OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


1 Comment

THE FLOODING IS IMMINENT!

coollogo_com-8291349

Flood_Insurance_full  One to two hours of rainfall raises this question about life in Trinidad and Tobago: Would you rather have perfect beach weather, blazing hot sun and a dry yard? Or rain, and a soggy carpet? Again.

For the past few years, it seems as though this problem is getting worse. We can no longer sit back and enjoy the soothing sound of the rain beating against the windows or the delectable smell after the rains cool the blistering asphalt after a long day or week of sweltering sunshine. Now, we scramble to make sure nothing valuable is near the floor and no electronics are plugged in and out of reach of the disaster that we know is coming.

So, what is flood? Many of us have this idea that floods or flooding is simply, too much water around your house. People think that can be fun. Wrong! Flooding is a lot more than that. Flooding is extremely dangerous and has the potential to wipe away an entire city, coastline or area, and cause extensive damage to life and property. It also has great erosive power and can be extremely destructive, even if it is a foot high.

There are many types of flooding that can occur:

 Riverine Flooding – This usually occurs when a river overflows its banks. It is usually due to the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding its capacity and overflowing its banks. It can also occur when the velocity of the river is so high that it flows right out of the river channel, usually at bends. We typically see this kind of flooding at the Caroni River and Basin. (pictured below)

caroniriver

Coastal Flooding –  The sea can overflow flood defences such as sea walls, due to a heavy storm,  a high tide, a tsunami or a combination thereof. Trinidad and Tobago recently experienced a devastating example of this when the Manzanilla/Mayaro sea wall was thundered and topped over by raging sea waters, taking the road with it.

Flash flooding – This is a flood that rises and falls rapidly with little or no advance warning. Flash floods usually result from intense rainfall over a relatively small area. This is the category of flooding that regularly  occurs throughout Trinidad and Tobago, particularly the Port of Spain and the University of the West Indies. (south gate at the UWI below)

south gate

Urban flooding –  This occurs as a result of land development. Permeable soil layers are being replaced by impermeable paved surfaces, through which water cannot infiltrate. This leads to greater runoff being generated, which can make rivers out of roadways and ponds out of car parks. Once again, we see this type of flooding in Port of Spain (pictured below). Since the capital is made up mostly of reclaimed land, the sea and rivers have been redirected. However, that can’t stop them forever.

urbanflooding

When parts of the country flooded again and again, some looked to the hills, blaming deforestation on the elevated regions for the floods in the low-lying areas. Some focused on the drains, pointing fingers at the failure to maintain clear watercourses . There are many areas in the region that may be prone to severe flooding especially those areas where drainage is poor and dumping of rubbish is rampant.

Because of this the society is exposed to numerous risks of such flooding including a major health risk and hazard.  But what really causes the constant invasion by flood waters? Is it just one problem or a combination of many? Floods can stem from a number of events both natural and human made, including:

Prolonged and Heavy Rainfall.- When rain falls for a prolonged period of time, the soil can become saturated. When water is unable to infiltrate into the saturated soil, it is forced to flow over the soil, thus increasing surface runoff.  When rain falls heavily; the rain drops hit the ground with a force. This can cause the rain drops to bounce off the soil instead of infiltrating into the soil. The water from the rain is then forced to flow over the surface instead, thus increasing the surface runoff.

Deforestation – The lack of vegetation encourages water to flow over the surface rather than infiltrate into the soil thus increasing surface runoff. We see cases of this on a day to day basis. Whenever we drive to Maracas, past the Northern Range, there are clear signs of deforestation on the hilltops, which are being used for quarrying or urbanization (pictured below).

deforestation north

Poor land use practices – Slash and burn agriculture, over-cultivation and over-grazing eventually cause the soil to become infertile and unable to sustain vegetative growth. Consequently, the lack of green cover encourages water to flow over the surface rather than infiltrate into the soil. The Caroni plains is perhaps the best example of over-cultivation. From being used to grow sugar cane for a number of years, to now being used for rice and other produce (pictured below).

caroni plains

Urbanization – This leads to the replacement of permeable soil with that of an impervious layer of pitch and concrete, through which water cannot infiltrate. This results in increased surface runoff which leads to flash flooding.

chem dpt 2

Improper waste disposal– Oftentimes, garbage that is not properly disposed enters into drainage systems and clogs drains. This obstructs the free flow of the water that enters into these drains causing water to back up during rainfall flooding the surrounding area. A build up of garbage can also obstruct the natural flow of water in rivers and streams. Trinidadians seem to have a blatant disrespect for the environment, this can be seen by the hoards of rubbish that line the streets, river, streams daily. We see drivers throwing garbage out their vehicles on the highway and then wonder why our country floods every time a bit of rain falls (pictured below).

waste

Quarrying  – This is the clearing of land for the removal of aggregates (mainly sand and gravel) which is to be utilized in the construction industry. The action of quarrying leaves land bare and devoid of any trees and shrubs hence increasing surface runoff produced. This is not a new occurrence in Trinidad and Tobago. It seems as though there is a quarry everywhere we turn.  Toco, Arima, Matura, Valencia and Santa Cruz just to name a few of the locations. – Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management

The Trinidad Express composed an article within which they interviewed the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute and its executive director. The article consisted of the causes of flooding in Trinidad and Tobago over the last 40 years. They noted “Data collected over a span of 40 years by the Meteorological Office at Piarco has shown that there has been no significant change in the volume of water, measured in inches, that falls year round. CARDI’s executive director, Arlington Chesney, said this data highlights the need for a proper development policy.  “What has changed isn’t the rainfall, it’s our land management,” Chesney said during a recent interview.  “It’s the same volume of water but, in many instances, it simply has nowhere to go and we get the level of flooding we have been seeing in recent years.”

Unchecked housing developments, the changing of water courses and denudation  of the hills are among the causes cited for the poor drainage and flooding being experienced around the country during heavy rainfall. “

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Poor_drainage__not_rain__blamed_for_floods-145709225.html

Where there’s flood, there’s dirty water and where there’s dirty water, there are many risks involved. Flooding brings about a whole catalogue of chemical, physical, electrical, psychological and biological hazards. Biological hazards can come in the form of infections due to bacteria that causes diseases and viruses. Flooding poses risks to people’s health and well-being. It causes a vast number of illnesses, and waterborne diseases such as- cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid. It even leads to an increase in the amount of mosquitoes spreading malaria and other fatal illnesses.

Our drinking water may also be contaminated with various pollutants such as sewage, human and animal waste, and poisonous substances like oil, insecticides and other industrial chemicals. When persons consume this water they are susceptible to the waterborne disease which are very dangerous to life.

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) – Rod-shaped bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination.
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS
  • Leptospirosis – an infectious bacterial disease occurring in rodents, dogs, and other mammals, which can be transmitted to humans.
  • Shigellosis – an intestinal disease caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The main sign of shigella infection is diarrhea, which often is bloody. Shigella can be passed through direct contact with the bacteria in the stool.
  • Skin Infections
  • Tetanus – Tetanus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which is commonly found in soil, dust and manure. The bacteria generally enter through a break in the skin such as a cut or puncture wound by a contaminated object. They produce toxins that interfere with muscle contractions, resulting in the typical symptoms

Another type of hazard that one should be on the lookout for during flooding are physical hazards. Physical hazards are probably the most notorious dangers that are present during a flood. These can range from electrical hazards, water damage to the body and environment.

  • Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, occurs when the feet are wet for long periods of time. Symptoms of trench foot include a tingling and/or itching sensation, pain, swelling, cold and blotchy skin, numbness, and a prickly or heavy feeling in the foot. Blisters may form, followed by skin and tissue dying and falling off.  In severe cases, untreated trench foot can involve the toes, heel, or entire foot.
  • Drowning – Flood water poses drowning risks for everyone, regardless of their ability to swim. Swiftly moving shallow water can be deadly, and even shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children. Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. They can be swept away or may stall in moving water.
  • Injuries – Flood waters may contain sharp objects, such as glass or metal fragments, that can cause injury and lead to infection. Wood, metal and other objects are being swept by fast moving water or are being covered by high waters making them unable to be seen. This can lead to puncture wounds, shear wounds and much more.
  • Electrical Hazards – After a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster you need to be careful to avoid electrical hazards both in your home and elsewhere. Avoid contact with overhead power lines during cleanup and other activities, do not drive through water if downed power lines are in the water. It is easy to be electrocuted during a flood as one may not notice downed power lines while driving. Also, electrical equipment in the home that are in water can lead to electrocution. Do not try to unplug them.
  • Destruction of homes and other infrastructure- flooding can easily weaken buildings causing them to collapse. It causes greater loss than just a building. People lose everything including household appliances and a proper resting place. Flooding removes the comfort of calling a place your home.

engineering(engineering block at the UWI)

  • Destruction of agricultural land and crops: if our agricultural land is destroyed, how and where will our crops and vegetation be grown? Furthermore how will we survive and sustain a proper standard of living? Less crops will mean higher prices on the market as their will be a great demand. In turn we the citizens will have to dig deeper into our pockets to purchase these goods causing a negative effect on the entire region.

The bottom line of flooding is that it also adds another risk to our lists. Mental stress! Yes that’s right!

  • Mental stress and fatigue is another life threatening risk as it may cause financial instability, cost us great loss and cause all round tension before, during and after since much preparation, clean up and caution is needed to keep us on our toes to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
  • The picture below illustrates flooding at UWI, which could delay the learning process of students as it will be difficult for them to attend classes. As a result of this, many will become tensed and frustrated as they will be concern about their education.

eng crossing

Finally, Chemical hazards are infamous during flooding. They can consists of chemicals from sewage plants to household cleaners that get mixed up in the flood waters. One should be aware of potential chemical hazards during floods. Flood waters may have moved hazardous chemical containers of solvents or other industrial chemicals from their normal storage places. When these chemicals interact with the human body, they can cause:

  • Choking – causes severe irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract (lining of the nose and throat, lungs)
  • Incapacitation — by drugs that make people unable to think clearly or that cause an altered state of consciousness (possibly unconsciousness)
  • Metallic poisoning
  • Nerve ailments — highly poisonous chemicals that work by preventing the nervous system from working properly
  • Vomiting —chemicals that can cause nausea and vomiting
  • Uncontrollable bleeding

keep-calm-because-we-can-fix-that

So how can we deal with the problem of flooding in the country and at The University of the West Indies? We not only came up with our own solutions to the problem, but we included the “Inter American Development Bank: Trinidad and Tobago Flood Alleviation and Drainage Program (2013)”. This plan proposes solutions and ways to initiate them, with the help of pieces of legislation that include the OSH Act, Public Health Ordinance, The Water and Sewage Authority Act, The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, among others.

Solutions to flooding can be divided into separate categories; soft and hard engineering strategies. Soft engineering strategies can be described as flood warning and preparation while hard engineering strategies are building dams & reservoirs and channel straightening. The soft engineering strategies deal with protection while hard engineering strategies accesses the situation and offers the best alternative solution.

Flood preparations can range from personal protection, property protection, knowing evacuation routes to health and sanitation. Personal preparation and health and sanitation are similar:

  • Listen to news updates and other local information sources such as the ODPM and the Red Cross to get information and advice as soon as possible.
  • Drinking and using pipe-borne water is a serious health hazard after recent flooding, it is strongly suggested that bottled water be used or boiling water to remove any harmful bacteria.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting anything that got wet is always advisable, in order to remove any sewage, bacteria or harmful chemicals which might accompany the floodwaters.
  • The goal of property protection is to reduce the risk of damage before flooding occurs. This will require elevating critical utilities such as; electrical panel, sockets, wiring, and appliances. Waterproofing flat areas with sandbags and man-made banks can also help.
  • Knowing the quickest way out and alternative routes is also important especially in the capital city Port-of-Spain. If you are to get out of the capital city Port-of-Spain before sunset and you have to use public transportation on a rainy day it is always recommended that you move as quickly as possible.

The use of dams, reservoirs, channel straightening, costal defence and afforestation can be used to prevent flooding.

  • Dams and reservoirs are designed to store water and control the discharge of rivers. Therefore, the government should consider designing more of these dams in flood prone areas. In the dry season these dams should be maintained and checked.
  • In addition, cleaning and widening river banks to ensure smooth flow of water in the rainy season. River defences such as channel straightening, levees, diversion spillways should be considered to equip and aid rivers which burst its bank an annual bases.
  • Meanders are removed by building artificial cut-through. This makes the water flow faster which reduces flooding because water drains downstream more quickly and does not build up to the point where the channel cannot contain anymore.
  • Diversion spillways should also be considered which equip rivers with gates which can open to alternative sources to release water if and when necessary. The Flood Alleviation and Drainage Plan suggested that in order to aid the flooding in the Frederick Street- Independence Square area, 3.0km of drainage conduits should be installed and fitted with flaps gates that prevent water from the river flowing back out into the streets.
  • Around the Queens Park Savannah was recommend drainage, accompanied with a detention basin that at the south corner to relieve flood waters and trash collectors in the Gulf of Paria where the basin will empty to prevent any further blockage.

Bringing the problem of flooding a bit closer to home, The University of the West Indies is no stranger to being completely submerged under water.

12166644_912312262194903_1837456985_n                         12167671_912312435528219_298615162_n

(Vehicles submerged at UWI car park)                                                                   (Flooding in front the Alma Jordan Library)

Other than the amount of rainfall the most popular reason for flooding in and around campus is improper drainage and pollution.

  • We recommend that the relevant authorities find alternatives or modify the drainage system. The second ranked perceived reason for the floods at the University of the West Indies is improper maintenance. The drainage pipes and waterways should be checked and cleaned at least every three months. There should also be a head of maintenance department monitoring and accessing maintenance personnel work. Tackling the major causes will certainly put an end to the problem if not at least alleviate it to some extent. With that being said, the time taken for the flood waters to subside will be shorter.

The most popular responses from students being affected by flooding is being stranded in campus unable to leave and not being able to enter.

