Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training Program Field Safety Plan

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Version 1.1


1. Document Purpose

This document outlines the roles, responsibilities, and planning/safety requirements and procedures that will cover field trips for the Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Program in support of the State of Utah Certification Program for On-Site Wastewater Treatment Professionals as well as miscellaneous field trips for university and community groups. The Utah On-Site Wastewater Treatment Program in under the direction of Judith Sims, Training Program Coordinator.

Field trips are conducted at

a.  Huntsman On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training On-Site Demonstration Site on the campus of Utah State University (USU) in the Wuthrich Orchard area; and

Wastewater Treatment Demo Site

b. Various locations around the State of Utah near Health Departments and other agencies that provide classroom facilities for certification workshops. These locations include, but are not necessarily limited to: TriCounty Health Department in Vernal, Weber-Morgan Health Department in Ogden, Central Utah Health Department in Richfield, Utah County Health Department in Provo, and Ash Creek Special Services District in Hurricane. The locations for field sessions may be countyowned properties, private property, USU property, or special service district property.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

2.1. Workshop Instructor

The individual who is instructing the class or tour that is visiting the Huntsman On-Site Wastewater Treatment Training On-Site Demonstration Site (Demo Site), i.e., the Workshop Instructor, will be responsible for safety considerations during the tour.

The Workshop Instructor is responsible for evaluating the weather at the Demo Site to ensure that tour participants are dressed for the weather and have any additional clothing appropriate for foreseeable changes in the weather as presented in the National Weather Service forecast for the area.

The Workshop Instructor should also inform tour participants about appropriate foot wear, as the Demo Site walkways are made of gravel.

The Workshop Instructor is responsible for guidance on where tour participants should park private vehicles to as to ensure that the road through the Demo Site is not blocked in case fire engines or other emergency vehicles need access to the area If the weather is expected to be so extreme as to impact educational activities (e.g., excessive heat, downpour of rain), the Workshop Instructor is responsible for cancelling the trip. If the trip is already underway, the group should return to the classroom.

Demo site tours typically last from one to three hours so sanitation facilities are not required on-site. The Demo Site is only ¼ mile from the Utah Water Research Laboratory, where sanitary facilities are available if necessary.

2.2. Demo Site Care-Taker

The Demo Site Caretaker, an individual (usually a USU student) who has been hired to maintain the site (e.g., mowing weeds and sterilizing walkways to reduce fire danger) and to prepare educational modules for tours, is responsible for ensuring that after tours have been completed, all pump basins and tanks are promptly and securely closed so persons who may travel through the site are not in danger of falling into unsecured tanks

The Demo Site Caretaker is also responsible for training new Site Caretakers on appropriate safety activities.

2.3. Field Session Instructors for Certification Workshops at Locations around Utah

Utah Administrative Code R317-4: Onsite Wastewater Systems requires that during a site evaluation to determine if a property is suitable for installation of a septic system:

  1. Soil conditions shall be obtained from soil exploration pit(s) dug to a depth of 10 feet in the absorption area, or to the ground water table if it is shallower than 10 feet below ground surface;
  2. In the event that absorption system excavations will be deeper than 6 feet, soil exploration pits shall extend to a depth of at least 4 feet below the bottom of the proposed absorption system excavation; and
  3. Soil exploration pits shall be constructed in a manner to reduce potential for physical injury. One end of each pit should be sloped gently or "stair-stepped" to permit easy entry if necessary.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for trenches state that:

  1. Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock.
  2. If less than 5 feet deep, an OSHA Competent Person may determine that a protective system is not required. OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper.
  3. OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow excavation (in relation to its length) made below the surface of the ground. In general, the depth of a trench is greater than its width, but the width of a trench (measured at the bottom) is not greater than 15 feet (4.6 m).

In order to provide a safe experience for workshop participants, soil pits for evaluation during field sessions do not conform to soil exploration pit requirements of R317-4 but are excavated 5 feet wide, 5 feet long, and 5 feet deep. These dimensions for soil evaluation pits are the same used by the Soils Judging Teams of the USU Plants, Soils, and Climate Department. The edges of the soil pits are marked with orange cones.

A licensed general contractor is responsible for digging the soil pits following directions provided by the field session instructor. The contractor is directed to contact Blue Stakes Utah (811) to determine if there are underground utilities present before beginning excavation. Entrances to the pits are sloped. "Sloping” means a method of protecting from cave-ins by excavating to form sides of an excavation that are inclined away from the excavation so as to prevent cave-ins. The contractor responsible for digging the soil evaluation pit is directed to close the pit promptly after use, as the pit could pose a danger to children, pets, and other domestic animals.

