OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


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Cutting the Risks at the University of the West Indies Carpentry Workshop: An OSH Assessment

 

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Image 1: University of the West Indies Carpentry Division, St. Augustine, Trinidad.

 INTRODUCTION

Occupational hazards are everywhere; as a result of this officials of health and safety must make it their duty to properly inspect working procedures. Various strategies such as a risk assessments and regular health and safety checks must be conducted to ensure the safety of workers and staff. A risk assessment is essentially an investigation of a particular environment which looks for various forms of hazards, which may affect the health, and safety of all persons involved there, it also identifies sensible measures which can be used to control the risks in the workplace. A hazard is anything that can cause damage or harm. It may include components such as chemicals, electricity, ladder work, mechanical failures, lack of personal protective equipment, and even an inadequate workforce. The following blog content is aimed at enlightening all its viewers of some major hazards which people face in most manufacturing and industrial workplaces today, specifically the University of the West Indies (UWI) Carpentry Shop.


Mechanical Hazards

Machine Chop/Cut Hazard

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Image 2 & Gif 1: Employee operating and measuring machinery and equipment without proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In the image above we see an employee of the UWI Carpentry Shop sawing a sheet of ply without any gloves on his hands and also not using a push stick. His entire hand is at an extreme risk, as contact with the blade will cause irreparable damage to his hand possibly causing it to be severed or detached. Splinters from handling the wood can also pierce his skin causing damage because while he is handling the wood with his bare hands, he is contributing to the sharp wood shavings puncturing and remaining in his hand causing infections such as mid palmar abscess and other biological diseases which can further the damage. According to the Reed Group, Medical Disability Advisor, MDGuidelines, a palmar abscess is an abscess deep within the tissues of the palm of the hand. An abscess is a localized collection of pus secondary to infection, usually bacterial and can occur in any of the compartments formed by the complex array of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, joints, blood vessels, and nerves that make up the hand.

Solution/Recommendation: It is recommended that the employees wear their personal protective equipment while operating at work so as to avoid any injury or damage to themselves.

 

 TEMPERATURE HAZARD

 

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Image 3 & 4: Carpentry Shop Temperature Hazard

Have you ever worked in an unbearable or uncomfortable temperature? Was it humid or too cold?  You may have! Just like these employees of the UWI Carpentry Shop where we found temperature hazards. The temperature on entering the workshop was unbearably hot and when asking the employees how they managed to work in such hot conditions, their reply was that “we came on a good day.” They said that usually there is little to no wind blowing into the shop and the sun is 10 times worse causing conditions to increasingly worsen. We also observed that the ventilation fans located to the top of the building were not functioning and even when they were fixed or repaired, it is still was too high to serve its purpose, so there substitute was to use a high powered standing fan to circulate the air throughout the shop, but this lead to another major problem, as the standing fans pushed the lying dust directly into the employees eyes and created a dusty and congested atmosphere, which added to the risk of both ergonomic and biological hazards as dust contributes to very stressful work conditions and can eventually lead to respiratory illness, but while observing we also felt the dust in our throats and our eyes after being there for only 1 hour, and it was seen that the employees were not wearing dusk masks and safety glasses when we came in but only when we spoke to the supervisor inform him of our purpose, he only then hurriedly and not too discreetly told his employees to gear up. All workplaces in every sector or industry especially manufacturing should have all safety measures in place for its employees, there must be a provision of proper ventilation and breathable work areas to allow employees their comfort and safety. Employees must also wear their personal protective gear at all times especially when working around dust and other dangerous substances. In the case of the UWI Carpentry Shop, the supervisor or manager must allow employees to take sufficient breaks to give the employees a break to remove themselves from the continuous dust and clear their nasal passage way .Introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure such as flexible working patterns, job rotation, and workstation rotation should be encourage and implemented.

 

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Trip Hazards

Fall Hazards: Slip and fall & Trip and fall

Crush and Lifting Hazard

 

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Image 5 & 6: Trip and Fall Hazard from extension cords and residual dust.

These electrical extension cords as seen in the image above were carelessly placed in commonly used walkways. This was extremely dangerous since there were many sharp objects and powerful machinery in the vicinity, and could cause an employee to trip and fall and injury themselves or even having the machinery fall unto them causing even more damages. The saw dust on the ground heightened the risk of slipping and falling because of the lack of grip on the surface if an employee was to fall.

Solution/Recommendation: It would be recommended to put rubber mats around the work site, and have the employees do regular cleaning of their work space so to avoid any injury from tripping or slipping and falling. It is also recommended that the employees safeguard all highly powered machinery away from areas where they can easily fall and damage someone.

 

Crush and Lifting Hazards

 

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Image 7: Standing Lumber posing Crush and Lifting Hazard

As seen in the image above the size of these lumber is very huge. With permission we tried lifting the lumbers and then realised how heavy they were, not to mention dangerous. There is a lifting hazard present since their area is confined and the board due to the size is awkwardly standing against the wall and if an employee presumed to lift one, it would be very difficult as the space is small the move it smoothly to different directions and is very heavy to carry across long distances, thereby causing a lifting hazard. It can also lead to a crush hazard as it may in some situation fall unto an employee while passing by and crush him to the floor causing him to be seriously injured.

Solution/Recommendation: These boards should not have been stored in that upright position since the chance of it falling is very likely. It should be laid down on the ground or isolated table away from commonly used spaces and should only be accessed if needed by more than one employee. When telling the supervision, he agreed with us to move it soon which was a very good measure of safety on his part. Lifting hazards are mainly caused by improper lifting, posture and ergonomics, therefore the employees and supervisors must ensure that their work-process entails a safe system of work whereby proper lifting techniques are used all throughout the workplace. By using the following simple but proper lifting technique tips, the employees will avoid compressing the spinal flow or straining the lower back when lifting. The simple acronym used to memorise the lifting technique is S-S-R. Squat (Foot to Shoulder level) – Stance (keeping good posture) – Rise {slowly rise and lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back)}. Keeping your back straight, hold the load as close to your body as possible, Use your feet, while leading your hips to change direction, taking small steps. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move. Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

 

Electrical Hazards

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Image 8, 9 & 10: Electrical Panel Box immersed with “Cob Web” and barred of by wood (improper safeguarding)

Wall plugs filled with dust

In the images above, you will notice that all the electrical equipment is improperly maintained, that can cause serious damage to all employees who work within the area. There is cob web surrounding the electrical panel box that cause cause static and fires from the dust particles. The panel box itself is not properly safeguarded as it is opened and barred off by wood and the wall plugs are filled with dust that can cause electrocution and again electrical static.

Recommendations:

The employees and supervisors MUST ensure that only appropriately licensed or registered electricians carry out electrical work, providing safe and suitable electrical equipment for example. Providing enough socket outlets as overloading socket outlets by using adapters can cause fires, as well as ensuring power circuits are protected by the appropriate rated fuse or circuit breaker to prevent overloading and erosion of dust. If the circuit keeps overloading and dust keeps increasing, this can create a fire risk due to static and using battery powered tools instead of mains operated where possible.

Always inspect and test all electrical equipment as it will help determine whether it is electrically safe to work around that area. Have regular cleaning of electrical panels and wall plugs with the proper equipment.

 

Fire Hazard

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Image 11 & 12: Inspected Fire Extinguisher in UWI Carpentry Shop

While inspecting and observing the Carpentry Shop we bounced up on some fire extinguisher that were serviced on time and ready to be used. This is a very good example of proper safety measures in case of fire hazards, as the fire extinguisher is fully operational and has been inspected by the necessary persons.

 

 “Who hurts when I get hurt”?

Regardless of the types of hazard, be it Physical, Chemical, Biological, Psychological or Ergonomic Hazards we often think that it’s the person that got hurt, or liable to get hurt, is the only one that matters. But what about the person(s) directly associated with the person at risk? Should you the person at risk consider the welfare of your loved ones if you were to be injured? You may not be working for a hefty salary, or even be able to afford an insurance, or the organisation you work for does not provide health insurance. You often consider your economic circumstances before your health and safety. I say STOP, think about if you can be replaced at home or if your body part can be replaced. And if you were fortunate to survive, what will be your future, and ultimately the future of your family.  He who works safe today lives to work another day.

