Safe-T-Cover Encourages Use of Above Ground Backflow Enclosures for Safety Purposes

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Utility vaults are dangerous for a number of reasons - the most important being that they put lives at risk on a daily basis. Safe-T-Cover is strongly recommending engineers and municipalities to, ‘Think Outside the Vault.’

Think Outside the Vault

Safe-T-Cover Encourages Use of Above Ground Backflow Enclosures for Safety Purposes

“I've heard a hundred stories across the country of people jumping down into a vault and immediately dropping dead. And if they have somebody with them, they jump down there to help them and they die immediately.”

Backflow preventers are critical to protecting our water supply. They keep contaminated water from coming in contact with drinking water. This is called a cross-connection. But many backflow preventers are installed in utility vaults, which increases the risk of cross-connection and the dangers for the people who test backflow preventers.

Why? OSHA considers utility vaults confined spaces and defines the risks associated with them.

They include:

  • Poisonous gasses
  • Restricted means of entry and exit
  • Entrapment

Reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Program show that nearly 100 people die in confined spaces each year. An underground utility vault is a confined space, which OSHA investigators say accounts for nearly 100 deaths each year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than 11,000 injuries annually.

“I've heard a hundred stories across the country of people jumping down into a vault and immediately dropping dead. And if they have somebody with them, they jump down there to help them and they die immediately,” says Cary Wiley, National Sales Manager at Safe-T-Cover.

“Odorless gasses can naturally build up in a vault, so you go in there thinking everything is ok and all of a sudden, you have a colleague passed out in this vault,” according to Safe-T-Cover Vice President Chris Nickoloff.

It’s not just the presence of noxious gasses that can be a threat. These deaths can be caused by oxygen deficiency, combustible dust, and even radiation.

In addition to the deaths, nearly 800 serious injuries are reported annually in confined spaces. Not to mention the dangerous animals and poisonous bugs backflow preventer test personnel may come across.

And when a vault floods the risk for a cross-connection increases significantly. “All that stagnant, dirty, muddy, horrible water can get sucked through the test cocks of the backflow preventer and into your clean drinking water,” Wiley says.

Nickoloff adds, “You've got this valve that is protecting bad water from mixing with good water. And when these vaults are flooded, the bad water can get into the good water, which goes into your home, and could cause you to get sick.”

In short, when things go wrong in a vault, they can go horribly wrong. This is why more and more water jurisdictions are opting to install backflow preventers above ground in a backflow enclosure.

So Safe-T-Cover is asking designers and engineers across the country to “Think Outside The Vault.” Installing backflow preventers and meters in utility vaults is an unnecessary liability for water jurisdictions, so we’re encouraging a bigger push to install them above ground in a backflow enclosure. It’s much safer and more cost-effective.

Stop putting your employees, and the community at risk.

Learn more about the dangers associated with utility vaults by visiting Safe-T-Covers website and watching this video. For additional blogs, infographics, and other resources visit us at Safe-T-Cover.com. Or to schedule an interview with Mr. Wiley or Mr. Nickoloff, email Dave Grendzynski at Kuno Creative Digital Marketing at dgrendzynski@kunocreative.com. They’re qualified to speak on a number of topics from backflow installation and design to how to work with local water purveyors on integrating new standard details.

About Safe-T-Cover: Safe-T-Cover, http://www.safe-t-cover.com, helps engineers and municipalities protect important industrial equipment and water infrastructure. We're engineers by training and temperament and we come to work each day to help engineers create the ideal solution to their protection requirements. In addition to helping water purveyors develop standard details to simplify the implementation of new approaches, we are able to work with engineers to provide pricing, piping drawings, and specs for a project within a couple of days. And by helping you design the perfect enclosure for your requirements, we'll help you save big over time.

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Brooke Bogdan
Safe-T-Cover
+1 440-261-5016
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