Field session instructors will be trained in OSHA excavation and trenching regulations and requirements and are designated at OSHA Competent Persons. Two field session instructors are present at all field sessions. At this time, one field session instructor, Margaret “Peg” Cashell has completed the OSHA training (Appendix A). Two more instructors will complete the training and testing during the winter of 2019/2020.

OSHA requires that a Competent Person must inspect conditions at a site on a daily basis and as frequently as necessary to make sure that the hazards associated with excavations are eliminated before anyone is allowed to enter. An OSHA Competent Person must:

  1. Possess a thorough knowledge of OSHA standards for excavations;
  2. Understand how to classify soil types;
  3. Know the different types and proper use of excavation safety systems, including protective systems; and
  4. Has the ability to recognize unsafe conditions, authority to stop work when unsafe conditions exist, the knowledge on how to correct the unsafe conditions, and does it.

2.4. Certification Workshop Participants at Field Locations around the State of Utah

During certification workshop classroom training, information is provided on OSHA safety requirements in soil evaluation pits. Therefore, workshop participants should demonstrate:

  • An understanding, based on training, but also based on their observations in the field, the hazards encountered on field trips;
  • Safe practices required while visiting the site; and
  • Communication to the field session instructor any issues with equipment, personal safety, or general concerns.

In addition to OSHA excavation and trench guidance, additional guidelines provided to the workshop participants include:

  • Use care while descending the ramp into the test pit, especially if the soil is loose or wet;
  • Never jump down into a test pit;
  • Have a plan of escape in the event of a sudden collapse;
  • Avoid entering any test pit that is not ramped or stepped;
  • Do not enter the pit if the bottom is full of water, which reduces the stability of the soil;
  • Do not enter the pit if the bottom is iced over;
  • Do not enter the pit if the soil from the pit is not piled at least 2 feet away from the pit’s edge;
  • Never enter a test pit if you see any underground utility lines;
  • Never enter a test pit if there is heavy equipment within 2 feet of the pit’s edge. Heavy equipment can create vibration and loosen the soil.

In addition, field session participants are responsible for any medications they may need if they are allergic to allergens that they may encounter in the field, such as bee or wasp stings.

3. Safety Considerations

3.1. First Aid Kits

A field first aid kit and the Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide are permanently located in the storage shed at the USU Demo Site. For field sessions at various locations around the State of Utah, the field session instructor has a first aid kit and the Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide included with equipment that is used for site evaluation activities. Hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion and oral antihistamines that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine will be included for treatment of allergic reactions

The first aid kit will be inspected after each trip. Used, opened, damaged, or expired items will be replenished as needed. An empty plastic bag will be included with the field kit for trash.

Instructors for Demo Site tours and for field sessions will participate in on-line First Aid training programs provided by the Red Cross. At this time, one instructor has done so (Margaret “Peg” Cashell) (Appendix B).

3.2. Emergency Care

The field session instructor is responsible for determining the location of the field site in case emergency care must be summoned. In some cases, the field site may not have a street address so GPS coordinates of the site will be determined. Before going to the site, the field session instructor also will determine the location of the closest hospital or emergency room.

3.3. Safety Training Requirements

The coordinator of the Utah Onsite Wastewater Treatment Program will review this document and the procedures with present USU Demo Site and field session instructors. Such a review will be a prerequisite to beginning work for new instructors. A similar review will also be undertaken at least annually for those associated with Demo Site tours and field sessions.

3.4. General Safety Considerations

The field session instructor will be aware of the following conditions and convey information to workshop participants as needed.

3.4.1. Weather Conditions

Most workshop field sessions are held in the spring, summer, and fall. Weather considerations that will be conveyed to workshop participants include:

  • Sunlight contains UV radiation, which can cause cataracts and skin cancer. Be sure to cover up and bring sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat and UV absorbent sunglasses.
  • Heat. Drink plenty beforehand and bring plenty of water. Generally, for a half-day trip with activity in the sun, bring 2-3 L of water. Water bottles will be available in the classroom before going to the field site. On very warm days, an ice chest with water bottles will be available onsite. Wear light loose clothing. Learn the signs of heat-related illness – clammy, profuse sweating, dizziness. Place an overheated person in the shade or in a cool vehicle. Loosen clothing and apply a cool wet cloth to face and neck. Vomiting suggests medical attention is needed.
  • Rain. Always prepare for changing weather conditions. When ground is wet, move slowly and safely as ground may become slippery.
  • Thunderstorms and Lightning: Avoid isolated tall trees. Lightning is likely to strike the tallest object in a given area (try not to be the tallest object). Avoid open areas. Retreat to dense smaller trees and low lying areas, and avoid water. Avoid metal objects like fencing and do not lean on concrete as it may have metal scaffolding inside. Never lie flat on the ground. The safest place to take cover is in a car or truck.