  • In order to rectify this problem students can address their concern to shuttle service authorities, to work through prolonged periods of flood. An increase in the amount of shuttle buses should be used when there is flooding.
  • The university can also consider building a ramp from block six(6) engineering to an area close to the south gate entrance. Since this is the most popular spot in which flooding occurs and students cannot leave or get into campus.
  • The second most popular response from students being affected by the floods is being unable to attend classes. The university should have a strict policy where classes are cancelled during flooding. It should be considered since a few students complained of health concerns such as skin irritation.
  • When there is flooding the maintenance department should be given the responsibility to sanitize the compound with whatever chemicals necessary since the floods attract rodents. Just a few poison boxes around campus does not deal with the influx of rats, cockroaches and mosquitoes that are seen after flood waters have subsided.
  • Students are of the view that the problem can be solved by reconstructing the drainage system, regular maintenance and planting of more trees in areas such as LRC Green and on the lawn of JFK
  • The University should request that the cooperation officials maintain surroundings areas such as underground drains on at least on a monthly base. Heavy fines should be imposed and enforced since many businesses in the St Augustine area practice dumping into water-ways.

Eliminating the threat in this situation should be the first strategy to preventing floods and the hazards associated with it. This in essence means that drainage systems should be cleaned and other causes dealt with respectively. However, if elimination is unlikely, then we should skip straight to engineering to ensure that the systems recommended above will be put in place to curb the flooding concern, e.g. creating detention basins, trash collectors and building alternative routes to classrooms in the case of the university.

Since we have noted that the majority of flooding is caused by human activities, we recommend that the government put in place strict laws and policies about trash disposal, quarrying and deforestation. We recognize  that without quarrying and deforestation, urbanization is curbed, however we advise that there be a limit to the amount of quarries that are run and also a height restriction on how elevated construction can occur on hills and mountains. Establishment of environmental laws is the way to prevent further flooding.

In conclusion, flooding does not only affect our lives today, it will also slow down sustainable growth for the future. It destroys our lands, homes and livelihoods, spreads poisons and toxins that can seep into our earth and affect our future generations. If we do not act now, we may not have a bright or dry future ahead.

REFERENCES

  • Risks associated with flooding

http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/flood/standing.html

https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/defining_flood_risks.jsp

https://www.google.tt/search?q=blog+iMAGE+OF+FLOODING&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=643&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI9o_KicnOyAIVQ_VjCh3WtAvg#tbm=isch&q=CARTOONISED+iMAGE+OF+FLOODING&imgrc=WUPhdQmGEiWilM%3A

  • Causes of flooding in Trinidad

http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Poor_drainage__not_rain__blamed_for_floods-145709225.html

  • Pictures of The University of the West Indies

http://www.tv6tnt.com/u-report/223331081.html

  • Types of Flooding

http://www.odpm.gov.tt/node/16

  • Solutions to Flooding

http://www.slideshare.net/HNurton/methods-of-flood-control?next_slideshow=1

http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409002852888-3c5d1f64f12df02aa801901cc7c311ca/how_to_prepare_flood_033014_508.pdf

  • The Flood Alleviation and Drainage Program PDF

Flood-Alleviation-Drainage-Program

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Titanic BioHazard

Titanic
titanic 112

Arguably one of the most iconic shipwrecks in history, this 1912 disaster was turned into a romantic thriller told from the perspective of a Rose Calvert, (a fictional character who was a passenger aboard the titanic during its faithful voyage). Ask anyone, anyone who has viewed the movie in fact, and each person would give you their own personal opinion of the film, some ideas mainstream, while others would be a little more unorthodox. One idea of which falls into the latter category is the idea that the ship Titanic, (neglecting the rest of elements in the film), was riddled with health and safety violations when examined in accordance with the (OSH) Act (2004) as amended (2006). The following discussion seeks to support this claim as these scenes were viewed to be in direct violation with the Act.

Side note, – Given the three hour length of the movie, we shall be focusing on violations that took place on board the ship itself. Neglecting other supporting, surrounding scenes.

Side note, – Hyperlinks of relevant scenes are embedded in blue underlined texts throughout this discussion.

The Engine & Boiler Rooms

At around 28:42 minutes into the film, viewers get their first look at what can be considered the Titanic’s beating heart,
its engine room.
2 titanic

On the surface this immaculate spectacle of moving parts would wow many, but when viewed from a safety standpoint, it’s easy, and scary to see exactly what hazardous conditions some workers on board the ship were subjected to work under.

Narrow walkways high above the ground, mammoth sized moving machinery, coupled with no safety  equipment for employees all added to the peril within this engine room, but shockingly enough, none of this could compare to the
3 titanicthat workers of the boiler room faced. For this brief scene, workers can be viewed toiling in a poorly ventilated, overcrowded, extremely heated work space, where any one of the previously mentioned hazardous characteristics can prove to reduce the health, or be fatal to workers exposed to such an area for a prolonged period of time.

The Captain

  At 50:58 the captain was being urged to start the remaining of the boilers, he then makes a comment saying that the engine have not been “run-in” yet. Taking into consideration, greed and fame, being the reason for trying to push the ships limits as to achieve the journey in lesser time. This is in reference to the first starting of the engine in which it is started up for the first time and operated and tested under load conditions. This process if done unsuccessfully will result in damage to the engine and would have resulted in the exposure of the crew and to the passengers to harm.

4 titanic

The first ice warning occurred at 1:12:51, at this point the captain is given a warning of the presence of ice and uses this opportunity to announce that the last boiler was lit, in doing this he not only ignored the fact that there was the presence of ice but he also decided to increase his velocity. In doing so, his actions were reckless and endangered the ship, crew and the passengers to which he held a duty of care. In the OSH act, in the section regarding the “Duties of Persons employed”, “it states that, “no person should not willfully or recklessly endanger their lives or that of others.” The captain at this point is clearly in breach of this statement as he chooses to ignore the warning, and increase his speed.

The Sinking Of the Titanic

From a safety and health perspective, this is where the nightmare lies. As the ship sinks, numerous perilous conditions presents itself;

1st)The lack in the availability of safety and disaster equipment,- 

5 titanic

The titanic was only supplied with enough life boats, (20 in fact), to save about one-third of the crew and passengers on board. However there were enough life jackets for everyone, but most passengers and crew failed to wear them. It should be noted though that at that time, there were no safety regulations in place for a ship of that size. Nevertheless there was a requirement in place called the 1894 Merchant Shipping Act, which “required that the number of lifeboats be in direct proportion with the ships gross tonnage.”

In fact, at 1:13:23 in, Rose mentions to Mr. Andrews that the number of lifeboats are less than that necessary for the full number of crew and passengers, at this point he goes on to say that he had designed for more lifeboats, but was overruled, and that these were the total amount he was allowed, due to the appearance of the ship being cluttered if more was added. Historically that statement was proven to be true as the reason behind the less than adequate number of lifeboats.

2nd) Ship deck overcrowded,-In accordance with the Act, “an establishment shall not be so overcrowded as to cause risk of injury to the health of the persons employed therein.” It is without a doubt that this requirement is violated during this scene, as hundreds of people occupied the deck of the ship at this single given time. Chances of being injured or even trampled to death increased tenfold, as patrons rush about with little regard for each other’s safety.

3rd) Electrical, water and structural hazards,

The first scene that showed critical danger with regard to water and electrical current occurred at 1:59:31, where Rose was making an attempt to save handcuffed Jack. At this point, you could see Rose nearly completely submerged in salt water, maneuvering with axe in hand, while electrical sparks are scene in the background. 6 titanic
The entire ship had still electrical power flowing through it, although it was being submerged. This is a clear danger to anyone still on board at the time, as one is not to be in contact with water when exposure to electricity is prevalent.  As from one 1 milliamp, one would perceive a tingling sensation, far less for being submerged in water where there are electrical outlets.

