Safety for water and wastewater system operators
Safety Requirements for handling Chlorine gas
Chlorine Gas Facts – When chlorine gas mixes with water one of the products produced is concentrated hydrochloric acid, which means when chlorine gas gets in your eyes it’s like splashing concentrated hydrochloric acid in your eyes, and you could go blind. If you inhale chlorine gas into your lungs it will mix with the moisture in your lungs and also make hydrochloric acid, which would be like drinking hydrochloric acid. This makes chlorine gas a very deadly gas. OSHA requires whenever you work with chlorine gas you must have two people present one in the chlorine room and one outside observing. This is the OSHA mandatory two-man policy.
Chlorine gas characteristics:
- It is toxic and very corrosive
- It is 2.5 times heavier than air. (It will collect in low places and will not float away without forced air ventilation)
- It has a greenish-yellow color and a very distinctive and pungent odor
- It has a very high coefficient, which means it has a tendency to expand even further if the temperature increases. It must be stored in storage facilities out of direct sunlight.
DEQ Chlorine gas facility construction requirements
- Chlorine gas must be stored in a facility by itself
- There must be a window in the door to the facility
- There must be a chlorine gas leak alarm system installed in the facility that will notify a 24-hour manned operation of a leak, fire station, police or main treatment facility.
- The facility must have an operational ventilation system that does one complete air change a minute.
All personnel who work with chlorine gas must be properly trained before working with it. If personnel are going to respond to chlorine gas leaks, OSHA requires they complete a 40-hour HAZWOPER class first and then have proper training on leak repair. Everyone who changes out chlorine gas bottles must be fit tested for a respirator and be trained on wearing a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
Don’t take chances with your life wear all the proper personal protective equipment including an SCBA whenever you are changing out a chlorine gas bottle. Owners are required by law to supply operators with all of the required safety equipment they need to work safely.