To keep the MEWEA membership updated on current and proposed Federal and State laws and
regulations pertaining to safety and to develop training and aids to promote safety.
1. Develops a committee and schedule meetings.
2. Develops relations with other safety organizations.
a. Maine Bureau of Labor Standards
b. Safety Equipment Vendors
c. OSHA – Boston Representative
e. Maine Emergency Management Agency
f. Insurance representatives and consultants
3. Submits articles to the MEWEA Newsletter.
If you have questions about the Safety Committee, please contact the committee chair. A current listing of committee chairs can be found here: Executive Committee and Committee Chairpersons
Maine Department of Labor
Public Sector Compliance Directives describe how the Bureau of Labor Standards will enforce the occupational safety and health standards in Maine public sector workplaces. Compliance Directive No. 12-15 – Maine Department of Labor outlines the key items that a water or wastewater plant should be in compliance with and what might be looked at in an inspection.
The program Director for SafetyWorks! is Mike LaPlante 623-7921 (direct line), email: Michael.A.LaPlante@maine.gov. The SafetyWorks! general email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
To request training for your facility by SafetyWorks! fill out their online request by clicking here
Below are three basic electric safety presentations given by Adele L. Cifelli (207-623-7908), OHST from the Workplace Safety & Health Division. Maine Department of Labor.
Update on Disposal of Ebola-related Waste into Public Wastewater Systems
Information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)- updated December 2014
New in December 2014: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Interim Guidance for Managers and Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Suspected or Confirmed Individuals with Ebola in the U.S. This document is closely associated and should be read in conjunction with the CDC’s previously issued Interim Guidance for Managers and Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Individuals with Ebola in the United States.
In light of these released documents, AWWA continues to encourage utilities to review current PPE protocols, including appropriate donning and doffing procedures to ensure worker safety when handling untreated sewage that may contain Ebola virus. Together, these two documents provide guidance and recommendations for workers to reduce risk of exposure to infectious agents including Ebola when working with untreated sewage.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disposal of Ebola related waste to public wastewater systems (see below). The CDC does not have guidance for wastewater operations specialists and employees related specifically to Ebola.
The CDC and the World Health Organization conclude that Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne or airborne illness, it is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids and Ebola infected cells don’t live long in water because the cells do not have the same salt concentration as bodily fluids.
On October 13, 2014, the CDC indicated it is reconsidering its approach to decontamination and equipment procedures for all health workers (see article below). NRWA is in contact with the CDC and the U.S. EPA regarding any additional guidance for wastewater or drinking water employees, and will be distributing all related guidance.
CDC Guidance on Safety of Ebola and Sanitation Systems:
- * “Sanitary sewers may be used for the safe disposal of patient waste. Additionally, sewage handling processes (e.g., anaerobic digestion, composting, and disinfection) in the United States are designed to inactivate infectious agents.” Interim Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus <http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/environmental-infection-control-in-hospitals.html>, August 1, 2014, CDC
- * “For equipment that drains directly into the sewer system, the United States sanitary sewer system handling processes (e.g., anaerobic digestion, composting, disinfection) are designed to safely inactivate infectious agents.” Interim Guidance for Specimen Collection, Transport, Testing, and Submission for Persons Under Investigation for Ebola Virus Disease in the United States <http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/interim-guidance-specimen-collection-submission-patients-suspected-infection-ebola.html>, October 6, 2014, CDC
Information from the U.S. Army Public Health Command (from www.awwa.org; updated December 2014)
USAPHC’s guidance, Ebola Virus Disease Waste Management in the Medical Treatment Facility (DOC), was issued to assure safe collection, removal, transport and disposal of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) waste from all medical treatment facilities (MTFs) in a manner that is safe to personnel and the environment and in compliance with all applicable regulations.
USAPHC has also issued guidance for Decontamination of Equipment Used in the Area of Operations Impacted by Ebola Virus Disease (PDF).
Update to State Rural Water Associations
In response to inquires about the ability of Ebola to be spread in drinking water supplies, the National Rural Water Association <http://www.nrwa.org/> is distributing the following resources and information that conclude Ebola cannot spread through the drinking water supply.
- * Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne, or airborne illness (WHO <http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/>).
- * Ebola spreads in human populations through human-to-human transmission, through direct contact with infected bodily fluids including blood, vomit, or feces (WHO <http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/>).
- * Ebola can’t survive in drinking water because Ebola infected cells don’t live long inside a liquid that doesn’t have the same salt concentration as bodily fluids (NPR <http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/12/346114454/how-do-you-catch-ebola-by-air-sweat-or-water>).
From TPO Magazine
(The following is from TPO Magazine, http://www.tpomag.com/online_exclusives/2014/10/ebola_information_released_for_water_and_wastewater_utilities#.VD0Zixp9EsE.wordpress)
Can Ebola survive in wastewater? The Water Research Foundation releases a statement for water and wastewater utilities.
Editor’s Update: According to an Oct. 17 WEF press release, the CDC is preparing guidance for wastewater sector workers. The guidance, “Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United State,” will address basic hygiene practices and personal protective equipment use and disposal actions that should be taken. The CDC states this review could be ready as early as late October. We will keep you updated as soon as we receive more information.
As a few American have contracted the Ebola virus, concern has spread. One question raised recently by a TPO reader from Michigan: Are wastewater operators at risk? This week, we’ve been searching for authoritative answers for our readers, and on Oct. 7, the Water Research Foundation released the following statement:
- Some water utilities have begun receiving inquiries regarding Ebola. Below are a few facts and resources to reinforce that Ebola cannot spread through the water supply.
- The Ebola virus causes an acute illness that is often fatal with a death rate of up to 90 percent. Ebola virus disease first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in a remote area of Sudan and the other in a village near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from which the disease takes its name. The current outbreak in West Africa (the first cases reported in March 2014) is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered. The current outbreak has spread through both urban and rural areas.
- Ebola is not a foodborne, waterborne or airborne illness. The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids (e.g., blood, vomit, feces). The Ebola virus can only replicate within host cells. Therefore, it cannot survive long in water because it does not have its host — either a human or an animal.
- Because of Ebola’s fragility when separated from its host, bodily fluids flushed by an infected person would not contaminate the water supply. Researchers believe Ebola survives in water for only a matter of minutes. This is because water does not provide the same environment as our bodily fluids, which have higher salt concentrations. Once in water, the host cell will take in water in an attempt to equalize the osmotic pressure, causing the cells to swell and burst, thus killing the virus.