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This question of mine was closed as to broad. Reasons given where that a good answer would be beyond the scope of SE. Since then there's also a request for reopening, not by me (reopen-voter, speak up!). Is it salvageable? How?

I'm not 100% convinced by the close reason. My previous employer had a sheet of paper with 5 bullet points as 'best practices' for similar plants, obviously not a great example. Seminars on plant safety (not WWTP, similar) I attended dealt to 80% with legal issues and Quality assurance. So I'm not 100% convinced that that there are no meaningful yet short answer possible.

To be sure, I'm not in any role where I'm responsible for anyone's safety beyond mine. There may be a difference in the legal obligations consultant engineers have between Germany and elsewhere, maybe this misunderstanding is part of the problem?

P.S. Not that his has bearing on the discussion here, but two things I will do is hunt down safety manuals of the plants I visit and pursue my employer about this issue.

P.P.S While my employer offers seminars on safet around the office once a year, on-site practices are not covered. They are in trouble when something happens to one of us, but that's nothing I want to see happen.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm glad that you opened this. I think that the topics brought out will be valuable in the future. I'll put together an answer with my thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – hazzey Mod
    Sep 19, 2015 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ Not that individual anecdotes prove anything, but my employer has mandated a 1/2 - 1 hour crane safety course; another equal length course on trench safety; and a 1 hour course on airborne hazards. Those courses were just to make me aware of potential hazards in case I should need to visit a client site. The catch-all "don't touch" safety lesson isn't of much use to an engineer who is required to survey a site for supervisory or bidding purposes. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Sep 20, 2015 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ One concern I have with the main question is that it is a list of things questions. Those style questions don't work well for the StackExchange Q&A format. We'll see one liner (non-)answers, "in addition to what @foo said...", and other low quality types of answers. List of things type questions squarely fall into the category of "There are either too many possible answers," aka "Too Broad." $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Sep 20, 2015 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ Did you mean to write, "To be sure, I'm not in any role...?" $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Sep 20, 2015 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ yes, fixed it also. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Sep 20, 2015 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @GlenH7 raises what I think is the critical problem with the question. And unfortunately for safety-related issues the list will be long and (should be) continuously growing. $\endgroup$
    – wwarriner
    Oct 1, 2015 at 17:26

2 Answers 2

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I have two general issues with the question. Only one really relates to the site. The other one is more of an "industry" concern.

Site Issues

The problem with asking about general site safety is that there is always something more to think about in order to be safe. Everyone could add all of their thoughts. These could even be bullet points from very specific safety training or plant safety manuals. At the end, there is going to be something that has not been covered.

Are you worried about meteors? badgers? power outage? earthquake? tidal wave? plane crash? Those are all safety issues, but the likelihood of each of them are not the same. Where does the list stop?

Also, do the "general" things need to be on the list? Does the list need to include first aid? not licking the walls? slips trips and falls? oxygen tanks? lock out tag out? eye protection? hearing protection?

These are reasons why asking for a list can not possibly be answered completely on this site.

Industry Issues

This is where I point out that having to ask on a site like this about safety issues scares me. Your employer should be training you in everything that you need to know. Even the plant should be sure that you have the required training before setting foot on site. If none of this has happened, that scares me.

I believe that you are in a different country (and the laws are likely very different), but in the USA, the government agency that handles industry safety is OSHA. They have volumes of rules that are required to be followed. And as is usually the case, ignorance of these rules doesn't protect you from being punished for not following them.

Can the question be saved?

The items above are about the question as it stands now. That doesn't mean that it can't be saved. You will have to narrow it down somehow to make it work though.

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  • $\begingroup$ re industery issues: My employer has to inform me on all I have to know to be safe, in theory. GErman law is different in that erspect. As the consultant engineer I'm also not repsonsible for the safety of the refurbishment works, that's with the operator of the WWTP. That it's on my employer to educate me doesn't mean I can't be proactive about it, hence this question. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Sep 20, 2015 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ also, I very much see your concerns. +1. $\endgroup$
    – mart
    Sep 20, 2015 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @mart In the US your employer is responsible for ascertaining you have received adequate safety training in order to even step foot on the site. It's a baseline requirement that applies irrespective of your authority / role on the site and is based upon what is likely to occur at that site for the given activities at the site. If I'm injured while on site, my employer is potentially liable if they failed to provide adequate training. $\endgroup$
    – user16
    Sep 21, 2015 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ I completely agree with the first part of the answer, and it ties into the second: ideally safety should be part of a Continuous Improvement program at all places of employment. @mart You raise an important point as well, namely that safety is everyone's responsibility, especially the individual. It is important to note that just because the employer may be liable for safety, that does not mean that individuals can assume everything must be therefore safe. $\endgroup$
    – wwarriner
    Oct 1, 2015 at 17:24
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I think YES, it may be salvageable, but it needs to have its scoped narrowed considerably.

For your question, I see two possible kinds of answers. The first is the most basic safety practices that would apply to any work site of any kind. Be alert, wear all necessary PPE, don't go places you don't need to go or touch things you don't need to touch, and follow any on-site signs, notices, or other guidance. These should be common sense, but going into a new environment they bear repeating.

The second kind are very situation specific, and at the moment we don't have the necessary information about your situation to give that sort of advice. We don't know which section of the treatment plant you're visiting, and what sort of work you're doing there that may put you at different levels of risk. It's also not explicitly clear what sort of hazards might exist at a treatment plant, but if you're looking for answers from other people who visit WWTPs, this isn't as big an issue.

However, I think the biggest variable to me is the refurbishment. On top of a handful of other unknowns and a situation which already has hazards, you're throwing unknown construction. Without specifics on what kind of refurbishment, this question becomes impossible to answer.

The answers you're probably looking for are the second kind: specific to your situation, with its unique hazards and work requirements. These answers could be useful to others who find themselves in similar situations. But instead of asking for general best practices, I think you should be looking for advice on how to handle specific situations. Pictures would be extremely helpful, though I realize that may pose problems depending on your employer's and client's feelings on the matter. I think I'd like to see the question in the form of "I'm going to be at a WWTP working with X part of the plant, performing Y task, while it undergoes Z refurbishment. What can I do in addition to the standard safety practices to ensure the health and safety of me and those around me?"

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