References:

  1. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2016/10/11 https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/electrical.html
  2. Occupational Heat Exposure, July 2009, https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/
  3. Extreme Hot or Cold Temperature Conditions, 24 October, 2016, https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/hot_cold.html
  4. Managing Workplace Temperature, June 2010, http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/managers.htm
  5. Pressure Equipment, January 2011, http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/managers.htm

6.http://www.uh.edu/~jhansen/ITEC4350/GoetCh9.htm

  1. http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/proper-lifting-technique

8.http://www.aalhysterforklifts.com.au/index.php/about/blog-post/warehouse_safety_principles_6_key_guidelines_to_keep_your_workplace_safe

 

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Image 13: Workers without safety gear when we just arrived.

 


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Accident Free Analyzes the Implementation of OSH Practices in the SLDD Building at UWI, St. Augustine Campus

Hey, students of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine! Have you ever questioned the safety of your university? Have you ever wondered whether you are safe when going to the SLDD for assistance?  Well today is your lucky day! Accident Free is here to take you on a ride which will have bumps, but also smooth patches because we are investigating and highlighting all of the negatives as well as the positives in the SLDD building. Most students are unaware of the hazards in their school until they fall victim to it. Let’s learn about safety and health issues together because occupational safety and health matters.

Hope you enjoy the ride with us 🙂

Here is a brief introduction of The Student Life and Development Department (SLDD):

The building is a fairly new administrative division in the University of the West Indies. This Unit falls under the Office of the Deputy Principal and was started in 2006 as a part of the University’s commitment to providing equal opportunities to all students. The SLDD offers two main services which are: Providing Academic Support to students of the UWI St. Augustine campus at all levels of their academic career, and ensuring equal access (infrastructure/academic) to all students who enter the University system with a disability. Furthermore, 2016 has made it one decade since this department has been operational thus, our group decided to analyse the implementation of occupational safety and health practices both inside and outside the building of this unit.

A risk assessment was conducted where we identified the varying hazards that existed; namely physical, biological, chemical, ergonomic and psychological. Additionally, we investigated if necessary requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of T&T as amended 2006 were being met. These include safety, health, welfare and fire provisions of the Act. 

RISK ASSESSMENT

  • Physical Hazards

Physical hazards are the most common hazards around us and are more than likely present in most, if not all industrial establishments. Examples of this type of hazard include: constant loud noise, vibrations, heat stress and trip and fall.

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Image 1 illustrates physical hazards in the footpath for workers



The Employer has responsibilities to the employee that he must uphold according to the OSH Act. Image 1 depicts the crudely constructed bridge over an open trench that workers must traverse daily. Firstly, this bridge is not fastened to the ground but instead simply placed over the gap. This can shift and cause a serious fall to occur. Secondly, the open trench contains protruding metal rods that can cause serious damage to anyone that falls into them. These should be covered as soon as possible to limit the risk to persons. Finally, the bridge contains no hand rails. This means a person has no way of steadying themselves if they become unbalanced on the bridge.

 

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Image 2 illustrates worker wearing improper head gear and absence of eye wear

The OSH Act, as stipulated in Section 23 (1) gives clear guidelines about the use of proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when on a job site. These guidelines are present in law to prevent persons working on the site and those visiting, from being physically hurt in a myriad of ways. However, these PPEs can only be effective if they are used in their intended purpose. The pictures attached show that the employer has indeed provided his workers with PPE such as fluorescent vests, boots, gloves and eye-glasses but some workers were not using the PPE in an effective manner and thus, exposed themselves to physical hazards. Image 3 below shows that although the worker is wearing his vest, he is not wearing gloves to protect his hands from abrasions and cuts, neither is he wearing his eye wear properly exposing his eyes to damage from dust and flying debris. Image 2 shows a worker accurately using his gloves and vest however he was not wearing the correct headgear and thus was exposing his head to physical harm. Both images show that the workmen aren’t wearing any face masks to protect themselves against dust. Extended exposure to inhaled dust can cause sensitization of the respiratory membranes leading to asthma, allergies or bronchitis, (Johnson, 2016).

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Image 3 depicts the absence of head gear and gloves. The worker is also not wearing protective eye wear

RECOMMENDATIONS

Our investigations show that while OSH is being implemented at the job site there is still room for improvement. Proper implementation of the OSH principles would reduce the risk of job site injuries tremendously. A safety officer should be assigned to the site to ensure full compliance to the requirements of the Act at all times. For instance, ensuring that the workers wear their personal protective equipment where necessary.

  • Biological Hazards

Biological hazards are organic material that potentially have the ability to harm or kill living things such as human beings and other living organisms. Most firms look past this hazard leaving the public, their employees and themselves at risk.

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Image 4 shows a very clean eating area where the employees enjoy their meals

The assessment of the biological hazards within this firm was favourable, meaning the firm went beyond required measures to reduce possible risk. They provided a separate room for employees to warm or prepare their meals and a dining room where employees were able to sit and enjoy their meals.

Individually, these rooms are spacious, clean and well equipped with sanitizing material. Clean counter tops, the provision of hand washing liquid, access to a clean supply of running water are all examples of how the firm limits exposure to organic material that could possibly cause/spread diseases, viruses, infections and possibly even death.

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Image 5 illustrates a sanitizer dispenser 

 

 

This organization teaches its employees the importance of human hygiene. Each bathroom within the department is not only clean, but offers its users the luxury of utilizing sanitizing dispensers, strategically placed on doors of the bathroom, on the wall beside the sink and the utility room entrance reducing the possible risk of individuals being exposed or exposing others to bacteria that can be harmful to them.

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  • Chemicals Hazards

Chemicals hazards are injuries and or illnesses that can be caused by chemicals within an organization. Dish washing liquid, hand soap and all other cleaning solutions may seem to be harmless to the naked eye but when investigated closely, one can see that the misuse of any of these chemicals can lead to major reactions and cause major issues.

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Image 7 illustrates a sink area with dish washing liquids and lack of rubber dish washing gloves

The kitchen the company provided for its employees is clean and well equipped with cleaning solutions. Unfortunately, the firm failed to supply the suitable complementary material for employees to use with the cleaning supplies. The lack of rubber dish washing gloves exposes its users to the chemicals within the cleaning product. Persons can suffer hand burns, skin cancer and even allergic reactions from coming into contact with the material.

 

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Image 8  depicts cleaning supplies in a separate room known as the “Store Room”

 

Fortunately, the firm properly stored most of its strong cleaning chemicals and supplies in a room that was properly labelled. The storing of such hazardous material in a secured room limits human contact with such products and reduces the risk individuals within this firm could possibly have faced if these materials were not properly secured.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

There were little risks with respect to chemical hazards. Therefore, the management and staff of the SLDD should continue to safeguard themselves from this type of hazard by actively utilizing their store room. However, we recommend that they assess the toxicity of each cleaning material they use and ensure appropriate protective gear is provided for employee use such as rubber dish washing gloves.

 

  • Ergonomic Hazards

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Image 9 depicts seating for indoor workers

According to the University of Chicago’s study on Environmental Health & Safety, Ergonomic hazards refer to workplace conditions that pose the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system of the worker. It was seen in the SLDD building that sufficient seating was provided for those who worked inside the building. However, some employees, when asked, complained of back pains due to the type of seating and the amount of time they were required to sit to do work.

Another thing that was noticed was that the University provided these employees in this department with a spacious work area, thus, ‘confined space’ was not something that they had to worry about.