References

Book:

  1. David L. Goetsch. (2015). The Basics of Occupational Safety. Prentice Hall.

Online Resources:

  1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120338/
  2. http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=5151
  3. http://www.rina.org.uk/lifeboat-embarkation.html
  4. http://wallpaperres.com/2015/03/06/titanic-large-ship-01/
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Z8la_6cuI
  6. http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/magazine/2013/july/electric-shock-drowning-explained.asp
  7. http://www.historyofthetitanic.org/titanic-lifeboats.html


2 Comments

FINAL DESTINATION 5 REVIEW: OSH EDITION.

FINAL DESTINATION 5 REVIEW: OSH EDITION. 

fd5

Released in 2011, Final Destination 5 is a gruesome horror motion picture that follows the experiences of a group of coworkers who were saved from a horrific accident due to one man’s forewarning. With a runtime of one hour and thirty- two minutes, the show is no stranger to gore, as death is hell bent on seeking its revenge on this group of individuals who have escaped its malevolence once before. This movie trails the journey of these fragile souls as they attempt to escape the clutches of death. As students of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) it has come to our notice that many scenes within the movie have safety and health violations. Therefore, we have decided to focus on the death scenes of these characters and bring to light these infractions and the preventative measures that could have been taken to avoid such tragic losses.

The movie begins with a group of coworkers, driving over a bridge, on their way to a company retreat. Caution signs and men wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can be seen as construction is under way on the bridge. Suddenly the road cracks and jolts, and the bridge collapses beneath them causing mass loss of lives. However, corrective measures could have been put in place to avoid such a disaster. Careful examination of such large scale construction should have been done to gauge the level of risk on the job, then measures such as closing the path or working during the night when the roads are less busy should have been taken to lessen the risks.

In addition, at the gymnastics centre, it could be seen that there were faulty cooling equipment as a screw from the ceiling fan fell unto the balancing beam, water droplets from the air conditioning unit were falling unto exposed electrical wires, and a fan was placed on the mat where participants were practicing. The fallen screw damaged one of the individuals causing her to knock the powder substance into the fan creating an explosion of dust in the air and eventually leading to the fall and death of the character. On the other hand, had preventative actions been made, such as regular maintenance of heating and cooling equipment and proper placement of materials, the damage done could have been avoided.

Moreover, another death occurred at the spa. The character in question, visited the physical therapist where she performed acupuncture (the art of inserting needles into the body for therapeutic purposes). It is firstly noted that the bed was unstable and the needles were not properly sterilized, as it was simply being wiped unto an alcohol soaked cloth. Secondly, we notice the improper placement of apparatus such as the cellular phone next to the candles, as well as the ash from the incense near the alcohol filled cloth. hhhhhhhIn the scene, the ash of the incense falls unto the alcohol soaked cloth creating a fire, the bed then gives way and the character falls to the floor, in a panic the bottle of alcohol is knocked over and the cellular phone pushed the lit candle unto the substance setting the room a blaze, the character then immediately dies on impact as he smashes into the wall shelves and a statue falls unto him. His life could have been saved had it not been for the improper placement of hazardous materials.

Penultimately, a woman falls to her death after undergoing a simple eye procedure. As observed in the movie, the woman is placed under the machinery and is strapped into her seat to avoid movement. The camera then pans over to a cup of water on the edge of the water dispenser. Due to the vibrations of the water dispenser, the cup falls off the edge unto the electrical socket where the machinery is plugged into. The machinery twitches and begins to overheat which leads to the damaging of the woman’s eye. As she wrestles the machinery and frees herself from the clutches of her chair, she misbalances and falls to her demise. Had preventative measures happened and removed the incorrectly placed cup of water, another life could have been spared.

iiiiiiUltimately, a man working at an industrial factory is seen standing at his job site. A loose tool is then detected near the spinning gear of a large machine. The consistent vibration of the machine shakes the tool until it falls into the gear and is pitched across the room striking the man on his head. Certain precautions such as appropriate placement of tools, and the wearing of PPE could have reduced the damage produced.

Conclusively, it can be said that OSH plays a major role in fighting death. If only the cast of Final Destination 5 had known.

jjjj


2 Comments

HANGING OUT IN SAC!!!

HANGING OUT IN SAC!!!

Our blog is based on a very dangerous health hazard right on campus, of which we are sure is oblivious to most of the students, staff and other individuals that occupy and traverse this space on campus. This risk was brought to the attention of the group by group leader Melissa.

One day on campus, on her lunch hour, she went to purchase lunch as she usually does, she decided to take a short cut through SAC. Student Activity Center. This area is mostly used by the students of the University. They use it for numerous activities, such as playing games, studying, to have lunch, relaxation, etc.

Whilst trekking through the narrow corridor which is used by many students, she noticed that the floor was badly stained and messy. Thinking that the cleaners probably didn’t do their jobs well she continued on her merry way. This had her quite baffled for some days every time she passed there to get lunch. The mess always seemed to be there, as if no attempt at cleaning is ever made.

One Day she decided to look up and to her shock and dismay, there was hanging from the ceiling, a small colony of bats. Therefore all this time the matter built up on the floor was actually bat feces. It was only when she highlighted what she had discovered did the other group members realize that they too had seen those signs, however they were unaware as to what it truly was. This is an area where students frequent on a daily basis.

                                                                Heath Effects of Bats Droppings

IMG-20151007-WA0009Bat droppings also known as guano, can have adverse effects on the heath of who ever come into contact with it. This highly contaminating matter can cause a host of diseases. One such disease is Histoplasmosis, this disease primarily affects the respiratory system, in particular the lungs. Left untreated this ailment can be fatal. Histoplasmosis is contracted when a fungus that lives within the fecal matter contaminates the soil and other areas where the feces falls, whenever it is disturbed, spores are released into the air which are inadvertently inhaled.

 

 

Other Diseases Caused By Bats

IMG-20151007-WA0007Another very real possibility of being near to bats, is the contracting of the deadly rabies disease. This can occur when a person is bitten by a contaminated animal or simply by coming into contact with the saliva of one of these flying rodents. The disease can also be transmitted by other animals such as dogs, cats, foxes, raccoons etc. In their natural habitats such as caves and abandoned mines, human contact is rare and would only occur when people visit or work in these caves. When these animals leave their natural homes and inhabit developed spaces used by humans, is when problems arise. Issues such as this should be of great concern to OSH practitioners, administrations and general public alike.

 

 

Treatment for Rabies

When a person is exposed to rabies, timely administration of a vaccine known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent infection. Once a person becomes infected and symptoms begin to occur, rabies is almost always fatal. Each year in the United States, up to 30,000 persons receive PEP due to potential exposure to a rabid animal, including bats.

The link below is a short film which highlights the risks associated with bats and the excrement they leave behind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuvNM1jakJc

 


2 Comments

Safety Md

house2

cooltext141540624994230

images (1)emba-hsem-ppt-hazard-idevsg2010400689169-3-728

House is a TV series that is mainly about dealing with medical issues that patients may encounter, thus the episode “Ignorance is Bliss” was chosen. This blog wishes to shed light on the types of hazards, who were affected, who were responsible and finally reduction methods for these hazards.

