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Health Risks of Working In A Sewer

Image of a sewer.

What is sewage?

This may be used to describe raw sewage, sewage sludge, or septic tank waste. Raw sewage is mainly water containing human waste, industrial effluent and debris, such as sanitary towels, condoms, plastic etc. The major source of harmful micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites is sewage; although sewage treatment does reduce the water content and removes debris it does not kill or remove all the micro-organisms. Exposure to sewage or its products may result in a number of illnesses.

These include: gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and vomiting; Weil’s, damage to liver, kidneys and blood may occur and the condition can be fatal; hepatitis, and jaundice; occupational asthma, infection of skin or eyes; and/or rarely, allergic alveolitis fever, breathlessness, dry cough, and aching muscles and joints.

How do micro-organisms enter the body?

Micro-organisms can enter your body through various ways but the most common way is by hand-to-mouth i.e. eating, drinking, smoking. They can also enter through skin contact via cuts, scratches or penetrating wounds; there are also certain organisms that can enter through the surface of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Prevent The Spreading Of Germs

There are various methods that have been discovered to prevent the spreading of germs in the workplace and at home. A prime example would be to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

Avoid close contact. 

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

Stay home when you are sick. 

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

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