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Image 10 depicts a spacious indoor work area

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Image 11  depicts insufficient seating for construction workers

Although adequate seating was provided for workers inside the building, it can’t be said that the same was provided for the construction workers outside the building. We see in Image 11 that there is limited seating available for the workers and that one of the two seats available, is actually being used as a stand for their water cooler. This perhaps would lead workers into sitting on the ground or wherever they find a spot which may cause strain to their backs, necks and other parts of their bodies.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The University should look into providing for the indoor staff, more ergonomically comfortable seats which would result in less strain to their backs and other body parts especially when they have to work for long hours. Another recommendation could be to provide more chairs for the construction workers which would prevent them from sitting on the ground or on any other inappropriate surface when taking a break or having lunch.

 

  • Psychological Hazards

During the period of construction, the workers of the Student Life and Development Department building were still required to work through all of the noise, the dust and also the inconvenience. Due to this, stress arose amongst the workers as they were very uncomfortable working under these conditions. The noise level was very distracting and it was extremely hard for them to concentrate on their required duties under these conditions. Workplace stress can lead to anxiety, aggression, poor decision making skills, absenteeism, and low productivity. Therefore, as small as it may seem, stress is a very important factor that organizations should avoid within their organizations as it affects it all around.

In addition to the noise level effects from the construction, we conducted brief interviews with members of the staff and they also complained about the workload as they are currently understaffed. Therefore, most days even without the noise level of the construction workers, they experienced some level of stress.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In order to avoid workplace stress happening again due to work done outside of the building, the manager should ensure that all of the employees are to be transferred into another building for the duration of any of the building’s construction. Moreover, giving the construction men their freedom to perform their duties and also the employees of the building would be in a peaceful environment until their building repairs are done.

 

The OSH Act

  • Safety

Safety is the condition of being protected from anything that could cause hazards, threats, and injury to someone. After taking a closer look at the OSH Act, the University of the West Indies was able to meet most of the requirements needed for the safety of its staff.

As it pertains to section IV number 32, Protective “clothing and devices”, the workers in the building met the standards required by the Act for a safe working environment to prevent any hazards. However, the workers outside of the building failed to meet the requirements. Some of the workers worked with no gloves as they continued to dig the drains. The wearing of gloves could aid in the prevention of cuts while lifting rough objects like bricks, and while interacting with objects with sharp protrusions like steel and wood.

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Image 12  portrays a worker wearing no safety gloves while dealing with electrical lines

 

Another safety issue is that these workers worked in close proximity to electrical lines. Some of the workers had on proper gloves but some did not have on appropriate electrical gear to work with electrical wires while digging the drain. This was another important safety issue. Additionally, the employer should provide proper work gears for all his workers and should also ensure that all workers wear it to prevent any accidents from happening.

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Image 13 shows a worker wearing no safety mask or protective eye wear to prevent dust 

 

 

 

In section VI “the Removal of Dust and Fumes”, both the workers inside the building and outside the building were forced to work in the dusty environment. Neither the workers inside nor outside had on proper working gear, such as ventilation/dust masks as they continued to work. The dust mask would have prevented the persons from inhaling the dust on a daily basis. This amount of dust inhaled is unsafe and could affect the workers in both the long term and the short term with diseases such as respiratory diseases.

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Image 14 shows a worker wearing no face mask to prevent the inhalation of dust nor gloves to protect his hands 

In Image 14 above, you could see the dirt dug by the workers on the sight. There were no nets or any other item used to cover the dirt. As a result of this, the dust could easily travel with the wind to the workers as well as staff and students who park in close proximity to the work site on a daily basis. It can also be seen that the worker in Image 14 above, is shoveling the dirt without a face mask or gloves on. This lack of personal protective equipment was the norm on the site.

RECOMMENDATIONS

We recommend that the employer  puts a system in place for example, hiring a safety officer, to ensure that the workers wear their protective gears at all times while they are working.

 

  • Health

The OSH Act states, under Section 32 of the Health Regulations that ‘Respiratory protection of an approved standard shall be provided and maintained, where necessary, for use by all persons in the industrial establishment.’ A respirator is a protective device that covers the nose and mouth or the entire face to guard the wearer against hazardous atmospheres. Employees require respirators to work in environments with insufficient oxygen or where harmful fogs, smokes, mists, fumes, gases, vapours, sprays or in this case, dusts are present.

Respirators protect workers against these health hazards which may cause cancer, lung impairment or even death. The Act requires employers to provide an effective respirator for use by all persons to protect against workplace hazards. Different hazards require different respirators, and employees are responsible for wearing the appropriate respirator.

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Image 15  depicts a worker wearing an improper respirator mask

Image 15 shows a construction worker without a respirator mask. Some were even seen, as in the same image, with their own personalized respirators which entailed covering their nose and mouths with a t-shirt. Having that type of respirator is equivalent to having a defective or damaged respirator which is almost as good as wearing no respirator at all.

The employees inside the building were subjected to a variety of irritating sounds from work being conducted on the outside of the building. These sounds not only contributed to stress and loss of concentration in the workplace, but it can also cause hearing impairment depending on how high the level of sound is. The Act states, under Section 34, that ‘Every owner, occupier or employer shall take adequate steps to prevent hearing impairment caused by noise, and diseases caused by vibration, from occurring to persons in, or in the vicinity of, his industrial establishment…..’ This means that the employers have a duty to protect employees from the risk associated with excessive noise. In this case employees were placed at risk of hearing damage from the noise at work. Imagine working in a building where digging and pounding was going on right outside the door. This is what the employees were exposed to on a day-to-day basis.

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Image 16  depicts a sledgehammer that contributed to noise

Ventilation is another very important aspect when dealing with health and safety in the workplace. Proper ventilation provides clean air drawn from an external source outside of the workplace and circulated throughout the building. These sources include natural or fresh air or by a functioning air conditioning system, in which it dilutes and removes humid air and provides sufficient air movement to give a feeling of freshness without causing a draught.

In addition to proper ventilation, companies also need to ensure that their workplaces are maintained at an appropriate temperature. The weather to date can be very unpredictable. Some days there is heavy rain which leaves the place extremely cold and some days the weather is scorching hot. This can increase the level of carbon dioxide and decrease the level of oxygen which in turn can cause fatigue, headaches, sinus congestion, dizziness, shortness of breath and can affect the employee’s ability to concentrate. A proper working ventilation system is then needed to accommodate this.

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Image 17 portrays a proper ventilation system which is subject to occasional break downs

At first glance the air conditioning system seen in Image 17 looks like a well-functioning system but it was said by the employees inside the building that it was prone to occasional break downs. Thus, employers did adhere to some extent the regulations stipulated in the Act under Section 36 which states ‘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.’

RECOMMENDATIONS

Poor ventilation is a hazard. And like all hazards, it poses a risk to one’s health and safety and thus, must be eliminated or controlled. In cases such as this when the air conditioning system is not functioning properly, especially in extremely hot weather temperatures, installing fans in specific areas of the work room can be a solution to eliminate or minimize the effects of the heat.

 

  • Welfare

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Image 18 shows that there is  adequate,  clean and cool drinking water provided

In terms of the welfare provisions specified in the OSH Act, it was found that The University of the West Indies met some of the regulations identified. The Act states under S. 39 (1) that, “In every factory, effective arrangements shall be made to provide and maintain at suitable points conveniently situated for all persons employed therein, sufficient supply of cool, wholesome drinking water.”  It is clear that provisions were made for both employees working inside the building as well as the construction workers.

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Image 19 shows a very clean washroom area with accompanying soaps and suitable hand dryers

It was found that the University did in fact provide washing facilities in accordance with S.40 of the Act which states, “The occupier of every factory shall provide and maintain separately for men and women employed therein, adequate, clean and easily accessible washing facilities, which are provided with soap and suitable hand drying materials or devices and such other provisions as are prescribed.”

