Group: The Hard Hat Crew
The 33, starring Antonio Banderas as Miner Mario Sepulveda, is a film based on a real life event of the 2010 mining disaster that took place in Chile where thirty three (33) men have been trapped inside the San Jose Mine for more than two months. It is commonly known as the Chilean mining accident. The occurrence is believed to have taken place due to the carelessness of the miners who disregarded the indications of the unsettled mine. There is only one way in and out and due to the instability of the mine, the pathway was blocked leaving the miners helpless.
There were certain healthy and safety matters that were identified throughout the movie. They would be discussed below as follows:
It can be seen that there is a new recruit on the mining team; a man from Bolivia. Upon entering the mine, he started coughing and asked one of his co-worker the duration of their trip. The co-worker responded, “Within an hour’s drive”. The new recruit does not have the proper attire (PPE); dust mask to be specific, since he is seen coughing constantly and seemed to be gasping for air. This can be a threat since the constant inhalation of the dust can affect one’s lungs eventually and pose to be of a severe danger to the new recruit. The risk to his health can depend on the nature of the dust particles and how much he inhaled. It can also form respiratory diseases such as lung cancer as well as asthma. Being in the mine for a considerable amount of time would increase the likelihood of health problems. In accordance with The OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, employees should be provided with appropriate protective clothing when entering an area within an industrial site.
Recommendations: Employers must ensure that all new recruits are properly informed of all the various procedures involved in the job before proceeding into the mine. They should also ensure that they are properly attired and have all necessary gears in the case of an emergency.
Biological Hazards include vermin, insects, fungi, pathogens, viruses and bacterial contaminants. Biological agents such as biological allergens, viruses, rickettsia, bacteria, micro-organisms, varying parasites and toxins. These agents are known for causing allergenic, carcinogenic, toxic and infectious reactions. Mines can be inhibited by animals such as rodents, bats, mites and cockroaches. This may lead to workers being bitten by insects. For example, mites.
Employees can be susceptible to skin diseases such as dermatitis. Dermatitis also referred to as mine dermatitis is seen as being chronic, unremitting and in some instances last for many years. There can also be a range of dermatology disorders related to this occupation. Infection usually begins at the hands followed by the feet and lastly generalized outbreaks.
Occlusive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in these confined hot environment encourages the growth of microorganisms and skin irritation. Moist environments promotes dermatophyte fungal and yeast infections. In addition, moist feet can cause bacterial infections.
Occupational lung diseases can lead to illness, premature retirement and in severe cases lead to death. There are other lung diseases such as occupational asthma, occupational cancers and inhalation injuries. The exposure to silica dust by miners can lead to silicosis, silicotuberculosis and other conditions such as tuberculosis, emphysema, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, and in some instances no pulmonary lesions.
According to the OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago;Section 48(1)
“Where a medical practitioner who, having attended to a patient, forms the opinion that the patient is suffering from an occupational disease contracted in any industrial establishment or in the course of his employment, he shall within forty-eight hours of having formed that opinion send to the Chief Medical Officer a notice stating the disease from which the medical practitioner is of the opinion that the patient is suffering and the industrial establishment in which the patient is and was last employed.”
Recommendations: Employees should have medical surveillance and biological monitoring thus promoting health and safety of the employees. The former is a planned periodic examination carried out by an occupational health practitioner or an occupational medical practitioner. These programs can include biological monitoring, medical testing or clinical examinations. Moreover, the medical practitioner is supposed to be able to identify characteristics of occupational lung disease when creating the medical surveillance program, appropriate treatment and diagnosis. A surveillance record of each employee should be kept when exposed to a health hazard. When looking at biological monitoring, there is periodic collection and analysis of body fluids, tissues, excreta or exhaled air to be able to detect and quantify any expose or absorption of any substance or organism. Appropriate PPE and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) are crucial to miners to protect against these hazards.
