What’s Your Cure for the Summertime Blues?

We dive into several timely topics of interest to the pumper community.

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It’s time to reach into the email bag for some newsworthy items for your consideration: 

Wearing shorts? 

Recently I received a timely question from a reader as pumpers work through the hottest part of the summer season. The owner of a pumping company wanted advice on whether or not technicians should be allowed to wear shorts on the job. I turned to Jeff Wigley, who writes a portable sanitation column in COLE Publishing’s PRO magazine, and is actively involved in the education efforts of the Portable Sanitation Association International. 

Jeff, who with his wife, Terri, owned Pit Stop Portable Restrooms in Atlanta for many years, did have a straightforward policy about employees wearing shorts in the sweltering Georgia heat. He explained that any driver pumping restrooms would be required to wear long pants for greater safety from exposure to wastewater splashes or spills. Drivers confined to making deliveries of new units — particularly for larger special event orders — were allowed to wear shorts for greater comfort. 

Jeff shared an article about safety guidelines from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration that said, surprisingly, the federal safety organization does not take a definitive position on employees wearing shorts. OSHA leaves the issue of service providers wearing short or long pants up to individual businesses. It recommends companies consider hazards like exposure to chemicals or pathogens and worker comfort in extreme conditions when setting dress code and safety policies. 

OSHA Regulation 1910.132a says that protective clothing should be provided and maintained when hazards are present, mentioning “environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants.” 

So how do you handle the shorts vs. long pants issue at your pumping company? Share your policies and we’ll report on them in a future issue of Pumper.

Hiring college athletes as pitchmen

As expected, college athletes have been cashing in on endorsement deals since the NCAA suspended its name, image and likeness rules in July 2021. To derive income from their star status, athletes immediately began pitching goods and services for a fee. Shoe companies and major national companies became obvious targets from the start. But portable restrooms?

In the first wastewater industry endorsement deal I’ve seen, Kansas State football players Deuce Vaughn and Felix Anudike-Uzomah, and volleyball player Aliyah Carter, starred in a humorous commercial for Cat Cans Portable Services of Manhattan, Kansas, company that provides restrooms, septic service, inspections, repairs and installs. The company, which Matt and Aricca Wallace started in 2010, displays the commercial at its website, catcansofmanhattan.com.

In the commercial, Vaughn, a running back who gained 1,400 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 2021, is turned away from several portable restrooms with signs that say “No Deuces Allowed.” It all ends well when Vaughn finds relief in a Cat Cans VIP restroom trailer. Throughout the spot, Cat Cans shares its story of providing quality service and cleanliness. 

I could envision hiring student-athletes would be a popular move for PROs, especially the companies that provide restroom service to college football stadiums or other campus sports venues. Will we see more portable sanitation companies kick off such advertising campaigns at the start of the upcoming football season? Time will tell.

Let me know if you have plans to use college athletes to promote your business.

Promote regular tank inspections.

In a horrifying news story out of Florida, a 74-year-old woman was found dead recently after her septic tank lid apparently collapsed while she was gardening and she fell in, with her body found later in the tank. An investigation revealed that the septic tank was installed in 2004 and there was no record of it having been serviced since then.

“It appeared to be a completely freakish-type incident that you would never think would happen,” said Josh Taylor of the North Port Police Department. But maybe we all need to do a better job educating septic system users about the importance of regular maintenance to potentially prevent sad stories like this one. 

ABC7-TV interviewed pumper Martin Guffey, of Martin Septic Service in North Port, who reinforced the message that all concrete septic tanks should be inspected periodically for corrosion caused by hydrogen sulfide gas, as well as basic pumping and maintenance. News reports said corrosion of the concrete tank likely played a role in this tragedy, though the investigation was ongoing. 

The Florida Department of Health weighed in. 

“Regrettably, there is no state law or regulation requiring homeowners to service their septic system. The Health Department recommends any home with a septic system to have the system pumped and evaluated every three to five years or sooner if the system is showing any signs of malfunction,” the DOH said in a statement following the incident.

Secure precious fuel supplies

With record fuel costs this summer, pumpers and portable restroom companies need to protect their gas and diesel bulk supplies. Lock the fence into your yard. Padlock your storage tanks. Add more lighting and cameras to keep an eye out for pilfering. Evidence of this concern was a recent theft of diesel fuel reported by Blu Site Solutions in Wilson’s Mills N.C. 

According to the Wilson’s Mills Police, two men were arrested for siphoning fuel from bulk tanks into a tank inside an enclosed trailer. The incident was caught on a security camera. Responding officers arrested one of the men in the company’s yard, while the second man fled the scene on foot. The second thief was arrested the next day when he showed up at the police department to pick up his truck and wallet, which was left in the truck. He told police the truck had been borrowed the night before. The surveillance video proved otherwise, the police told the Johnson County Report. 

With the rising price of fuel, these thefts have become more serious offenses lately. This same pair were thought to be responsible for another theft of 500 gallons of fuel, valued at $2,600. This is a timely reminder for pumping companies —which burn through untold gallons of diesel — to take all necessary precautions to prevent fuel theft.  


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