • Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and specialized clothing if needed. Remember employers are responsible for repairing or replacing PPE when required.

  • Implement engineering controls such as sharps disposal containers or needleless systems.

  • Ensure that hepatitis B immunizations are available to all workers, that they have been properly trained and understand how they could be exposed, that they know how to protect themselves from exposure, and that they know what to do if they have potentially been exposed.

  • Use warning labels and signs on containers and in areas where contaminated materials may be stored.

  • Keep and update worker medical and training records regularly.

  • Keep and update a sharps injury log.

Other Employer Responsibilities

After any exposure incident, arrange for a post-exposure medical evaluation and make it available to affected workers. Document the reasons for exposure and test the source individual (the person whose blood or body fluids contacted the worker) for hepatitis B or hepatitis C or HIV infections. Employers are also responsible for offering the exposed worker post-exposure prophylaxis and counseling.

The municipal exposure control plan must be reviewed and updated annually to reflect any workplace changes that might affect safe work procedures. Employers should also make changes to engineering and practice controls based on input from workers.

Workers must receive regular training that covers all aspects of the exposure control plan including who to report incidents to and how to decontaminate after a potential exposure. All new hires must be trained concerning how they could be exposed in their work environment and what to do if they think they have been exposed.

Although engineering controls are the primary method of reducing exposure, behavioral training also aims to achieve this goal by changing how workers perform tasks. When providing training, consider a program that deals with the human factors. This will increase employee self-awareness and help workers see how situations like fatigue and complacency may put them, their co-workers, or families at greater risk of contracting an illness from a bloodborne pathogen. Safety needs to be addressed from all possible angles to provide workers with the best protection available.

Print Friendly and PDF

Airborne Diseases

You can catch some diseases simply by breathing. These are called airborne diseases. Airborne diseases can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs, or even talks, spewing nasal and throat secretions into the air in particles of moisture. These particles take flight and land on people or surfaces, contaminating them. When you breathe airborne organisms in, they take up residence inside you. You also can pick up viruses or bacteria when you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Because these diseases travel in the air, they are hard to control.

Some of the airborne diseases contracted by millions of people each year are: The Common Cold, Influenza, Chickenpox, Mumps, Measles, Whooping Cough, Tuberculosis, and Diphtheria.

Treatment for Common Airborne Diseases

For most airborne diseases the best treatment is getting plenty of rest and fluids and letting the illness run its course. Some diseases like chickenpox have no targeted treatment, but medications and other supportive care can help relieve symptoms.

Some, such as flu, can be treated with antiviral drugs. Treatment for infants with whooping cough can include antibiotics, but hospitalization is often needed. There are drugs to treat and cure tuberculosis, although some strains of TB are drug resistant. Failure to complete a course of medication can lead to drug resistance and a return of the illness. If caught early enough diphtheria can be successfully treated with antitoxins and antibiotics.

With our world being so easily accessed today with air travel, airborne disease can potentially affect everyone in a brief period of time. Diseases are spread easily in close quarters such as airplanes, schools, malls, and church gatherings. Take precautions: get plenty of rest, exercise, keep your immune system up by using supplemental vitamins, and avoid large populated areas when there is a known outbreak of disease. If you become ill, take some time off from work so you don’t spread the illness.

Print Friendly and PDF

Insect Borne Illness

What are Insect Borne Illnesses?

Insect borne diseases are viral or bacterial illnesses contracted from insect (bug) bites. The most common insects that pass on disease are mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. Some common diseases known to be transmitted by insects are Zika virus, Yellow Fever, and Malaria from mosquitos, and Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from ticks (There are approximately 10 different diseases which can be contracted from a tick bite.)

Common Symptoms of Insect Borne Illnesses:

  • Fever 

  • Sore muscles    

  • Nausea    

  • Headache

  • Chills      

  • Skin rash          

  • Stomach pain

More serious symptoms might include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Swelling/closing of the throat     

  • Chest pain    

  • Vomiting

  • Swelling of lips, tongue, face    

  • Racing heartbeat        

  • Dizziness

How are Insect Borne Illnesses Diagnosed?

Your doctor can typically diagnose an insect borne illness with a physical exam, a review of symptoms, and checking recent travel destinations. Lab tests (blood and urine) can diagnose certain insect borne diseases.

