Hamilton Kent Blog

4 safety tips for any manhole type

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The average manhole system stays in place mainly by virtue of gravity, weighing in at more than 200 pounds — and, as a result, presenting a range of hazards to workers installing or working with the system.

Hamilton Kent’s Lifespan® System works differently: it’s a watertight manhole frame and cover system that locks down tight to the sanitary structure, keeping out inflow and infiltration. Although the Lifespan® design improves on many of the issues imposed by a traditional manhole system, it has its own set of safety rules and considerations.

With that in mind, remember these safety tips the next time you’re working with a manhole system.

1) Never lift the frame alone

The average cast-iron manhole frame weighs more than 250 pounds, requiring two or more people or heavy equipment to move it. The Lifespan® System weighs only 64 pounds, but that doesn’t mean you should lift it without help.

To prevent back injuries and avoid pinch points, we recommend at least two people lift the Lifespan® cover together using picks. This method works for cast-iron covers, which have pick holes on either side. The composite version has built-in handles, making it even easier to lift.

2) For off-road installations, choose an ergonomic design

When it comes to preventing inflow and infiltration, remote, off-road manhole locations tend to need the most attention. In these cases, it may be difficult to transport manhole frames across rough terrain or in areas with no road access.

The Lifespan® System’s lightweight, ergonomic design makes it much easier to carry without using heavy equipment. Two workers can transport its frame and cover to these hard-to-reach areas with comparatively little effort.

3) For on-road manholes, install below grade

Here’s another major safety tip for the Lifespan® System: install it a quarter inch to half an inch below grade. If the system is installed either at grade or above, it poses a safety risk to drivers and pedestrians.

A manhole jutting out on the road, for example, could interfere with snow plows if it’s not installed correctly. Because plows drag right against the ground, they could hit the cover and break the bolts, potentially affecting the product’s performance and causing issues for drivers.

Similarly, a manhole that sits too high on a sidewalk or walkway is a tripping hazard to pedestrians.

4) Practice general safety

In general, when working in and around manholes, workers should always follow common safety practices. Wearing the right gear, using proper equipment, protecting the work zone with signage and cones, and working carefully around aging or damaged structures are all paramount to avoiding injuries.

It’s also important to limit exposure to the hydrogen sulfite gas typically found in sewers. Extended exposure irritates the eyes and skin, produces a sore throat and cough, and causes headaches and nausea. It’s also highly flammable, so ignition sources are a no-no.

Need more pointers?

To ensure your watertight system works as safely and efficiently as possible, the Hamilton Kent team offers online Lifespan® installation training. Sign up here and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions.