California Wastewater Employee Accidents: Part 3

In the final blog post of this series, we’ll look at a few more incidents that show how quickly things can go wrong in seemingly routine situations.

Slipping out for a Bite

Two employees using a Hydro-Vac sewer cleaning truck worked past the lunch hour to get a job done and stopped on the way back to the company yard to get carryout food. When the worker on the passenger side exited the cab with the bag of food in one hand, he twisted around to grab a handrail with the other. As he turned, his foot slipped off the first of three narrow steps that formed a ladder down the side of the truck. He fell 35” to the ground fracturing his right elbow and bruising his face.

Takeaway: A fall of less than three feet hospitalized this worker. Failure to follow the “three points of contact rule” as he climbed down from the truck may have played a role in this accident. Ensuring workers have the time to take regularly scheduled breaks may help them feel less rushed, reducing the risk of accidents.

An ATV Ride Ends Badly

An employee was riding on the left rear fender of an all-terrain vehicle that was towing a bucket truck used to clean sewer lines. As ATV and bucket truck crossed a small canyon, they formed a sharp V with each other and the employee was crushed between the vehicles. She suffered fractured ribs and was hospitalized.

Takeaway: Moving vehicles that are connected may form an unexpected pinch point with a great deal of force when traveling over uneven terrain. Even on straight roadways, employees should never sit anywhere but in an approved seat.

Bouncing Down the Hill

An employee was setting out traffic horses during the installation of a sanitary sewer. The worksite was on a steep hill. The worker lost his footing and fell downhill into the trench. He landed on his right shoulder and bounced off an existing water line before falling to the bottom of the trench. He was hospitalized for a dislocated collarbone, broken shoulder blade, facial bruises, and cracked ribs.

Takeaway: The depth of a trench itself is only one factor that makes it hazardous. The grade of the surface leading down to the trench increases the risks of a fall, and protrusions in the trench can cause additional injuries on the way down.

What steps are you taking to review routine safety precautions and prevent injuries? DKF Solutions can help by bringing a fresh perspective to your safety program.

Cybersecurity: Water Utility Security Part 4

This week, we’ll explore the first two aspects of the AWWA’s guidelines for best practices: Governance & Risk Management and Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery.

The Big Picture for Security

In the world of cybersecurity for utilities, the area of Governance and Risk Management is the macro view. It identifies and defines those aspects of security that could impact the operations of the Agency. According to the AWWA: “This category is concerned with the management and executive control of the security systems of the organization; it is associated with defining organizational boundaries and establishing a framework of security policies, procedures, and systems to manage the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of the organization.”

Maintaining an accurate inventory of Process Control Systems (PCS) is the primary focus of governance and risk management for water utilities.  Such an inventory includes applications, data, servers, workstations, field devices, and communications/network equipment. Limiting the number of system components is a wise practice, since it makes management easier.

However, despite its lofty position at the top of the list, Governance isn’t given primary importance in terms of urgency. The AWWA recommends addressing immediate areas of significant risk and taking corrective action right away. Once the obvious gaping holes in cybersecurity have been plugged, it’s time to put Governance and Risk Management in place, making an ongoing commitment to security part of the organizational culture.

Getting Back to Business

Business Continuity focuses on ensuring availability even if there are faults in the system—avoiding the domino effect where one simple error or accident can shut down the entire process. Planning for this aspect of security starts with identifying what might go wrong and how it could impact the agency’s ability to deliver services. Having physical and virtual systems that are designed to fail over to a backup instead of crashing is important. On the cybersecurity side, using virtualization that redistributes computing loads to nearby nodes is an example of smart system design. In addition, the ability to manually override systems during an outage or cyberattack is essential.

Disaster Recovery deals with worst case scenarios that involve catastrophic failure due to natural or manmade causes. On-site and off-site database backups are vital to safeguard against prolonged shut-downs. An alternative method of communication should also be determined. Proper implementation includes putting together a crisis management team and testing the recovery system on a regular basis to ensure the plan will work in the real world.

Coming up next month, we’ll take a look at Server & Workstation Hardening and Access Control…