How to Avoid or Prevent Insect-borne Illnesses

  • Stay out of tall grass and bushes

  • Dress in long pants and shirts and wear a hat; tuck pants legs into your boots or socks

  • Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot crawling insects

  • Use bug spray that contains at least 10% DEET

  • Examine your skin and scalp after being outside, checking for bugs or bites

  • Always shower using plenty of soap after being outdoors

Insect Borne Illness Treatment

As soon as you recognize a bite, clean it with soap and water. Pat it dry and apply rubbing alcohol to the bite. If bitten by a tick, remove the tick before cleaning the area. Use tweezers to slowly pull it off your skin. Be careful not to leave any part of the tick in/on your skin. Dispose of the tick. Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water and then wipe with alcohol. Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream to the bite area.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor. If you start having flu-like symptoms 3-10 days after being bitten see a doctor for diagnosis.

Living with Insect Borne Illnesses

Some insect borne illnesses can cause long-term chronic symptoms that affect the quality of life. Lyme disease, for example, can leave you chronically tired and sore. Zika virus can be passed on to a baby and cause microcephaly and an intellectual disability.

Print Friendly and PDF

Municipalities Must Take GHS-HazCom Training Seriously

The final GHS (Global Harmonization System) deadline is now long past. OSHA’s alignment of the HazCom (Hazardous Communication Standard) to GHS has provided a wakeup call to millions of companies across the U.S. to do a better job with their HazCom programs, especially when it comes to training. Unfortunately, not all Oklahoma municipalities have embraced this new standard. HazCom violations remain the number 2 violation on OSHA’s top 10 list of violations.

This article provides four steps employers can take to ensure employees understand the chemical hazards present in their work environments and to comply with GHS updates to HazCom.

  • Step One: Build a Training Program Focused on Usefulness

    • While OSHA, and here in Oklahoma, the Department of Labor’s PEOSH division don’t specify how to do training, they do state that training must be effective. Employees must carry their learning into the workplace and be able to put it to use. HazCom has two key components: 1) providing employees with a basic understanding of the HazCom standard (OMAG works with many of our cities and towns to provide this understanding.); and 2) training employees on the specific hazards of the chemicals to which they are exposed and providing protection through administrative controls, engineering controls, and personal protective equipment (These are the responsibility of the employer and its departmental supervisors.)

    • In the past, HazCom with GHS focused on training workers to understand the new SDS (safety data sheets) and labeling formats accompanied with GHS adoption. However, many employers lacked a basic level of understanding about HazCom (municipalities included), making it difficult for them to comprehend and address the changes brought by the new GHS alignment. As a result, workers were never adequately trained on HazCom in the first place or had been trained so long ago that what they learned had been forgotten. It is critical that employers continue to emphasize basic HazCom training, which now includes GHS information to ensure employees are able to use the information in their day-to-day activities.

    • The second component of an effective HazCom training program focuses on the individual hazards employees face. Departmental supervisors must train their employees on the specific chemicals used and their hazards. The key here is to provide employees with a deeper understanding of the dangers and emergency situations they face, and counter them by following written policies and procedures.

  • Step Two: Deliver Training So Employees Can Understand It

    • When OSHA first published the HazCom Standard in 1983, it followed the concept of the employee’s “right to know” about the hazards to which they might be exposed. A primary driver for OSHA’s adoption of the GHS has been the desire to improve employee comprehension of critical chemical safety information.

    • With GHS, OSHA is indicating it’s not enough for workers to just know about the hazards; instead they have the “right to understand” those hazards and know what related safety precautions to take.

    • The pre-GHS employee “right to know” concept often translated into giving workers access to MSDSs and labels and making sure they were aware of the hazards that existed from chemicals in their work environment. This approach didn’t always translate to employees understanding the safety and health information being conveyed on the MSDS and labels. GHS adoption helped solve this issue by bringing harmonization and consistency to the structure of the safety data sheets (formerly MSDS, now SDS) and labels. Use of standardized hazard communication elements, such as pictograms, make it possible for workers to more easily understand the hazards associated with chemicals workers use or are around. This simplified approach to communicating hazard information makes it possible to protect workers of all backgrounds. For instance, pictograms make it easier for illiterate and non-English speaking employees to understand the nature of a product’s hazardous properties.

    • The “right to understand” concept compliments OSHA’s rule on employee HazCom training – that it must be presented in a manner all employees can comprehend and retain. When applied to HazCom training, this means that employees who work with or around hazardous chemicals must receive training in a language they can understand, even if the documents (SDSs and labels) are only required in English.