While viewing Season 6 episode 8 of House MD “Ignorance is Bliss”. Many risks and hazards were detected. These included but were not limited to:
• Chemical
• Psychological
• Biological
• Physical
• Violence

Chemical hazards include skin irritants, carcinogens or respiratory sensitizers that have an adverse effect on a workers’ health. Chemical hazards occurs as a result of direct contact due to the exposure to chemical substances, usually through inhalation, skin contact or ingestion.

The main focus of the episode ‘Ignorance is Bliss,’ was a genus patient(Jimmy) was suspected of having Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura(TTP) a rare blood disorder which forms blood clot and limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs including the brain. In this case the chemical hazards, was an ingestion combination of cough syrup and alcohol. As mentioned previously the patient(Jimmy) was a genius so as Dr. House called it, he made himself a ‘dumb drug’ fully aware of the short term effects but was unaware of the long term effects because he claimed it made him feel less miserable. The long-term effect of the ‘dumb drug’ eventually led to poor circulation and several blood clots which limited muscle movements.

Biological hazards are basically any organic substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms. Biological hazards include toxic waste, body fluids, microorganisms, viruses, etc. In the movie countless biological hazards were noted. Risks such as absence of protective clothing while dealing with patients to eating in laboratories put not only the staff, but their patients and the by extent the public in danger. Section 7 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA Act) states that ” It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure….that persons not in his employment….are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.”

At 06:54 a female doctor is seen performing tests within a lab not only lacking protective eye and mouth wear, but her hair is loose and allowed to fall freely about her shoulders. This can in turn pollute blood samples, etc from the patient or cause her to be infected by body fluids. In order to prevent this biological risk, the female doctor should have had her hair tied in a bun or covered by some sort of hair net/hair cap to reduce any type of contamination/infection. (Picture below)

Untitled

Another risk that could be easily avoided is another biological one. At 16:54 a male doctor is in the middle of performing a biopsy on the patient’s liver. However to the back of the room, we see the patient’s wife standing in the sphere of the procedure, without any protective gear on. The patient’s body could easily be infected if his wife was unknowingly sick, or if she touched any of the instruments used to inject his liver beforehand. Easily, I believe that the wife should not have been present while this procedure was being done so as to reduce the risk of any outside/unclean pathogens, etc entering and contaminating the needle, or the open wound in which the needle is being inserted. If she requested and was allowed to be present, she should have been outfitted with the proper protective clothing so as to ensure her safety and the safety of her husband. (Picture Below) As stated in Section 10 (a) ” Employee….to take reasonable care for the safety and health of himself and of other persons who may be affected…”

Untisdftled

An additional irregularity with the protocol carried out by one of the doctors was once again the failure to use proper protective attire for his hands while carrying out a medical exam on a patient. This measure can be corrected by always ensuring doctors wear latex gloves so as to avoid exposing their bare hands and coming in contact with bacteria as well as spreading germs to at risk patients (picture below). Section 10 (d) states ” to use correctly the personal protection clothing or devices provided”

sdkjbv

Furthermore, Psychological hazards are basically anything/emotion that can negatively affect your mental ability and in turn reduce focus on the job. E.g. Being Stressed. Many stressors were observed in the episode ranging from a strained marital relationship to tension between co workers and superiors, leading to an uncomfortable work situation in which teamwork is strained.

The first of many psychological hazards presented was the demeaning way in which Dr. House speaks to and interacts with not only his staff and co workers, but also his patients. In previous episodes House is depicted as an addict to the pain killer Vicodin, with a disregard for the finer points of medical ethics/protocol and his inability to cooperate with subordinates and administrators alike. House’s superiors are and were aware of these characteristics, however after many failed attempts, therapy seemed useless. At this point, I believe that Dr. House should have been asked to leave the job in order to ensure the psychological wellbeing of other staff members and patients.

Also, due to marital concerns, Dr. Robert Chase experienced high levels of tension that impeded focus on his job and caused him to be detached from his team. This can result in major setbacks and threat to patients since the cast usually works as a team in order to figure out possible cures and treatments. Therapy or counseling sessions should have been offered to Dr. Chase to ensure his stable mindset on the job to avoid accidents.

Physical Hazards are those that can cause harm with or without contact. Factors within the environment such as noise, ergonomics, heat, cold, etc are all examples of physical hazards. Being based on the medical field and filmed in a hospital, the episode is bombarded by countless physical hazards. Ergonomics playing a major role. As we all can imagine, doctors are up and on their feet days at a time in some cases. However this is no excuse to ignore their own health and safety.

When it comes to Physical risks, ergonomics come into play in this episode. At 18:48 two doctors were shown eating sandwiches in a lab filled with equipment and toxic chemicals. To alleviate this problem they should wash their hands clean with soap and eat at a cafe or a designated lunch room that is clean and safe from diseases (picture below). Another example of an ergonomic hazard was the patient’s wife in the exam room, were she questioned the doctors’ duties. The doctors were taking a bit long to discharge the patient because they wanted to run more test to find the best alternative solution, which they eventually did. If the doctor’s had given into her complaint, the patient could have been diagnosed for something else.

Untitsetjyhgled

Finally, it was seen that violent behaviour is present among the doctors. Violent Hazards include any form of physical attacks and threatening conduct. These hazards can be internal (within the company) or external (from an outside source). In this episode, the hazard was internal and between co workers. At 32:38 Dr. House was physically assaulted by a member of his team. This is an example of inappropriate work behaviour and should have been corrected immediately so as to avoid further disorder. To combat this problem counselling services should be provided to assist these doctors in properly dealing with co worker quandaries. (picture below)

Untitlnjvkuhfsed

“A variety of stakeholders (society in general; patients; individual nurses; nursing educators, administrators, and researchers; physicians; governments and legislative bodies; professional associations; and accrediting agencies) are responsible for ensuring that patient care is safely delivered and that no harm occurs to patients.”- Nursingworld.org There are many risks and hazards as doctors ranging from patching up small cuts and bruises to dealing with highly contagious and deadly diseases. Therefore, it is mandatory to implement preventative and corrective measures to reduce the level of risks to ensure that safety and health is maintained among doctors, patients and the public.

REFERENCES

House MD – Google Search (House MD – Google Search)
https://www.google.tt/search?q=house&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMIvYPes6C0yAIVyJANCh1svwtE#tbm=isch&q=house+tv+series&imgrc=dYoPd49ksWVF_M%3A

Hazard Identification – Google Search (hazard identification – Google Search)
https://www.google.tt/search?q=hazard+identification&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMI_IW_3aC0yAIVy9KACh0AYADP#tbm=isch&q=what+is+a+hazard&imgrc=pm-6ThcDCvoA2M%3A

http://www.aylic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/safety-slogan.gif

• Preventing Ergonomic Hazards

http://www.comcare.gov.au/preventing/hazards/ergonomic_hazards

• Link to House Md “Ignorance is Bliss” Episode

http://putlocker.is/watch-house-md-tvshow-season-6-episode-8-online-free-putlocker.html

• OSHA Act Online

http://osha.gov.tt/LegalRequirements/OSHAct2004.aspx
• Nursing World

http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume82003/No3Sept2003/PatientSafety.html


2 Comments

OSH Challenges At The Classic Porsche Plant

CARS – what’s not to love about them, the architecture, versatility, the revving of the engine just makes car lovers everywhere come alive! Though some may abhor to watch a documentary such as “Porsche 356- made by hand,” especially if soothing voices put you to sleep, but there is just something incredible about the very first Porsche that Mr. Ferdinand Porsche himself designed. The documentary shows the tools, precision, manpower and the art the technicians used to scrupulously hand build this special vehicle between the Reuter’s and Porsche neighbouring facilities. However, apart from the insightful knowledge about the rich and remarkable history of the first Porsche in history, we as agents of safety and health identified numerous OSH challenges throughout in the putting together of the Porsche 356.porsche-356_wallpaper_s07 (1)

Pictured is a Porsche 356 Super Speedster

Along with our love for 4 rolling wheels is our love for health and safety. Our main focal point to choosing this documentary is section IV 23(1) of the OSH act that states, all persons entering an area in an industrial establishment 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 instructions 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.

