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From left, environmental science technicians David Chandler and Andrew Hobstetter, Environmental Media Supervisor Stacy Claggett, Construction Manager Brian Klaiber and Environmental Science Manager Marc Hill take a close look at new steps near a sedimentation and detention pond.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio — Environmental science technicians have upgraded their equipment and taken other steps to make jobs safer at EM’s Portsmouth Site, helping eliminate slip, trip and fall hazards at multiple difficult-to-reach locations.

Changes suggested by the technicians to remove hazards included installing stairs to ease the navigation of steep hillsides and using backpacks to carry samples and supplies. Within a short time, workers constructed steps in two locations, and the site selected ergonomic backpacks for use by the technicians.

“Our personnel are alert to changing conditions and anticipate potential changes,” Portsmouth Site Lead Jeremy Davis said. “This proactive approach benefits our workforce today and in the future.”

The technicians collect samples from the Portsmouth outfalls on a daily to annual basis, depending on the location, the samples being analyzed and permit requirements. In addition to regular samples, quality control samples are gathered, adding to the volume collected. Sample results are reported to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in monthly operating reports. Last year, approximately 358 samples were collected from the outfalls.

Access to some of the sampling locations can be problematic under certain weather conditions. In addition to installing steps with handrails, a non-slip tread was added to the steps and landing areas.

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Portsmouth Site Environmental Science Technician Richie Wagner uses a new backpack to carry sampling equipment to surface-water sampling locations.

Another safety measure recently implemented supports safer sampling at all locations. The technicians now wear new ergonomic backpacks with adjustable straps and lower back and hip support. This is considered a safer option for technicians instead of the coolers previously used for sampling equipment. Additionally, this will permit technicians to hold onto handrails for better balance on rough terrain.

“The technicians were enthusiastic when we presented the idea of the backpacks,” Environmental Media Supervisor Stacy Claggett said. “The fit is adjustable and can be utilized at 600 sampling locations both on- and off-site.”

Claggett added, “Options like these produce easier, safer and more efficient jobs for workers who bear the elements year-round to help meet site regulatory commitments."

-Contributor: Michelle Teeters