Immunizations for Utility Personnel
By: Mike Baumgartner, ARWA Wastewater Technician
Lately, I have been asked about immunization or vaccination needs for wastewater operators.
First, I can only share my experiences while working for a municipality in our neighboring State of Florida. The immunization program was part of the safety section of the policy manual.
Let me remind all of the managers that you are to provide a safe work environment for your employees. That means, supplying all of the safety equipment needed to safely perform their job duties. Do you have all of the required equipment when performing confined space entry? Gas detection, air blower and means for emergency extraction? How about rubber gloves and PPE equipment and training on how to use it. Have your employees been properly fitted for mask use? This is all part of the policy.
Does your local fire department know your location of chemicals being used? What happens if there is a leak? How about if an employee gets exposed to chlorine gas? Who will be a first responder and are they properly trained? I would suggest meeting with the local Fire Department and other emergency responders. You may need to look at a neighboring Town or City that has experience in this area.
As far as immunizations, I am not a doctor, but through communications with the Alabama Department of Public Health, we were directed to the following guidelines for 2014 Recommended Immunizations for Adults published by the Centers for Disease Control. I would encourage you to review the CDC Chart to determine your utility employees risk and exposure in areas related to these particular illnesses and/or diseases. Employees may also consult with their personal physician for immunization recommendations.
Article first appeared in Waterline, Spring 2014
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