There should be an occupational hygienist to carry out procedures to measure levels of exposure to the hazards at the mine. The occupational hygienist should be able to anticipate, identify, evaluate and mitigate or control conditions which may cause illness or a health hazard resulting in adverse effects to the employee(s).
The mountain was on the verge of collapsing and it can be seen that there were two workers at the cliff’s edge, where they were standing discussing a matter. Upon noticing that the entire area was shaking, they became curious. It was noticed that one of the two workers eventually slipped due to the constant shaking within the mine. His co-worker desperately tried in assisting him back to the top.This poses to be a serious hazard since there was not any barrier put in place to safeguard the workers. Many people can fall over the cliff if they had not noticed that there was one. This would lead to workers being left with broken bones, both internal and external bleeding and may even cause deaths depending on how critical the situation is. Falling debris from blasting in addition to accidents caused by operation of heavy machinery can be some of the physical hazards which can occur during the mining process.
Recommendations: Employers must ensure that they place safety signs where necessary throughout the mine. This would allow employees to grasp a knowledge of where the dangers are and act accordingly. They can also build a protective barrier; that way no one can fall over when they are not aware that there is even a cliff located in that area. Darkness can be a factor as well; so they must ensure that their headlights work at all times.
The miners were observed using heavy diesel machinery and blasting kit. The noise generated from these equipments can cause severe trauma to one’s ears. Miners were observed not wearing any earmuffs or earplugs. Both long term and short term physical hazards can stem from this breach, resulting in loss of hearing, bleeding of the eardrum or further medical complications.
Recommendations: In order to prevent this, they should ensure that the equipment is well maintained to avoid excessive vibration and also cut down on the time each worker is spending on a vibrating surface.
The vehicle transporting men out of the mine eventually crashed into a pile of debris blocking the pathway out (obstruction of the pathway). This resulted in the crack of the wind shield and the breakage of the windows. There is the potential of being cut by glass and even piercing through the layer of skin and causing bodily harm. Also, there could have been the puncture of internal organs which would then result in death. The further collapse of the mine led to an explosion. The hazard involved here could be flying objects. It can be seen that one of the vehicles exploded. The flying pieces of metal and rocks can cause severe damage to workers. It is seen in the movie that the miners went in search for the medical supplies but only found an empty kit. This precisely is not in accordance with the OSH Act as it states fully equipped medical kits should be available and ready to be used when needed.
Recommendations: In order to resolve this problem, management must ensure that their employees are properly trained and experienced in handling first aid;should a situation arise.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Hazards
Personal protective equipment (PPE) are used to protect workers against health or safety risks at work. PPE are very important as they reduce risks associated with hazards such as physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. PPE can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE). In the movie “The 33” there are several violations of insufficient/improper use of PPE under the OSH Act. For example, miners initially wore basic PPE at the beginning of the movie. The miners attire consisted of coveralls with reflective stripes, gloves, and eye protection. However, upon further investigation it was found that some of the miners wore sneakers instead of safety shoes (steel cap) during the mining process. This is a major breach in the OSH Act. Additionally, mining within a claustrophobic, poorly lit environment can severely elevate physical risks. Another violation of PPE can again be seen during the mining process. Lastly, during the process of mining, it was observed that most miners were not wearing any dust mask or respiratory protective gear. Accumulating gold flecks and dust particles (micro-organic matter) can be seen throughout the mining process of the movie. If no RPE were not used, over time the continuous inhalation of dust and gold fleck particles can cause the development of Miner’s Lung Disease or Sarcoidosis as mentioned in the movie. Routine expose of such conditions, evidently breaches the OSH Act, resulting in both long-term and short-term physical and biological hazards.
According to the OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago, all persons entering an area in an industrial organization where they are likely to be exposed to the risk of head, eye, ear, hand or foot injury, injury from air contaminant or any other bodily injury, shall be provided with suitable protective clothing or devices of an approved standard and adequate instruction in the use of such protective clothing or devices, and no person shall be permitted to be in any such area unless he is wearing such protective clothing or device (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).