Additionally, to some extent, the University also complied with the provisions stated under S. 45 (1), “In every factory the occupier shall provide and maintain for the persons employed therein, adequate and suitable restrooms or lunchrooms and lunchrooms shall be convenient for the eating of meals and shall be provided with adequate lighting, ventilation and drinking water.”  This is so because only lunchroom and restroom facilities were made available to persons working inside the building and no facilities were made available to the construction workers. Therefore, the construction workers were forced to take lunch in the area where they work. This is extremely unsanitary and dangerous as the area could possible contain biological and chemical hazards.

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Image 20 depicts a worker eating on the site

It is also important to note that there were no First Aid appliances present within this building. This is in fact a direct violation of the Act under S. 43 (1) which states that, “In every factory, there shall be provided and maintained so as to be readily accessible during all working hours, such number of fully equipped first-aid boxes of cupboards as may be prescribed.” This presents a serious problem in the event that an accident occurs. Furthermore, as the building is also a construction site, first aid appliances are a necessity.

The University did, to some extent, adhere to the regulations stated under S.5 (1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (Welfare) Regulations which states, “Where any employed persons have in the course of their employment reasonable opportunities for sitting without detriment to their work, there shall be provided and maintained for their use, suitable facilities for sitting sufficient to enable them to take advantage of those opportunities.”

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There was adequate seating for workers inside the building but not enough for the construction workers outside of the building as seen in the slideshow above. Of the two seats seen in the picture present outside the building, one of them acted as a stand for the workers’ water cooler. This is a clear indication that there was neither adequate nor suitable seating provided for these construction workers.

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of the findings, some obvious recommendations would be to have a first aid box which would aid in the prevention or worsening of any injuries. Additionally, the construction workers should be provided with better seating arrangements and should not be eating in the same place where they work. Perhaps a tent a decent distance away with a table and sufficient seating could be provided for the workmen to have lunch where it’s much cleaner and safer.

 

  • Fire

The industrial establishment in question properly implemented the fire provisions of the OSH Act with respect to means of escape in case of a fire and adequate fire fighting equipment. Even though the fire section which is part V of the Act does not apply to this industrial establishment, it is impressive that they still comply with its provisions which will mitigate all risks encountered as a result of a fire. There are many exits which indicate that the employees in the building are well prepared to escape a fire.

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Image 24 portrays a door in the kitchen area of the building as a means of exit in the case of a fire

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Image 23 portrays the main emergency exit in the building

 

Image 23 above shows that there is an exit in the main area of the building, which is the Emergency Exit and it is wide enough to accommodate all of the employees. Also, the emergency exit is clear of any obstructions which may slow down the escape process. Additionally, there is an exit in the kitchen area of the building, as shown in image 24 above.  It shall also be noted that the doors that are provided for use as fire exits are, while work is in progress left unlocked, and is secured in such a way as to be capable of being readily and quickly opened from the inside. It was reiterated by the Health and Safety Authority of the US that all workplaces must have clearly identified means of escape in the event of fire. These escape routes must be kept clear at all times to ensure that everyone can exit the workplace in the event of a fire or other emergency, (2016 Health & Safety Authority).

There are also ample fire extinguishers in the building. Therefore, members of staff are well equipped to protect themselves in the event of a blaze.

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RECOMMENDATIONS

We therefore recommend that all members of staff be well educated on how to use the fire extinguishers and that fire drills be practised every now and then, since an interview conducted with one member of staff, revealed that they never had a fire drill before. However, they are well protected to guard themselves against any arm from a fire and they should continue implementing and adhering to these safety and health laws.

Conclusively, it was clear that this department made it their legal and moral duty to implement key OSH practices to their unit. However, it was evident that aspects of the office can be improved to minimize risks as low as practically possible. We recommend that these paramount improvements be addressed immediately so that health and safety will no longer be compromised.

Always remember – “Precaution is better than cure”. ~Edward Coke

Sincerely,

Accident Free 🙂

CITATIONS

  • OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 2004 AS AMENDED 2006

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3079/osha3079.html

http://www.takeonestep.org/Pages/yoursafety/safenotsorry/workplacehazards.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/asthma/asthmatic-bronchitis-symptoms-treatment

http://safety.uchicago.edu/tools/faqs/ergonomics.shtml

https://www.google.tt/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=safety+

http://www.workplacesafetyadvice.co.uk/ventilation-in-the-workplace.html

http://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/fire/emergency_escape_and_fire_fighting/

 

 

 

You are all welcome to share your thoughts with us because only with feedback, we’ll know if we have educated you on safety and health issues.

 


Beasts of No Nation

 

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Introduction

Have you ever wondered (or actually experienced) what it’s like to be separated from your family and friends?  How about trying to escape persecution when death seems to be right at the foot of your door? Most people would, perhaps do whatever it takes to survive to see the faces of their loved ones once more.  This is the case for a young boy named Agu, played by Abraham Attah in the 2015 film entitled “Beasts of No Nation”.  For us- health and safety officers in training, this movie exposed a plethora of health and safety violations that, in reality if they occurred, would have resulted in much more serious consequences.  We were able to diagnose several health and safety breaches, along with multiple hazards and risks- both prominent and obscure in nature, and provide remedies on how to alleviate them.

Synopsis of Movie:     

The storyline begins with the outbreak of a civil war in an African country where young  Agu is forced to flee from his village after his family was torn apart by the troops of the National Reformation Council who have invaded their village.  After wandering around in the forest, he is found by a rebel army and is forced to become a child soldier in a bid to survive. The leader who is called Commandant (Idris Elba) orders training for Agu who learns to kill, use drugs and battle.  The Commandant begins to abuse his power and is then demoted by his superior.  After exhausting their resources of food, money and ammunition, the members decide to rebel against the Commandant in an attempt to leave the group.  They are then rescued by the United Nations troops and are taken to an ocean-side camp for rehabilitation.  There, Agu  receives counseling and  is able to socialize with other children and once again live a life he once knew.

Hazards Discovered

The hazards that we pinpointed in the movie fell under the categories of physical, ergonomic, psychological, biological, fire and chemical.  The specific hazards from the movie are identified and discussed, and recommendations for their alleviation are subsequently stated.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards are defined as “factors within the environment that can harm the body without necessarily touching it.  Vibration and noise are examples of physical hazards.  Physical hazards include, but are not limited to electricity, radiation, pressure, noise, heights and vibration among many others” (Comcare 2016.)

With the ongoing war, grenades are randomly released from hovering helicopters over forested areas, as well as over the camp where Agu and his fellow members of the NDF are staying.  These explosives contribute to the destruction of infrastructure such as houses, villages, surrounding trees and animals. In addition, it results in physical injuries, death and often times initiates bush fires. Section 34 of The Occupational Safety and Health Act of Trinidad and Tobago (2004) as Amended (2006) addresses noise and vibration and states that adequate steps should be taken to prevent hearing impairment and disease caused by any such noise and/or vibration from occurring to persons.  It also highlights the duty of the employer to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn where mandatory.  

Another physical hazard seen in the movie is in one of the opening scenes where children are seen playing around the dilapidated area on which their school once stood.  There are sharp, dangerous objects that serve as risks, particularly to the young children who are running through the area and playing carefree without supervision. To safeguard the lives of the villagers, that area should have temporarily been quarantined to prohibit access to it, by way of warning signs, caution tape and/or appropriate fencing and the debris cleared up as soon as possible.  The children ought to be supervised by their parents and guardians to ensure their lives are not at risk and that they do not face any hazards.

Fierce gun battles and explosions result in a large projection of noise which can result in both immediate and cumulative impairment to hearing, particularly to very young children and the elderly.  An article entitled “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague” highlights seven adverse health effects of noise.  These include: hearing impairment, interference with spoken communication, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular disturbances, disturbances in mental health, impaired task performance, and negative social behaviour and annoyance reactions.  All the members of the battalion under the instruction of the Commandant suffered from more than one of these negative effects to their health.  The character, Strika for instance who was already a member of the NDF when Agu joined never says a word in the movie, however, he is able to communicate in other ways.  Perhaps prolonged exposure to loud noises is what led him to have an impaired ability to speak.