There was substantial evidence showing the breach of this regulation. At the beginning of the documentary, a very brief tour is given of the Porsche factory followed by a scene where we can see that as employees were cutting the steel sheets to form the body panels, they were only wearing a pair of gloves and moving their bodies around a very sharp blade that slices the sheets of steel like butter. After this, two more employees use a metal press to shape the cut sheets of steel into body panels.

The problem is, these employees were at great potential risk for injury. The employee cutting the sheets of steel should have been wearing long sleeve clothing as well so that if in the event his grip slips for some reason, there would have been reduced risk that he will suffer with a tear or cut to his skin but wait, there’s an even greater risk in that exact scene. By moving his hands with such a large piece of metal, he had reduced control over the sheet due to having to spread his hands out far to maintain a grip over the shape of the panel. Should he manage to lose control of the piece being cut, his wrist or arm could have been at risk for being sliced out cleanly! Porsche should have supplied this man performing such an important task with a hand held electric shears or a rotating base to reduce the severity and likelihood of the risk of him losing a limb.

2

Two workers pressing a piece of sheet metal to form the curved deck lid with their hands in the path of the press.

Further, the employees operating the metal press should not have placed their hands beneath the press. By doing so, they were at great exposure for a crush injury whereby if the top of the press managed to drop, it would have crushed their thus flattening it along with the piece of steel sheet.  For the very least, they should have been supplied with tools to maneuver the panels without getting their hands in the way of the press.

After creating the panels, there was a scene where an employee is welding. He was not equipped with protective gloves, a protective body suit, welder’s jacket or coverall. The welder was also seen wearing a shirt with his sleeves rolled to his elbows. Here the welder was greatly exposing himself to burns from the sparks. Props to him for the full face mask too!

3

                               Welder’s shirt sleeves are rolled till his elbow. No welder’s jacket. No gloves.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, two employees were seen with their safety goggles resting on their foreheads above their eyes, leaving their eyes unprotected and at risk of being injured or irritated whilst welding. Additionally, these workers appeared to be welding in the movie without the use of a full face mask.

Workers also experienced ergonomic hazards as they had to physically pick up and transport the frame of the car by hand in order for the floor pan to be completed. In so doing, there was also a fall hazard whereby if a floor pan slipped out from their grip and fell onto their toes, it could have crushed their toes. Transporting the frame by hand classifies as both an ergonomic hazard and a fall hazard. Why? Just think about how heavy one of those welded steel pans weighed in those days. It surely would have put a lot of pressure on those workers’ joints and muscles. For the very least, Reuter’s should have provided flat bed trolleys to move around the floor pans. Not only would it have removed the fall hazard completely but it would have also given the factory an advantage since only one worker would be needed to transport the chassis. It is worth mentioning that steel tipped boots would have been a great deterrent against damage to their toes.

4

                                  Two workers grasping a 356 floor pan in their hands at the welding stations.

When a young person says they’re in the latest fashion and they call it ‘swag’, they are actually just following a very old fashion. Workers in the production line who performed the final bodywork before painting, wore no protective gear. Just like those who say they have ‘swag’ and wear there glasses atop their heads, so too did these employees wearing protective eye wear above the eyes promoting exposure to physical hazards – again (we digress these young people today are not the true inventors of what one calls ‘swag’ or what some see as failure). Due to the impact of using drills, hammers and files continuously during this process, employees were once again exposed to ergonomic hazards which may have led to ergonomic problems later on in their lives as a result of incessant pressure on their wrists, hands and back. Also, these employees were not comfortably resting on the body of the car which could have led to further possible muscular-skeletal disorders. Who knows what these men probably felt like after a day at work?

5

Worker filing body by hand. No protective equipment or comfort.

Here are our solutions:

  • To alleviate this painful problem, 6a rotisserie which hoists the entire car at a suitable position above the ground can be utilized. The employee could then rotate the entire car three hundred and sixty degrees to achieve the same perfect finish in the metal structure but not suffer with as many ergonomic issues, if any at all.
  • Employees should have also been provided with comfortable seating stools which allowed them to continue their work on the car’s body without obstruction.

Typically, when we purchase a car or get into one we never really give any thought to the workers. After completing the assembly of the chassis, rubber seam sealant was applied to all welded seams to prevent premature rusting. No protective gear was observed to have been worn by employees which could have resulted in some form of chemical hazard. While spraying the tar based undercoating to the metal chassis, employees were not wearing any respirators, masks or eye goggles. The undercoating was sprayed out of an air gun and minute particles of tar in the air (overspray) could have entered the employees’ lungs. An acid wash was performed afterwards and the employee doing so exposed himself to very severe chemical burning of the skin as he was not seen wearing any personal protection equipment. All of the workers who did these jobs should have been provided by Porsche and Reuter’s  with full face masks to prevent any risk of chemical poisoning, burning or respiratory illnesses.

Furthermore, workers who applied two coats of lacquer based primer, which would have been lead based in the 1950s, did not wear any respiratory gear. They did wear coveralls which was a good practice (kudos).  Unfortunately, again, once the primer was applied, it was wet sanded by hand. The workers doing this were wearing short sleeved shirts or armless t-shirts and no gloves. This means that lead would have been absorbed into their skin which could have led to long term lead poisoning.

7

             Wet sanding of primer coat by hand. Absolutely no PPE to protect against lead poisoning.

Based on lengthy discussions (this may be a bit exaggerated) among fellow agents we came up with some sound solutions. While we acknowledge that lead based paint has long been phased out of the automotive industry, it would have been very simple for the Porsche factory to supply workers with non-absorbent gloves and coveralls.

You would think that that is all, but wait there is more – more chemical hazards. Prevalent during the engine specification and inspection process, gasoline, also known as, petrol, was used as the liquid to measure the displacement of each cylinder chamber. One employee would pour gasoline into cylinder chambers in order to measure the overall displacement of the engine to determine whether it was in line with production specifications. It seems that the Porsche production facility did not value the safety against chemical hazards as this employee also did not wear any protection.

8

                                                                Gasoline within the cylinder heads

As agents of health and safety we would have kindly recommended the provision of fire retardant gear or the use of another substance such as water or a light velocity oil to eliminate the risk of the employee or surroundings catching on fire.

