Workshop on protecting wastewater and sewer workers from infectious disease risks

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The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Environmental Protection Agency are hosting a workshop on protecting wastewater and sewer workers from infectious disease risks. The workshop will be held June 29-30 at the headquarters offices of American Water in Voorhees, NJ. Seeking wastewater treatment plant operators to contribute their knowledge to this event.

Although motivated by the recent Ebola outbreak, the workshop will focus on science and solutions needed to protect wastewater workers from infectious disease risks beyond Ebola. The workshop objectives are to:

  1. Use a job safety analysis approach, outline job tasks during which wastewater and sewer workers could be exposed to pathogens, list potential points of exposure during each task, and estimate the potential magnitude of exposure at each point;
  2. document current occupational safety practices for each potential exposure point;
  3. identify best practices for each exposure point and the gaps between current practice and best practices;
  4. identify barriers preventing uptake of best practices; and
  5. assess the scientific evidence base underlying current recommended best practices and identify critical research gaps.

This project will greatly strengthen the evidence available for protecting the health of the approximately 136,000 wastewater and sewer workers in the United States. In turn, because wastewater treatment plants are one of the main barriers to infectious disease transmission, protecting the health of the wastewater and sewer workforce will contribute to ensuring public health in U.S. communities.

If you are interested in attending this workshop, please contact

Dr. Jackie MacDonald Gibson, Associate Professor
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


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Megan Barillo

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