During the war the men, who wore very minimal to no sort of personal protective equipment (PPE) were exposed to a lot of inevitable smoke and gunpowder inhalation which put them at great risk for respiratory illness.  According to Section 32 of The OSH Act, respiratory protection of an approved standard should be provided and maintained by use of all persons.  Therefore, the men should have been given appropriate equipment to support respiratory protection.

Within the village itself poverty is evident.  There exists dilapidated infrastructure, which previously sustained severe damage due to the raging warfare.  As such, the occupants and those in the vicinity of these buildings are most susceptible to getting injured.  The fallen houses present slip, trip and fall hazards due to the rubble left behind.

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Figure 1: Aftermath of an explosion in the village.

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Figure 2: Damaged houses and rubble as a result of warfare.

It was observed that the NDF soldiers did not have PPE, whereas the members of the other legions were fully outfitted in helmets, boots, gloves and army suits.  The only equipment and ammunition Agu and his fellow soldiers had was what they had stolen from opposing troops that they killed.  Despite this, there was still insufficient PPE for every member of the NDF to receive full protection.

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Figure 3: Agu and his NDF members without proper PPE.

Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards are those hazards that harm the musculoskeletal system due to repetitive movement, improper handling of equipment, job or tasks or poor body positioning. (Australian Government- Comcare n.d.).

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Figure 4: Poor posture and body positioning to full the container with water

As displayed in Figure 4 above, we see a young boy bending to full water into a container.  In order to obtain water from this particular pipe, he has to pull up the lever and continuously push down to pump the water.  This continuous pumping action can cause strain and sprain to arms, shoulders and back. He then has to lift this container which is obviously too heavy for someone his size to be carrying, resulting in him appearing to be straining.  Instead, to transport the container of water, there is the option of someone greater in size who is capable of handling a heavier load should be carrying it, or two people can take turns carrying it, or perhaps two persons can share the weight and carry it together. 

Figure 5 below shows us that the boy has to bend in an awkward position to sweep because the broom is very short.  Bending at such an angle, for such a long period of time can result in back injuries due to the poor body positioning and posture required to carry out such a task.  To remedy this, it is recommended that a broom with a longer stick (preferably about the same length as the height of the individual) be used to avoid having to bend consistently.

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Figure 5: Poor posture and body positioning required to sweep ground

Moreover, there is a football scene in the movie where the guys are seen kicking and passing the ball to each other and aiming at the goal post.  This can result in injuries such as ankle sprains, strained or torn ligaments, and back and spinal injuries if, for instance, one of them is to fall.  This can lead to permanent disability if the injury sustained is severe.

Under The OSH Act, Section 35 1 states that an industrial establishment shall not be so overcrowded as to cause risk of injury to the health of the persons employed therein.  Violation of this was evident in the movie where we saw the soldiers getting a ride on the tray of vans.  The vehicle was over packed to the extent that the position required to sit while being transported could possibly lead to serious back injuries for the soldiers.  

Psychological Hazards

Psychological hazards are identified as “any hazard that affects the mental well-being or mental health of the worker by overwhelming individual coping mechanisms and impacting the worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner” (Physiotherapy Alberta- n.d.).  There is no denying that there were numerous psychological hazards which could have affected not only those who fought in the civil war, but also those who were forced to flee from their village and depart from their loved ones indefinitely.  

Shown in the Figure 6, is the devastated Agu when both his parents were taken away from him.  His mother had to leave the village to protect herself and her young children from danger, while her husband, older son and Agu had to stay behind to defend their village against the troops.

To add insult to injury, Agu witnesses both his father and older brother being shot dead right in front of him.  He then scampers off with his friend to escape the bullets.  Unfortunately, shortly after his friend is shot dead while running away.  Agu witnesses all these people he was once close to being executed within a couple of minutes.  Devastated indeed, this then led to Agu becoming emotionally distraught and frustrated due to the absence of both his parents from what appears to be his already challenging life.  Only now he must continue to face all the harsh realities that follow without the love and guidance of his loved ones.  According to developmental psychology at Vanderbilt, it is said that “a parent has the influence over the emotions of a child, where a parent’s emotional involvement is imperative to the outcome of the child’s emotional competence and regulation”.   Therefore, due to Agu’s parents being absent from his life, it has led him to become depressed, confused and feeling extremely alone at times.

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Figure 6 : Agu’s emotional reaction when his mother was leaving him behind in the village.

Figure 7 depicts Agu’s great friend “Strika” who, after surviving a long and hard battle eventually dies from sustaining a gunshot that was plunged into  his abdomen by their enemies.  Losing a dear friend can cause you to feel devastated and heartbroken.   Agu has lost a friend whom he has grown close to since he joined the force to battle the armed forces.  

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Figure 7 : The dead body  of “Strika” after being shot by the armed forces

Subsequently, Figure 8 shows where Agu is sent to a children’s home  after being rescued by the United Nations armed forces at the end of his gruesome battle.  During his stay at the home, he has a hard time transitioning from a life of war and tribulation back to a normal life that he once lived in his village.  At nights, he would experience traumatic nightmares. These included seeing images of guns and dead bodies around him.  It even got worse when he could have smelled the decaying body of those who were killed during the time of war, an experience no one would like to have in life.   These abnormal occurrences indicate that Agu may be suffering from a post traumatic stress disorder which is developed in some people who have experienced a shocking event in their life.  It consists of flashbacks of the events over and over, bad dreams and frightening thoughts, all of which was experienced by Agu (Bartok et al 2013).

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Figure 8 : Agu having nightmares at night when asleep

Biological Hazards

Biological hazards include sources of bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans. These biological hazardous sources can result in a number of health effects, from skin irritations to infections and even a far as death.  Figure 9 shows Agu helping his mother to prepare a meal.  As seen, the area where the storage and preparation of the food is being done is poorly kept and is not sanitized. This increases the possibility for rodents and other harmful animals to feed and also contaminate their food, as well as the risk for the family to become unwell.  Some of the major health risks involved with rodent or bacteria contamination include salmonella, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome collapsed.   According to The OSH Act, Part VI Health Section 31 which deals with cleanliness, it relates to this case where it was poorly observed.

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Figure 9: Agu helps his mother prepare a meal for their family.

In continuing with the biological hazards, a scene in the movie shows where the NDF’s food and water supplies are all used up.  They are subsequently forced to consume contaminated water.  Some men become very ill, while others died.   As shown in Figure 10 below, observations with regards to the soldiers wading through contaminated, murky waters also caught our attention.  When contaminated water comes into contact with the skin, bacteria can easily be transferred into the blood stream, which results in becoming unwell or even death.  Some of the major diseases that can be contracted through dirty water are cholera, hepatitis A, malaria and diarrhea.  According to The OSH Act Part VII Welfare, Sections 39, 42 and 43 there is mention for proper drinking water, accommodation for clothes and first aid equipment.  Neither of these were observed in this movie.

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Figure 10 : Soldiers wading through contaminated, murky waters out in the woods.

Fire Hazards

A fire hazard can be defined as conditions that favor fire development or growth.  There are three elements required to start and sustain a fire: oxygen, fuel and heat.  Since oxygen is naturally present in most earth environments, fire hazards usually involve the mishandling of fuel or heat.  Fire, or combustion, is a chemical reaction between oxygen and a combustible fuel.  Combustion is the process by which fire converts fuel and oxygen into energy, usually in the form of heat (Michael Speegle- n.d.).  The products of combustion include light and smoke.  For the reaction to start, a source of ignition, such as a spark or open flame, or a sufficiently-high temperature is needed.  Given a sufficiently-high temperature, almost every substance will burn.  The ignition temperature or combustion point is the temperature at which a given fuel can burst into flames (Mapua Institute of Technology- n.d.).

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Figure 11 : Agu’s mother preparing a meal in the kitchen

In the Figure 11, it shows Agu’s mother preparing a meal in their kitchen.  However, due to the resources available to them, their kitchen poses a major fire hazard.  Without a source of fuel, there is no fire hazard. However, almost everything in our environment can be a fuel.  Fuels occur as solids, liquids, vapors and gases.