Recommendations: Operation supervisors in addition to miners should pay close attention to both PPE & RPE required for mining. Appropriate mining gear should be implemented to all miners. Corrective mining gear should mitigate most risks associated with hazards such as physical, electrical, heat, chemicals, biohazards, and airborne particulate matter. Miners should be equipped with steel capped safety shoes that is ISO 20345:2011 rated (International Organization for Standardization, 2011-2012), to prevent injury from falling debris or during the use of any heavy equipment. Miners should always consider wearing earmuffs or disposable ear plugs that is ISO/TS 4869-5:2006 rated, during all mining process as heavy equipment and blasting can cause severe injury to one’s ear drum and other connective tissue. Lastly, miners should always wear dust masks or respirators during all mining process. Dust mask and respirators should have a rating of FFP2, which prevent moderate levels of dust (A Complete Guide to Dust Masks Ratings, 2018). The use of RPE, is vital to one’s health as dust particulate and organic matter can enter the lungs causing numerous health implications.
Light ergonomics is the relationship between the light source and the individual. Poor lighting can cause several problems such as, insufficient light (not enough light for the needed purpose), glare (too much light for the needed purpose), improper contrast, poorly distributed light and flicker (Roth, n.d.). In the movie “The 33” it was observed that the lighting conditions within the mine was very poor. Miners were constantly relying on the safety lights from their helmets to navigate throughout the mine. Additionally, during the mining process, it was also observed that the mine struggled from insufficient lighting, presenting several physical hazards. For general tunneling operations, a minimum illumination intensity of 5 foot-candles is required, although 10 foot-candles must be provided for shaft heading during drilling.
Poor lighting ergonomics is a severe breach in the OSH Act. Physical hazards are more likely to occur due to the inability to properly navigate or perform mining operations. According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, in every part of an industrial establishment where employees are working or passing, there shall be provided and maintained sufficient and suitable lighting, natural or artificial, or both, in accordance with approved standards (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004). Additionally, the doors, exit or exit routes mentioned in subsection (4) shall be fitted with emergency lighting and well maintained luminous or illuminated exit signs if the industrial establishment is used at night or where insufficient lighting is likely to occur during an electrical power failure (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).
Poor lighting ergonomics is a severe breach in the OSH Act. Physical hazards are more likely to occur due to the inability to accurately navigate or perform mining operations.
Recommendations: A suitable lighting system should be implemented throughout the tunnel, shaft and mining area. Visibility throughout the mine should be at least 10 foot of candles of visibility. Additionally, tunnels, shaft and mining area should have a backup emergency lighting system. This is necessary in an emergency or failure of primary lighting system. The emergency lighting system should comprise of illuminated directed pathways, indicating the nearest exit or safe zone. Lastly, a proper communication station should be implemented, if total failure of visibility throughout the mine occurs.
Health and Safety Kit Hazard
(Kit, HSE 20 Person Workplace)
After the event of the mine collapsing, it was observed that miners were unable to treat their wounds due to the medical storage being empty. This is a major breach in the OSH Act as workers should be provided with adequate medical supplies during working hours. This Act is especially important for employees that work within hazardous environments, as the risks of accidents are most likely to become elevated within such environment. According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “there shall be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible a first-aid box or cupboard of the standard prescribed by the Schedule to these Regulations and where more than one hundred and fifty persons are employed an additional box or cupboard for every additional one hundred and fifty persons.” (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).
Recommendations: To mitigate any potential risks, a medical data sheet (MDS) should be made of all past and present employees, stating their current conditions as well as any ailment or medical conditions. A suitable first aid box should be made in correlation to the MDS document, in the event of an injury or ailment.
