Grease traps can be hazardous if not appropriately maintained and secured. Harm can befall workers and patrons if they trip over or fall into a grease trap that’s not properly covered. There are even life-threatening repercussions linked to maintenance if the grease trap is entered into without essential safeguards in place. Since many establishments have grease traps – including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, and food-processing plants – OSHA has released a grease trap hazard prevention bulletin in February of this year in hopes of preventing grease trap incidents.
What Are the Hazards Associated with Grease Traps?
Large capacity grease traps are typically located in the ground and are shielded by a manhole or similarly designed cover. Although located in areas most frequented by workers, unsupervised children can sometimes access these locations, so the cover must be secure to prevent both employee and patron harm. If a grease trap cover is not secure or is damaged during the cold weather months, a worker or customer can trip over the lid or potentially fall into the pit of the grease trap. This can result in serious injury or even drowning, as was unfortunate enough to happen to one child in the summer of 2019.
What are OSHA’s Standards for Grease Trap Hazard Prevention?
Taking into account the perils that can accompany a poorly maintained or unsecured grease trap, OSHA has assembled the following Walking-Working Standards for Grease Trap Hazard Prevention, as provided in OSHA’s Hazard Bulletin:
- To protect workers from tripping or falling, employers must install a guardrail system or use a cover for any hole that is less than 4 feet above a lower level – in this case, the depth of the grease trap.
- Covers must be capable of supporting at least twice the maximum load that can be imposed on it at any time.
- Covers must be properly secured to avoid accidental displacement.
- Walking-working surfaces – including covers – must be inspected regularly and as necessary and must be appropriately maintained.
Furthermore, if your grease trap is considered a confined space, you will have to follow an additional set of OSHA regulations.
What are OSHA’s Tips for Confined Space Hazard Prevention?
Grease traps that are large enough for bodily entry are considered permit-required confined spaces, according to OSHA’s Permit-Required Confined Spaces publication. If your grease trap meets this requirement, you must:
- Inform your employees of the hazards of the grease trap, post danger signs, and prevent unauthorized entry into the trap.
- Provide the appropriate protective gear when working around and maintaining the grease trap in accordance with general OSHA requirements.
- Abide by the several additional OSHA regulations for permit-required confined spaces.
Having a grease trap is essential for your business, so it’s vital to follow the advice in OSHA’s Grease Trap Hazard Prevention Bulletin to protect workers and patrons. Scheduling training and inspections from a company like Food Grease Trappers – with our 28 years of experience – is a valuable resource when it comes to strengthening these safety measures. Not only can we ensure your grease trap is up to OSHA standards, but we can also maintain and service it so that it’s capable of handling your establishment’s fat, oil, grease, and solid waste. Contact us today or reach out to receive a free consultation and quote.