 In the image, it is evident that many solid fuels exist.  This is due to improper facilities and equipment.  The wood they use to cook is a source of fuel and, if left unattended, it can lead to their kitchen being engulfed in flames.

The burning down of the huts also poses as a fire hazard.  The direct or near contact with flame, also known as “thermal radiation” is obviously dangerous to humans.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics show that most people die in fires from suffocation or breathing smoke and toxic fumes (The Basics of Occupational Safety; Second Edition David L. Goetsch).

Chemical Hazards

There were a few chemical hazards that were evident throughout the movie.  Chemical hazards are caused by exposure to chemicals and other toxins in the environment that can become harmful and life-threatening to individuals.  The picture in Figure 12 below shows where bombs have exploded in the community where villagers, animals and infrastructure are located.  Explosions like this can be especially dangerous in areas where there are toxic chemical substances.  These substances can then be released into the atmosphere causing death or harm to humans and animals through explosions, or from inhalation or direct contact.

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Figure 12:  The explosions created by bombs in community areas 

Another chemical hazard is discovered at Agu’s home where the household products that are used can be hazardous if they are not properly secured or stored at the right temperature.  In Figure 13, Agu and his mother are preparing a meal.  On the left of the picture a yellow container is seen.  We are unsure if it contains a substance that can induce a chemical hazard, however, if it does contain toxic material it should be stored elsewhere, especially away from the young children who live in the home.  

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Figure 13:  Agu and his mother preparing a meal with the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals surrounding.

Conclusion

This report explores the various types of health and safety violations, hazards, and risks present in this exhilarating film.  Several recommendations on how to diminish these are also mentioned.  “Beasts of No Nation” has heightened our awareness to the treacherous risks and hazards that most people are not privy to.  We pose a challenge to you, readers of this blog to concern yourselves with the hazards and risks that are present in our everyday lives and to find ways to lessen them as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).  Risks and hazards are some of the beasts that endanger the lives of all nations; we must therefore, like the title of the movie, seek to make them the “Beasts of No Nation”. 

Works Cited

Beasts of No Nation. Dir. Cary Joji Fukunaga. Perf. Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Emmanuel         Affadzi.  N.p., 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

“Developmental Psychology at Vanderbilt.”N.p.,n.d.Web.23 Oct.2016

“Ergonomic Hazards – Comcare – Home.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.

Goetsch, David L. The Basics of Occupational Safety. 2nd ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Goines, Lisa, RN, and Louis Hagler, MD. “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague.” NoNoise.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.

Mapúa Institute of Technology. “Fire or Combustion Is a Chemical Reaction between.” Course Hero. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.

“Physical Hazards.” Comcare. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.

“The Psychological Impact of Losing a friend to Suicide.” N.p.,n.d. Web. 23 Oct.2016

Speegle, Michael. “Safety, Health, and Environmental Concepts for the Process Industry 2nd Ed.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.

 

 

 


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OSH Hazards in Godzilla (2014)

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Image 1: Godzilla. Source: http://gph.is/22Z1REz

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Image 2: King of the monsters, Godzilla. Source: http://gph.is/2axllfu

Yikes! Let’s hope he doesn’t have a case of halitosis. I mean, what could be scarier? They say Godzilla is the King of the Monsters who possesses immense physical strength. His signature weapon is its “atomic breath” that he generates from inside of his body. Hmm, that explains the halitosis. This beast of the sea, defender of human society and modern hero that sets out to make things right with the world might seem horrendous and terrifying but who could resist that face!? 👀 Nevermind that, let’s get to the matter at hand!

Joe Brody, a supervisor at the Janjira Nuclear Plant in Japan is discussing an issue with a fellow colleague. The issue? Frequent and consistent patterns of tremors that do not seem to be related to a recent earthquake. On their way to work, Joe advises his wife Sandra to go directly to the site of the reactor at the nuclear plant, a decision he would regret for the rest of his life. Unexpected tremors breach the reactor leaving Sandra and a team of technicians trapped while the plant collapses. Fifteen years later, Ford, Joe’s son, returns home from a tour as a U.S. Navy ordnance disposal officer. After spending some time with his family, he is summoned to Japan after his father had been detained for trespassing in the quarantined zone of the former Janjira plant. Joe is convinced that there is a cover up and persuades his son to accompany him to their old home to retrieve important data. After being detained again, Joe along with his son Ford are carried to the Project Monarch facility where a MUTO escapes in search of nuclear radiation and its mate. The U.S. Navy steps in with hopes of tracking, luring, and destroying the MUTOS but  Dr. Seriwaza is convinced that Godzilla is there to restore a balance in nature and that the creatures should fight among themselves. The admiral, William Stenz, instead uses a large amount of military firepower to kill Godzilla and his rivals. After numerous attempts, countless fatalities, widespread destruction and havoc, Godzilla proved to be a true hero by defeating both MUTOS.

The OSH Titans have been assigned the duty of dissecting Godzilla, highlighting the various OSH hazards, and providing measures to reduce or eliminate these hazards. Some of the hazards identified are chemical, biological, physical, and psychological.

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

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Image 3: Soldiers discovering remains on submarine carrying radioactive material left by MUTO. Source: http://gph.is/MrUmnm

1) Radiation Hazard

How dangerous is radiation? According to Dr. Ananya Mandal, “Exposure to radiation is safe in small amounts and when it is strictly controlled during a medical exam such as an X-ray.” However, long term exposure as well as exposure to a large amount of radiation in a short time can cause damage to biological systems and can lead to electrical and fire hazards. In Godzilla, the two MUTOS feed on nuclear radiation converting it to electromagnetic pulses. Dielectric heating is one effect of exposure to electromagnetic fields that can cause severe burns about the body (Mandal, 2014).

Intense radiation can also cause electric shock in humans and damage to electrical devices. The movie shows the effect that the radiation had on the power grids in Japan and parts of the United States but failed to show the effect it had on humans. In addition, high intensity electromagnetic radiation can also create sparks if an induced voltage is higher than the surrounding medium’s breakdown voltage. Inflammable substances are then at risk of catching fire on contact with a spark, potentially causing an explosion to occur (Mandal, 2014).

Violation: According to the OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006, it is the duty of an employer to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every employee. In addition, the act states that an employer must provide and maintain safe systems of work which includes all materials used for work, all procedures required to execute their work, and the plant or facility. If we were to apply these principles to Godzilla it is clear that these guidelines were not met. 

Recommendations to reduce the radiation hazards:

  1. Destroy the organisms at an early stage of development.
  2. Alert the public and avoid deception. Areas should have been evacuated quicker which could have saved more lives.
  3. Lure the organisms to a deserted area and not to a highly populated region.
  4. “Fire” only when it is certain that there would be little to no loss of life. Reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).

2) Dust hazard

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Image 4: Ford wakes up covered in dust after the attack and fire explosion.
Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

 After the disastrous attack, Ford wakes up and his nostrils, eyes, and mouth passageways are covered in dust. Did you know that the longer you breathe in dust, there is an increased risk to your health? 

Recommendation: The soldiers should have been equipped with masks to prevent the inhalation of harmful dust particles and to protect their eyes and mouths from dust contamination. 

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Biological hazards are organic substances that pose a threat to human health and other living organisms. These threats can come in the form of bacteria, viruses, plants, birds, insects, and humans and can be considered to include biological vectors or transmitters of disease. Worldwide, it is estimated that around 320, 000 workers die each year from communicable diseases caused by work related exposures to biological hazards (Safe Work Australia, 2011). 

The miners were at risk of health complications due to:

1) Lack of protective clothing and equipment:

At the beginning of the movie, the miners that were working for the Universal Western Mining company were not provided with protective clothing and equipment. The workers had no gloves and breathing masks on while they were mining for Uranium Deposits. This is seen as a biological Hazard since the workers could have been infected from micro organisms and bacteria through inhalation, contact with the skin, and any cuts on their body if they received any. 