Emergency Exit Hazard
In the movie it was observed that vehicles as well as miners entered a single pathway at the entrance of the mine. This single pathway served as both exit, entrance and primary emergency exit. This is a major concern as (1) in the event of an emergency the primary exit may become over crowded as miners evacuate the mine (2) if the primary emergency exit is blocked or becomes impassable workers may overcrowd the flow of the secondary emergency causing a reduction in the flow of traffic that can possibly result in several physical hazards. Additionally, the secondary emergency exit located at the top of the mine is incomplete as mentioned in the movie. The continuous flow of ladders at the secondary emergency exit were never completed. It was later revealed that the owners of the gold mine did not fully complete the secondary exit due to shortage of funding. This is a severe breach in the OSH Act as miners can become trapped within the mine stemming from failure to provide an appropriate evacuation sites/strategies. According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “ Where in an industrial establishment more than twenty persons are employed in the same building above the ground floor, or where explosive or highly flammable materials are stocked or used in a building where persons are employed, effective steps shall be taken to ensure that all employed persons are familiar with the means of escape, their use and the routine to be followed in case of fire and a record of the number and frequency of evacuation drills shall be kept and presented, on demand, for inspection by the fire authority.” (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT, 2004).
Recommendations: It is the duty of any organization to ensure that exit strategies are put in place in case of an emergency. It is recommended that multiple emergency exits are constructed and that all exits are well lit with appropriate illuminated directional signage. Each exit must take into consideration the volume of traffic flow correlating to the amount of employees within the establishment. All employees should also undergo monthly emergency drills, to familiarize oneself with the proper evacuation methods.
A Psychological hazard can be defined as the aspects of the working environment that are thought to have the potential to affect negatively the well-being of employees. These negative effects of psychological hazards are often referred to as “strain” (The Institute for Employment Studies for the health and Safety Executive, 2001). In the movie “The 33” the workers working in the mines were faced with various psychological hazards. The first of these psychological hazards were the living and working conditions of the miners who were trapped in the mines. Being under these conditions caused mental issues and stresses to the workers of the mine. This was made even worse due to the temperatures which the miners faced in the mines which exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago, under the section of ventilation, “Every occupier of an industrial establishment that is not ventilated by a functioning air-conditioning system shall secure and maintain therein adequate and suitable ventilation by the circulation of fresh air.” This means that the mines were to be inspected and ensured that the workers’ working environment were at the right temperature to ensure the safety of the workers.
Another psychological hazard faced by the working in the movie “The 33” is that the workers were forced to work under the constant fear of working in an environment where there is only one exit and entrance to the mine. This took a mental toll on the workers who had to do their jobs knowing that in the event of an emergency they had no alternative escape route to exit the mines. According to Section 28 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago, “Where in an industrial establishment more than twenty persons are employed in the same building above the ground floor, or where explosive or highly flammable materials are stocked or used in a building where persons are employed, effective steps shall be taken to ensure that all employed persons are familiar with the means of escape, their use and the routine to be followed in case of fire and a record of the number and frequency of evacuation drills shall be kept and presented, on demand, for inspection by the fire authority.” As a result, the organization in charge of the mining site should develop their mines with various access points as to allow employees working in the mine an alternative emergency exit route. By adding these alternative exit routes it can present workers with a sense of peace of mind as they know that if there is any unforeseen event in the mine such as a collapse they are able to exit the mines safely.
The workers also experienced an incredible unease as the mines constantly tumbled due to its instability. This made workers of the mines think that the working environment was not safe for work.
It clearly shows that health and safety aspects should be considered with utmost consideration within the workplace as it can lead to an effective and efficient organization. Management needs to ensure that they equip their workers with the right tools when conducting an operation; in this case they should ensure that the miners have all necessary equipment including medical kits before entering the industrial site.They should also establish educational programs to enlighten their workers on all the risks involved when conducting certain works especially before entering the mine. The discussion above therefore makes us wonder all the calamities that can formulate and everything that should be regarded within our surroundings.
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