Don't Forget the Element of Surprise

Safety must be on the mind of anyone working on or near a landfill. Landfill gas can be deadly - it can cause explosions, asphyxiation, as well as transport other deadly gases such as hydrogen sulfide and a host of carcinogens.

Additionally, active landfill operations, biohazards, electrical hazards, heat or cold stress, mechanical accidents related to equipment operation, noise hazards, and collapse hazards can add to a landfill's list of dangers. Therefore, consider the potential affects of landfill gas on a site, as well as take precautions to prevent it from migrating to unexpected locations.

To prevent accidents, create a site safety plan that is adhered to and monitored. The plan should investigate the individual site, identify potential dangers and contain contingency plans. It also should be re-evaluated and monitored regularly and as conditions change.

At a minimum, a site safety plan should:

* Designate a site safety officer;

* Designate the time and place for safety meetings;

* Describe the physical site;

* Include a site history, including a listing of materials that have been placed onsite and a list of materials suspected to be remaining onsite;

* Describe the work to be performed;

* Evaluate potential hazards, including chemical, mechanical, physical, community and general dangers; and

* Include safety directives, noting required personal protection equipment, air monitoring guidelines, measures to control offsite migration, decontamination measures, emergency response information and emergency notification information.

Regardless of how detailed a safety plan is, it won't work without the full commitment of everyone working with the project. Employees, suppliers, subcontractors and engineers all must be informed and involved.

Remember that nothing in LFG management is worth life or limb. LFG maintains the element of surprise, so always be prepared.