Lack of protective clothing and equipment is also seen in image 6 as Joe enters the plant.

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Image 5: Workers without protective equipment. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

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Image 6: Joe and his associate without protective gear. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Violation: According to OSH act of Trinidad and Tobago, 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.

Recommendation: Employers must provide suitable protective clothing and equipment to employees of an approved standard as well as proper training and instructions on the use of it. A few examples of protective equipment that the miners should have worn are safety goggles, steel-toed boots, safety helmets, high visibility vests, and earplugs. In addition, Joe and his associate should have been provided with safety gear before entering the plant.

2) Trespassing quarantine zone

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Image 7: Sign indicating quarantine zone. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

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Image 8: Joe and Lieutenant Ford entering the quarantine zone. Source: http://gph.is/1cMJPNL

Ford and Joe Brody decided to return to their old home to retrieve old disks that comprised of important information about the patterns of seismic activity in 1999. The entire area of which their home was once located is now a quarantine zone because of the accident of the reactors in the Janjira nuclear power plant. A quarantine zone is a state of isolation, used to separate and restrict the movement of persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease.

Recommendation: Joe and Lieutenant Ford should not have risked their lives by trespassing into the  quarantine zone as it could have posed a threat to their health. 

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

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Image 9: Joe’s wife and her team heading to level 5 of the Nuclear Reactor. Source: http://www.kickass.re/movies/godzilla-2014-720p-m40674.html

1) Knowing the dangers that seismic activity can cause to Nuclear Reactors, the chief engineer instructed a worker to assemble a team and proceed to level 5 to inspect if anything was wrong. Seismic activity is defined as the types, frequency, and size of earthquakes that happen over a period of time in a certain area. The Health and Safety of the five workers including Joe’s wife that went to level 5 were put at risk since the chief engineer knew that if a Nuclear Reactor erupted, it would cause the loss of life with or without wearing chemical protective suits.

Violation: The OSH Act of Trinidad and Tobago 2004 as amended 2006 states that an Employer must provide information, instructions, training, and supervision to ensure the safety and Health of all employees.

Recommendation: What should the chief engineer have done? The Chief Engineer’s knowledge of the risks involved should not have sent the workers down to level 5 without gaining more information about the seismic activity.

2) Falling Hazards

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Image 10: MUTO causing destruction. Source: http://gph.is/2dPSWRp

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Image 11: Joe and the workers in danger from falling objects. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Upon realizing that the tremors were due to electromagnetic pulses and was the cause of the last major disaster in Japan, the decision to evacuate the area was taken and using electrical forces, the first M.U.T.O (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) was eradicated, or so they thought. Despite their efforts, the male Muto broke free at the nuclear plant escaping from Project Monarch facilities in Japan resulting in a disarray of heavy machinery, metal, and other objects being violently thrown around leading to many injuries and the death of Joe.

Recommendation: The death of Joe as well as other fallen soldiers could have been prevented if authorities made the right decision on behalf of their team to evacuate the entire plant upon learning of the news. More lives could have been saved if the entire area was quarantined and a strategical approach was taken.

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Image 12: Bus driver on the bridge trying to escape. Source: http://gph.is/2dPVwGY

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Image 13: Children confused and frightened in the bus. Source: http://gph.is/2eRd9Jj

Recommendation– All persons and vehicles should have been evacuated and the bridge should have been blocked off before the attack to prevent persons from becoming injured.  

3) Tsunami

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Image 14: Tsunami approaching at full speed. Source: http://gph.is/2ecErbi

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Image 15: People running for their lives as the tsunami approaches the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii. Source: http://gph.is/2eUgFlu

Godzilla entered Honolulu at full speed and fully submerged. His full mass is displaced in the water and driving it forward at an enormous speed (Lee, 2014). This causes mass hysteria on the beaches as people become aware that a tsunami is coming. Hundreds of people run for their lives, but the tsunami approaches and  the streets are quickly flooded. This caused a great loss of lives, destruction to buildings and objects, as well as a large power outage. We were on the edge of our seats for this scene as I am sure many of you would be as well! 

Recommendation: All persons should have been evacuated away from the beach and alerted to move to higher ground or inland and away from water immediately.   

Disaster preparedness, don’t risk it! Tsunami Awareness & Safety guide

4) Endangerment of civilians. 

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Image 16: Young boy attempting to open the door of the train as he is separated from his parents. Source: Author photo taken from Godzilla 2014 for illustration purposes.

Recommendation: The parents should have held the child’s hand which would have prevented the child from entering the train by himself and thereby ensuring his safety.

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Image 17: MUTO’s leg smashes on the ground which causes a major power outage. Source: http://gph.is/2eALde2

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Image 18: Muto destroying train and incurring injury to passengers. Source: http://gph.is/2eUdSZW

While boarding a train from Hawaii, Ford as well as other passengers are trapped in an electrical outage caused by the M.U.T.O. This resulted in the train coming to an abrupt stop on the tracks which caused passengers to be stranded since there were no means of escape. Moments later the train was powered again and moving. During this time, the harmful creature that was seen attacking the city, approached and destroyed the train track. Glass from the windows of the train became shattered and gunfire posed danger to the remaining passengers on the train.

Recommendation:  This havoc could have been prevented if passengers were banned from using any means of electrical transport until the situation was under control. The authorities should have never allowed individuals to board the train knowing the danger involved. Instead of keeping the situation quieted, the public should have been alerted of the possible dangers of utilizing the train track which may have resulted in less injuries and death.

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

Optimism faded, as the realization of what happened to Hawaii begins to settle in and disappointment, resentment, anger and frustration became evident (McMahon 2011). Confronted with the scenes of destruction and the deaths of loved ones, many survivors may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a serious psychological disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing life-threatening events as shown in Godzilla (ChildFund, 2013).

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Image 19: Firefighters and police officers seen assisting injured persons on the scene. Source: http://gph.is/2dMpIYD

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Image 20: A family reuniting after the traumatic event. Source: http://gph.is/2dPQ4Eh

Recommendations: Therapy or counselling would have helped those persons that experienced trauma from the disastrous events and make sense of their experiences and feelings, develop plans to stay safe, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and connect with other resources and support. For further information on psychological hazards, refer to our previous post. Raising awareness to psychological hazards

To conclude it can be observed how serious each hazard (chemical, biological, physical, and psychological) has been to the characters mentioned and the public in the movie. These hazards show how important it is to have safe practices in and around the workplace. Each hazard mentioned can be related to our private and public lives and we should therefore take proactive measures in safeguarding our surroundings for ourselves and others. In addition, one should not fail to encourage health and safety wherever they go and with whomever they meet. We as humans have a duty to treat our work environment with caution and respect for others as our work practices can affect the public in hazardous ways. It is important to understand your country’s OSH act, especially as an employee, so you know your rights and the power you have to stand against unsafe health and safety practices.

We would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Godzilla 2014 Trailer

References

Lee, Franklin. “Why Didn’t Godzilla Create a Huge Tsunami When He Entered San Francisco, Similar to the One That Hit Honolulu?” Quora. July 30, 2014. Accessed October 22, 2016.

https://www.quora.com/Why-didnt-Godzilla-create-a-huge-Tsunami-when-he-entered-San-Francisco-similar-to-the-one-that-hit-Honolulu

Mandal, Ananya, MD. “Radiation Hazards.” News-medical.net. October 30, 2014. Accessed October 19, 2016. http://www.news-medical.net/health/Radiation-Hazards.aspx

McMahon, Kathy. “The Psychology of Disaster.” Peak Oil Blues. March 16, 2011. Accessed October 21, 2016.

http://www.peakoilblues.org/blog/2011/03/16/the-psychology-of-disaster/

“National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance: Exposure to Biological Hazards and the Provision of Controls against Biological Hazards in Australian Workplaces.” Safe Work Australia. March 2011. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/571/NHEWS_BiologicalMaterials.pdf

“Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma.” GoodTherapy. Accessed October 21, 2016.

http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/ptsd

“Seismic Activity Dictionary Definition | Seismic Activity …” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.yourdictionary.com/seismic-activity

“Synopsis for Haeundae.” IMDb. Accessed October 21, 2016. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1153040/synopsis

“The Devastating Effects of Natural Disasters.” ChildFund. Accessed October 18, 2016.

https://www.childfund.org/the-devastating-impact-of-natural-disasters/?no_redirect=true


2 Comments

How dangerous is a ‘wash, cut and style’? Tips for hair stylists & clients.