3.4.2. Possible Dangerous Conditions

There are a wide range and variety of animals living in the Utah. Bear, elk, moose, deer, and mountain goats are among the larger animals. Mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, fox, porcupines, raccoons, beaver, badgers, rabbits, weasels, squirrels, and pikas make up many of the smaller animals. Birds are abundant too, including eagles, owls, and hawks. Closer to the ground are lizards, rattlesnakes, and many insects.

Normal caution should be taken with any and all animals encountered in the field. Leave them be; they’re most likely trying to avoid you anyway. Serious risk is unlikely, but possible, and is posed largely by venomous snakes, spiders, and insects. Several rattlesnake species, venomous spiders (black widow spiders, hobo spiders, desert recluse spider (according to some), and perhaps others) may be encountered while in the field. Caution should be taken to avoid snakes and spiders should they fail to avoid you. Be aware of your surroundings and what is on the ground or in areas into which you may be reaching. Should you be bitten by something dangerous, you may not know immediately. Know which symptoms may indicate a snake or spider bite.

To identify a snake bite, consider the following general conditions (not an exhaustive list) (1):

  • Two puncture wounds
  • Swelling and redness around the wounds
  • Pain at the bite site
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating and salivating
  • Numbness in the face and limbs

Persons should take the following steps if they are bitten by a snake:

  • If you or someone you know are bitten, try to see and remember the color and shape of the snake, which can help with treatment of the snake bite.
  • Keep the bitten person still and calm. This can slow down the spread of venom if the snake is venomous.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Dial 911 or call local Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • Apply first aid if you cannot get the person to the hospital right away.
  • Lay or sit the person down with the bite below the level of the heart.
  • Tell him/her to stay calm and still.
  • Wash the wound with warm soapy water immediately.
  • Cover the bite with a clean, dry dressing.

What NOT TO DO if you or someone else is bitten by a snake:

  • Do not pick up the snake or try to trap it (this may put you or someone else at risk for a bite).
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.
  • Do not slash the wound with a knife.
  • Do not suck out the venom.
  • Do not apply ice or immerse the wound in water
  • Do not drink alcohol as a pain killer.
  • Do not drink caffeinated beverages.

To identify a spider bite, consider the following general symptoms (not an exhaustive list) (2):

Typically, a spider bite looks like any other bug bite — a red, inflamed, sometimes itchy or painful bump on your skin — and may even go unnoticed. Harmless spider bites usually don't produce any other symptoms.

Symptoms associated with spider bites can vary from minor to severe. Although extremely rare, death can occur in the most severe cases. Possible symptoms resulting from a spider bite include the following:

  • Itching or rash
  • Pain radiating from the site of the bite
  • Muscle pain or cramping
  • Reddish to purplish color or blister
  • Increased sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • High blood pressure

Persons should take the following steps if they are bitten by a spider:

  • Stay calm. Identify the type of spider if it is possible to do so safely. Identification will aid in medical treatment.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice to the bite area to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate bite area if possible.
  • Do not attempt to remove venom.
  • Immediately seek professional medical attention

Bee, wasp or hornet stings may also result in conditions requiring immediate attention (3).

General considerations for insect stings.

Be generally aware of your surroundings. Scan working and travelling areas, including above you and below platforms, looking for nests or hives. Do not disturb a nest or hive. If bees or wasps are present, walk calmly away and do not swat them. Do not step on bees/wasps as they can sometimes sting after death and the odor may attract more bees/wasps. Avoid bright clothing and strong smells (such as food).

Allergic Reaction

Personnel who have a known allergy to bee stings must inform their Demo Site or field session instructor (see Appendix C) before going to the field. This person must carry an Epi-pen. The location of the pen and its use should be known to the Instructor. After using an Epi-pen seek emergency medical assistance immediately (911 or emergency room).

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen and can be fatal. Sometimes, however, it can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Constriction of your airways and a swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and trouble breathing
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting

If any of these symptoms occur seek medical treatment immediately

Ordinary Bee Sting

For an ordinary bee sting that does not cause an allergic reaction, “home treatment” is enough. Multiple stings or an allergic reaction are a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Home treatments include:

  • If you can remove the stinger do so as soon as possible. Scrape the stinger out using a credit card, blunt knife, or fingernail. Do not try to remove a stinger below the skin surface. A stinger may not be present, only bees leave their stingers. Other stinging insects, such as wasps, do not.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water
  • Apply a cold compress
  • Take over the counter pain relievers as needed.
  • If the sting is on an arm or leg, elevate it.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling. • If itching or swelling is bothersome, take an oral antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine.
  • Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/snakebite.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/spiders/symptoms.html
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bee-stings/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353874 

4. Forms

All Demo Site tour participants and field session participants will be required to complete the Consent &
Assumption of Risk and Liability Form (Found in Printable Version).