Unfortunately, accidents involving grease traps happen all the time. In response to a tragic accident where a young boy was killed in a grease trap accident in New York, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a bulletin that outlines dangers and provides guidelines on how to prevent grease trap accidents.
What are Grease Traps?
Grease traps or grease interceptors are wastewater filters that catch waste fats, oils, and greases to keep them from causing blockages in the sewer system. Grease traps are used in restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and other facilities that prepare and process food. Often, grease traps are mandated for high-volume food production businesses to prevent blockages in the local wastewater treatment system.
Grease Trap Covers
Commercial grease traps are usually underground. These large traps are secured by a metal manhole cover. The heavy metal covers are meant to prevent unauthorized access. In cases where the cover is improperly secured, accidents and injuries may result. A loose cover can become a tripping hazard. A cover that is not strong enough to hold a load placed on top can give way, opening dangerous access to the trap, which may allow a person to fall through the hole. Likewise, if the cover is removed entirely, the grease trap presents an obvious danger, someone could fall into the grease and water-filled pit below. Such falls cause serious injuries and even drownings.
Grease traps large enough to fit a person may be considered a confined space and require a permit. Permit-required confined spaces require employers to notify workers of the danger with hazard signs, and employers must also take measures to block unauthorized access. If an employer fails to post signs or practice preventative measures and an accident occurs, an employee might be eligible for a Workers’ Compensation claim.
To prevent danger for workers who must enter the trap to perform work duties, grease traps of a certain size must include a ladder to allow safe and effective egress from the grease trap.
Dangerous fumes can accumulate in grease traps, including methane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other gases that can make workers sick. Testing should be performed before workers enter the grease trap to be sure that oxygen content is at a safe level and that the contents are not flammable, toxic, or explosive.
Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Injured Workers
Workers in the food industry have a greater risk for an injury when grease traps are used on site. If you were hurt at work in an accident involving a grease trap, speak to one of our Bucks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. today. We can help you collect benefits to help with your injury. Contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we advocate for clients throughout Pennsylvania.