  • Step Three: Provide Easy Access to SDSs

    • A key aspect of HazCom training is to make sure employees know how to get direct access to Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) and other hazardous chemical information. Some employers are using electronic solutions to help employees retrieve information from their inventory of SDSs. If this is true with your municipality, it is incumbent on you to make sure employees are made aware of the system, how to access it, and how to use it. Without that access, in the event of an emergency, even an employee that has received adequate training on labels and SDSs will still be at risk should a chemical event occur that requires quick action. For that reason, many employers are taking advantage of technological advancements and using mobile solutions to put SDSs in the hands of their employees. The best Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) software solutions today leverage the cloud to make critical chemical safety information available anywhere, any time. One problem with using technology solutions, however, is many municipalities don’t have the financial resources to provide such innovative techniques. Therefore, keeping updated SDSs available to workers in a binder within the work environment of the workers may still be the best way to provide them with quick environmental, safety, and health information when a chemical event occurs. These binders can be kept in trucks, shops, and offices - wherever the employee has access to them.

  • Step Four: Keep It Consistent

    • While OSHA and OK DOL-PEOSH don’t require employee training to be performed in specific intervals of time, regular training (at least annually) is a best practice to help ensure your employees better retain HazCom with GHS information. Other instances for training may include newly hired employees, temporary employees, visiting contract workers, or when a new chemical is introduced to a department. This helps ensure that employees who might work with or around a hazardous chemical understand its potential hazards.

It is vitally important to view HazCom and GHS training as an ongoing obligation. Over my years of travel around the state performing inspections and trainings for OMAG shareholders (cities and towns), I have personally noted frequent inadequacies with regard to HazCom and GHS training and information resources. The safety of your employees must be a priority in your day-to-day operations for their sake, for your municipality’s sake, and for the health and welfare of the state of Oklahoma.

Print Friendly and PDF

Sewage Lagoon Basics

sewage lagoon is a large pond into which the sewage or effluent from the sewage system flows. Sewage lagoons are also called effluent ponds.

The sewage and effluent are broken down by germs in the lagoon. The sun and wind play an important role in the working of the lagoon. They provide light, warmth and oxygen to the water. This is necessary for the growth of the bacteria in the water.

The light, warmth and oxygen also aid the growth of algae in the water. Algae give the lagoon its greenish color. Algae helps the bacteria break down the sewage and effluent.

The wind helps with the evaporation of the water and serves to get oxygen into the water. It also creates waves which help stop insects from breeding and living in the water. Disease-causing mosquitoes, for example, need still water to breed.

For a lagoon to be able to break down the sewage or effluent properly and to be a healthy place it must meet the following requirements:

  • It must not be more than 1 meter deep

  • The banks need to be sloped at approximately 15 to 20 degrees and made of concrete, gravel or rock. This stops the wave action from eroding (breaking down) the banks

  • There must be no grass, trees or other vegetation on the banks or surrounding area which would stop the sun and wind action needed by the lagoon

  • The water must be free of vegetation or objects which stop the lagoon's surface wave action or create still patches

  • It must be surrounded by a high fence with a lockable gate to keep children and animals out

Lagoon overflows

Where there is only one lagoon in the sewage disposal system, it will have an overflow situated directly opposite where the pipe carrying the sewage or effluent enters the lagoon. If there is more than one lagoon in the system, the overflow will be in the last lagoon.

The overflow releases water from the lagoon system which has not been removed by evaporation. New lagoon systems are required to be designed so disposal occurs by evaporation only. They should not rely on overflow, except during very heavy rainfall periods. However, where an existing lagoon system uses an overflow method, the overflow should not create a flooded or swampy area suitable for mosquito breeding, or where it may contaminate drinking water or the environment.

Lagoon maintenance

Lagoons which are not working properly or are poorly maintained or damaged may be dangerous to health.  Signs of a lagoon which is not working properly are heavy overflow, mosquito breeding or a bad smell.

Signs of a lagoon which is poorly maintained or damaged include broken fences and gates, trees, shrubs or grass on the banks, grass growing and other objects in the water causing still patches.

Unsafe sewage lagoon
To be properly maintained the lagoon should be checked frequently and any problems reported to the authority responsible for providing maintenance. It is important to report any of the following:

  • eroded or broken lagoon banks

  • lagoon banks which are not angled at 15-20 degrees

  • trees and/or other vegetation growing in the lagoon, on its banks or in the area around the lagoon

  • bad smells given off by the lagoon

  • water which is not a light, flecked green color

  • still areas on the surface of the lagoon

  • signs of mosquitoes breeding in the water

  • damaged fences or gates that cannot be locked properly to keep out animals and children

  • rubbish in the water

  • a swampy situation near the lagoon (possibly caused by the overflow) which could provide mosquito breeding areas

  • grass on the banks of lagoons, particularly growing at the edge of water, which can provide ideal mosquito breeding areas

Print Friendly and PDF