What is more, they have fanned the flame of disaster in waiting. Along the engine assembly line, workers appeared to be sweating as their skin seemed to be extraordinarily shiny as if coated with sweat. This raises many concerns about ventilation and whether the design of the plant was providing suitable ventilation for employees – not enough fresh air. Once more, a direct violation of the OSH Act since there was inadequate amounts of fresh air in the building. Our simple solution would have been to install more fans, create more ventilation passage ways or simply, as is what actually happened – installing air conditioning as time passed and the technology developed.

 

Also, it may seem that the employees of the company did not really like to be able to hear or maybe they loved the unique sound that only a Porsche engine can make. To a car enthusiast, engines are the music that make their hairs stand on edge.  Once the engines were assembled, they were tested on the bench and given horsepower ratings. No ear protection devices were worn – yes you read right, no ear plugs or ear muffs worn. What was not made obvious in the video is that the Super90 is a very loud 4 cylinder, 4 stroke gasoline engine.  Employees who were exposed to this noise for the long term may have suffered with noise induced hearing loss. According to the National Institute for Safety and Health in North America, the safest noise level that is tolerable with minimal hearing damage to human hearing is a level below eighty five decibels per eight hours of work.

9

                 Employee testing the ever famous Super90 racing engine on the bench.
                Where is his safety gear? Where is the sound isolated testing boot?

There is no problem in life that does not have a solution, so here is ours, as a first line of defense, Porsche could have attempted to eliminate the noise by connecting the engines to a full exhaust system that would imitate the one placed on the cars which would have included a silencer to quiet the engine down significantly. Added to that, ear muffs would have further helped to bring the noise level to an acceptable standard.

There is an end to every problem – so here’s the end of the list of problems in this video. Towards the end of the documentary we observed high shelves stacked with material and tools within a very close proximity to the workers which can fall and cause injury. On the final assembly line, each 356 was moved on dollies which hoisted the car in the air so that workers were able to work underneath the car. These dollies were not structurally sound and were seen shaking in the final moments of assembly during the video.  Lastly during the installation of drive train,  the transmission was manually fitted by an employee hoisting the transmission into place with one leg and his arms while two workers stood beside the car supporting the assembly by gripping the spindles from beneath.  Not only was this practice one of the most ridiculous in the entire video, it was also a lifting hazard since transmissions are made of cast iron and are extremely heavy. There was the opportunity for a lot to go wrong during this phase of assembly.

10

Transmission is being mated and bolted into place by one employee supporting it with his knee and two others                                                at the side of the car holding the spindles. Are they insane?

What is the best solution for this heroic act?

  • The most cost effectively and safe solution to such a problem would be to use a transmission hoist.

Finally we have crossed the finish line, the chequered flag has been waved.  It is worth mentioning that we have assessed and looked at the rich history of the assembly of the Porsche 356. There are many revisions of this popular car with most people saying that it is a car that creates emotions. We were happy to see their spotless attention to fine details whilst saddened by the lack of mitigating risks to health and safety (by the way we are not pregnant for those who think pregnant women have mixed emotions). Lastly, health and safety is not something to take for granted, the damage and loss of human life for bad practices at the workplace can never truly be repaid.

Our Sources:

Discovery of Documentary: http://www.trinimotors.com

Porsche 356 – Made By Hand Documentary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbFu1r_erw0

Picture of 356 Super Speedster: https://porschemania.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/porsche-356_wallpaper_s07.jpg

Picture of Classic Car On Rotisserie: http://www.rhphoto.com/rotisserie/rotisserie_straight2.jpg

Occupational Noise Exposure Level: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/

The OSH Act of Trinidad & Tobago as Amended 2006

All other pictures courtesy the documentary


2 Comments

The First and Last Voyage of the Titanic

1

Title: The first and last voyage

This epic romantic disaster movie has been heralded as the film of the decade it was released in, December 19th, 1997. It has been recorded as the highest-grossing film world-wide of all time, hitting the billion-dollar mark. A fictionalized love story written by James Cameron, intertwined with tragic human loss, sought to convey the emotional message of the historical disaster that occurred on April 14th, 1912. The Titanic, aka the “Ship of Dreams”, is a definite tear-jerker movie that if you have not seen by now, please stock up on the tissues or prepare to taste those salty tears on your lips.  The story sets the stage where two complete strangers from different classes of society are drawn to each other in the midst of an impending tragedy that explores the notion of unconditional love (not a cliché story line back then).  A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, Rose De Witt Bukater, portrayed by the talented Kate Winslet, falls in love with a poor artist, Jack Dawson, (Leonardo DiCaprio), aboard the luxurious yet ill-fated  Titanic ship. The flashback told by a now 100 year old Rose, 84 years later recounts the romantic story to her granddaughter and others about the incident that happened on the “unsinkable” ship.

The aim of this blog post is to analyze the possible occupational safety and health challenges that may have occurred leading up to the 20th century Titanic’s watery grave and to recommend corrective and preventative action. After viewing the movie for the umpteenth time and it still gives you that burn in the throat while the waterworks flow,  the questions arise: could have, should have and would have this disaster been avoided with  modern day OSH measures?  The top six prevalent challenges we sighted are poor engineering and design materials, operating at dangerous levels of speed, lack of parameter security, insufficient emergency safety equipment and supplies, lack of training in risk management and emergency procedures and exposure to multiple physical hazards.

One of the most catastrophic factors that resulted in the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic was as a result of its poor engineering. The ship was made up of low quality steel and wrought iron rivets and because of its brittle structure and the speed at which it was sailing at the time of impact with the iceberg caused the wrought iron rivets to pop like champagne bottles and the hull to be punctured. According to [Gannon 1995], high quality steel upon impact would either just bend or deform rather than fracture. Further evidence of the low quality steel was when it was subjected to a Charpy Test. This test is used to measure the brittleness of a material. Two different types of steel were tested, a modern day high quality steel and the Titanic steel. When the coupon of the modern day steel was tested, the pendulum swung down and the piece of steel bent into a “V” shape, in contrast, when the coupon of the steel from the Titanic was tested, the pendulum swung and with the impact, it broke to pieces. Therefore, when the ship collided with the iceberg, the hull steel did not just get deformed, but it was fractured allowing for water to seep through.

2

The wrought iron rivets were weak; this is one of the important elements of safety in the construction of ships. The rivets that seal the compartments are supposed to be very strong as this keeps the vessel afloat, unfortunately however, the rivets were too weak and with the impact of the collision, it forced the rivets to burst open convicting the majority of the passengers on board to a very frosty death. These poor quality, faulty rivets led to a scientific review of the evidence issued in Physics World which stated that this meant that this part of the hull that collided with the iceberg was very frail compared to that of the main body of the Titanic.

In addition, if the material used to construct this vessel was of a higher quality, the force of the collision may not have caused the rivet heads to pop off leading sections of the vessel to come apart, they may have stayed together and may not have sunk or it may have stayed afloat for longer than within the three hours in which it sank. The rescue ships could have been able to get to her, saving many more lives and one must wonder; even saving a long life of love between Rose and Jack (lol). The Titanic was structured in a way to stay afloat if even up to four of its sealed compartments were flooded but due to its poor construction by the engineers, the rivets popped quickly and easily so a fifth compartment flooded which then brought her to her doom.

