Guidance for Reducing Health Risks to Workers Handling Human Waste or Sewage

Workers who handle human waste or sewage may be at increased risk of becoming ill from waterborne diseases. To reduce this risk and protect against illness, such as diarrhea, the following guidance should be followed by workers and employers 1.

Guidelines

Workers handling human waste or sewage should be provided proper PPE, training on how to use it, and handwashing facilities. Workers should wash hands with soap and water immediately after removing PPE. The following PPE is recommended for workers handling human waste or sewage:

All workers who handle human waste or sewage should receive training on disease prevention. The training should include information on basic hygiene practices; use and disposal of personal protective equipment; and proper handling of human waste or sewage. Workers must also be urged to promptly seek medical attention if displaying any signs or symptoms of diarrhea, such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and watery diarrhea.

Vaccination recommendations for workers exposed to sewage or human waste should be developed in consultation with local health authorities. Tetanus vaccinations should be up to date, with consideration also given to the need for polio, typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations.

The recommendations made in this document are based on best practices and procedures. Worker health and safety risks are likely to vary among specific locations and a trained health and safety professional should be consulted to create site specific worker health and safety plans.

Reference
  1. CDC. Guidance for Controlling Potential Risks to Workers Exposed to Class B Biosolids. Cdc-pdf[PDF – 9 pages] National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health: 2002-149.