Another key OSH issue that was present in Titanic that accelerates the movie literally and figuratively, was the decision by Captain Edward John Smith to operate the vessel at an unsafe speed in order to dock at an earlier than expected time. This selfish and blinded decision resulted in a series of disastrous events where the ship was unable to slow down and turn before colliding with the iceberg.

It took three steps to carry out any order in the engine room. The chain of command needed to take any action was far too lengthy. After spotting the iceberg, the officer aft would have had to signal the pilot that the ship needs to slow ahead, then the pilot would have to agree the movement can be carried out and signal the engine room, where the engineers would then carry out the order. A shorter chain of command would have given the engineers in the engine room more time in order to carry out the signal, i.e. slowing down, these few precious moments would have helped in avoiding the disaster. Another contributing factor was the fact that the ship was not fully tested and the engines have never operated under such speeds, when the captain ordered Mr. Murdoch the ship’s pilot to carry out the command to engage full speed ahead.

3

The lack of proper security and security enforcement or rather the Master or Arms as referred to in the movie, aboard the ship was another one of the OSH risks present. We can see that security was minimal around the ship, drawing from the scene where Rose attempts to commit suicide, there was only one sign warning of the dangerous propeller blades, and there was no security around to ensure the safety of passengers. There were no visible security patrols on the outskirts of the ship. Also, from the scene with Jack and Fabrizio and also Jack and Rose, where they were at the front of the ship on top of the railing, an area that was restricted to passengers we can see that there was no security around to caution them and have them moved back to a safer area of the ship. To correct this problem more frequent and stricter security patrols and an efficient security system could be implemented to ensure the safety of passengers.

One disturbing fact revealed to Rose during a walk around the ship accompanied by Thomas Andrews, the ship builder, was the insufficiency of emergency safety equipment and supplies aboard the ship.  Based on statistics there were 2223 people onboard the majestic titanic, which included passengers and crew members, and only a mere 20 lifeboats, which was a deficit of 44 boats to safely rescue the persons onboard. Just imagine the confusion and concern Rose would have experienced on the decision to withhold  lifesaving emergency devices such as a lifeboat in order to gain more deck space. It raises issues of whether safety inspections were performed ensuring the ship was well equipped for disaster to save each life despite social standing and class in life. Was it ethical to determine that only the bourgeois class (the better half of people according to Cal, Rose’s fiancé) should be privileged to board the lifeboats while the proletariats are left in despair?  There also seemed to be a lack of lighting equipment to guide the ship in the dark open sea which may have also assisted in spotting the iceberg at an earlier time. Crew members were seen scampering during the disaster handing out life jackets to passengers, but was it sufficient to save them? Corrective measures should have been taken to alleviate the number of innocent lives lost due to the frigid temperatures or drowning. A proper risk assessment (research and planning) should have been done to determine the number of lifeboats required onboard the vessel in direct proportion to the size of the vessel and number of persons aboard the ship.

4

Evident in the movie was the lack of training in risk management and emergency procedures amongst the staff of the R.M.S Titanic. Firstly, Captain Smith should have ignored his ego and Mr. Ismay, the managing director of White Star Line to go faster despite warnings of icebergs sighted received, which could have been avoided with careful training of risk management and prevention. The workers in the boiler room compartments were not trained on any emergency procedures in case of a disaster, they were scampering for their lives to safety before the water tight doors were shut with no regard to the lives of these workers. The crew members also lacked training on how to effectively communicate the emergency to guests aboard the ship as there seemed to be no efficient warning system or alert installed to signal danger. Chaos erupted when trying to load the life boats causing crew members to attempt to lock off access to third class passengers and use pistols to gain control of the crowd.  The crew tried to rescue and secure the safety of the first class passengers rather than the second and third class passengers who were locked below deck and they were firstly affected from the flooded ship. As statistics shows 60 percent of first-class passengers survived while only 25 percent of third-class passengers were rescued. It was “women and children first,” and males traveling first-class second. This was seen as an unethical act due to the fact that first class passengers were boarded first and boats were half filled, some with only twelve passengers that could hold sixty five persons total. In addition to there being an insufficient number of lifeboats, the crew was insufficiently trained regarding their use. Given the great size and the massive publicity surrounding her maiden voyage, more than 2,200 passengers and crew were on board. As a result, risk was unusually high owing to the potential loss of so many lives. The “Titanic Rule” should have been put into effect before the crew left Southampton, England for the U.S. by this equation: Massive size + Excessive speed + Delayed information + Insufficient risk mitigation (too few lifeboats) + Heightened value (2,200 passengers) + Arrogance of Process (“unsinkable”) = Recalibrate your risk assessment before pulling up anchor. As risk managers, we adapt this rule to fit any number of situations. By titling it the Titanic Rule, we assign risk management the urgency it deserves.

The crew members that worked in the engine room experienced significant exposure to many hazards, as we can see there was a lack of proper safety gear and equipment being utilized by these crew members, who shoveled tons (approximately 825 tons) of coal to create the steam needed to power the vessel. Their clothing seemed tattered and barely protective, making them vulnerable to the intense heat that exist in such working conditions. Overheating was probably possible as this area of the ship showed little to no detail on the ventilation system in place for these workers. It is also revealed in the movie, the noise levels in this area was extremely loud and possibly exceeded the maximum decibel level for human beings. Working in such a constricted area with many persons (approximately 176 men) shoveling coal into the burners can result in the occurrence of many accidents, also walking along high rise platforms without any protective equipment can result in the occurrence of many accidents. These accidents could be avoided by simply providing the crew members with proper personal protection equipment such as ropes, harnesses, gloves, coveralls and face masks.

6

One hundred and three years later, this movie perspective on the Titanic allows us to apply modern day OSH measures to the challenges they faced in their century. For the hopeless romantics and OSH enthusiasts, maybe we can accept that the poor engineering and design materials used for the ship represents the weak and unstable relationship design between Cal ( a steel tycoon) and Rose that escalated quickly at dangerous levels and ended so suddenly. Also maybe the lack of parameter security catalyzed the introduction between Rose and Jack and establish, “If you jump, I jump.” In addition to that, we may interpret the crew’s lack of training in risk management and emergency procedures that forced Rose despite ample opportunities to board a lifeboat to ensure she spent every last breathing minute with the love of her life, Jack. Although they were exposed to the hazards of high levels of noise and heat when they ran through the boiler room to the luggage area, they survived and got even steamier themselves! It is still widely debated whether there really was room on the door for both Jack and Rose who failed to get on to a lifeboat due to insufficient lifeboats. It can be agreed however, with a combination of factors such as quality engineering, safe speeds, increased security system, sufficient safety and emergency equipment, proper risk management and emergency procedures and hazard controls, these may have improved the chances of the Titanic docking at its New York destination. It leaves us questioning, what was the greater tragedy?-  the sinking of the unsinkable or the unfinished love story between Rose and Jack, you be the judge!

References:

“Titanic: The Mother of All Disasters and Everyday Risk.” Titanic: The Mother of All Disasters and Everyday Risk. By Kevin McPoyle, CIC, 9 Apr. 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2015. <http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2012/04/09/titanic-the-mother-of-all-disasters-and-everyday-r&gt;.

Beat Box, Khmer. “TITANIC Full Movie 1997 English-Ver (Ly Sopheak) No 1 Had.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 9 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ8la_6cuI&n