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Image source: (Edwards, 2015)

 

Many people visit hair salons for a hairstyle, a haircut, hair treatment or a wash, but how many of us take time to observe the various health and safety hazards that are present at salons? Likewise, how many beauticians have considered the hazards that surround their workspaces? Many may even be guilty of inadvertently creating these hazards. Such hazards can range from failure to sterilize equipment which can result in bodily infections, to overloading electrical outlets which can place appliance users at risk for electric shock. In this blog, we examined five common hazards present at most local and international salons, namely chemical, physical, mechanical, ergonomic, electrical (which falls under the category of physical) and biological hazards; provided tips on how workers and employers can deal with these five hazards; and also provided tips on how clients can spot these hazards. The discussion will be centred on the risk management hierarchy of controls which refers to a sequence of various procedures which can be implemented to either eliminate or alleviate a hazard. Don’t worry, there’s no need to second guess your next hair salon appointment – provided that you bear these tips in mind, that is!

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Image source: (Matthew, 2016)

Tips For Hair Salon Workers & Employers

Tip #1: How to deal with harsh chemicals

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Hair dye being applied to a client’s hair. Image source: (“Family Health Team”, 2015)

Hair salons often offer a variety of services, such as bleaching, dying, relaxing, tinting, perming, straightening and smoothing. These services expose the employees to harsh chemicals on a daily basis. Such chemicals can enter the body via inhalation or skin absorption. According to a study published by the Journal of Occupational Medicine, out of 170 workers chosen from 56 hair salons across Palestine, 19% reported suffering from respiratory symptoms at some point during their employment (Nemer et al., 2013). The study attributed the symptoms to their constant exposure to chemicals in salons.  Also, in a French study by Weber, Nevala and Mantouvalou (2011), it was found that, while hairdressers represent about 1 % of the entire workforce in France, 20% of women affected by work-related asthma are hairdressers. The table below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the chemicals that are present in products often used in hair salons and the potential effects they have on the human body.  

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Table of a chemicals found in hair salons and their potential effects on human body.    Source: (Toxic Chemicals in Salon Products, 2016)

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Image source: (Paragon STL, n.d.)

Not only are these chemicals harmful if they enter the body, but they are also extremely flammable. For example, hairspray, one of the most common products in hair salons, contains a highly flammable agent called isopropyl alcohol. Hair mousse contains isobutane, propylene glycol and propane, both of which can cause a fire if either was to come into contact with an open flame.

So what should you do?

To determine the best measure a beautician should take to avoid the harmful effects of these chemicals, we can refer to the Hierarchy of Controls. If you are an employer or employee of a hair salon, you may choose to start at the top of the hierarchy. In doing so, you might want to eliminate the hazard by tailoring the services you offer do that you avoid any contact with harsh chemicals. On the other hand, this might not be economically feasible as limiting your services might result in loss of clients. If you were to move down the hierarchy, you might want to substitute the products you currently use for those without the harsh chemicals.

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Hair dye being prepared using disposable gloves. Image source: (Family Health Team, 2015)

If you find this difficult, you might want to isolate certain services in the salon to limit contact with the chemicals. For example, isolating hair dying and bleaching to an area away from the main floor of the salon. There is the option of engineering controls, such as ensuring proper ventilation of all areas of the salon. Administrative controls can also be of assistance, by developing and implementing policies and procedures for chemical handling, storage, usage and disposal. Ensuring that all staff members are well trained can also help to reduce the risk. And finally, personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided to salon workers, for example provision of aprons and disposable gloves for use when mixing or applying hair dye, bleaches and other chemicals.

 

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Image source: (Seton, 2016)

Tip #2: How to avoid slip and trip hazards

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), over 300,000 cases of days away from work due to slips, trips and falls were reported in 2014. Slips and trips can occur in numerous ways. Often, it’s due to lack of traction between our shoes and walking surfaces. For beauticians, an accumulation of shorn hair on the floor or residue from hair products and sprays can become a slip hazard while loose cords on the floor from electrical tools, such as flat irons, blow dryers and curling irons can become a trip hazard.

So what should be done?

Salon employees should therefore clean the floors frequently, disposing of shorn hair and cleaning any residues that may make the floors slippery. Employees should also wear non-skid shoes. Cords should be tied up or taped down to reduce the risk of injury due to trips. Employers should avoid flooring with glazed or shiny finishes as this may increase chances of slips. Skid-resistant floors, which will provide more friction, might be preferred.

Tip #3: How to deal with ergonomic hazards

There are a myriad of ergonomic hazards present in the average hair salon. Hairdressers are often on their feet for almost the entire day. Standing for such long periods can potentially expose hairdressers to muscle and spine complications such as muscle fatigue, muscle strain, varicose veins and back pain.

So what should be done?

In order to rectify this issue, a hairstylist should ensure that the client sits on an adjustable chair so that the client and hairstylist are at levelled height. Levine and Gelb (2003) suggests that, in order to reduce fatigue and maintain poise when working on a client’s hair, stylists should use what is commonly known as a ‘hair cutting stool’ as opposed to standing. The photos below are an illustration of the do’s and don’ts of this ergonomic hazard.

In order to further reduce the risk of injury, the owner of the salon should consider adding anti-fatigue mats to areas in the salon that are used for tasks that involve long hours standing, such as around the client’s chair and in the shampoo area. Workers should also pay attention to the shoes that they wear. The preferred option should be to wear shoes with proper arch support and cushioning (Salaptek, 2014). In addition to providing the necessary equipment, employers should take the time to educate their workers about proper posture and the importance of tools such a hair cutting stool and how they help to reduce pain, fatigue and risk of injury.

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Awkward grip of utensils. Image source: (Ergonomics Simplified, 2016)

According to a publication by the European Agency for Safety and Health, any awkward gripping of work utensils together with constant sharp and forceful movements may result in problems with the elbow, wrist and hand (EU-OSHA, 2014). Such problems include carpal tunnel syndrome and damage to nerves and tendons from the forearm to the wrist.  The Agency suggests use of utensils with a bended or adjustable grip as these can keep the wrists straight. Additionally, training and instructions on the proper use of these tools are essential.

Another ergonomic hazard in hair salons comes by their use of towels. After washing a client’s hair, a hairdresser might wrap a towel around the client’s head and neck to absorb dripping water from the wet hair. These towels are then dumped into a basket which will later be laundered. As the basket becomes filled with wet towels, the weight increases, and salon workers might be inclined to bend and lift it when the time arrives to launder. Such lifting of heavy items is an ergonomic hazard.

According to the OSHA Technical Manual, published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Unit of the United States Department of Labour, back injuries can develop as a result of a single traumatic event, or as a result of gradual microtrauma caused over a period of time (Occupational Safety, 1993). The slow progress of gradual microtrauma leads is too often ignored until it the symptoms become acute. This type of microtrauma is what would be most often seen in hair salons as a result of lifting or manual handling of heavy towel baskets, and indeed any heavy items in the shop.

Our recommendations?

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Commercial grade rolling laundry basket. Image source: (Whitmor, 2016)

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Elevated laundry basket. Image source: (World Marker, 2016)

In using the Hierarchy of Controls to reduce the risk of serious back injury to workers, the option to eliminate the ergonomic hazard by discarding the practice of using baskets might be difficult as this is conventional and cost-effective practice, but employers can substitute the basket with one that does not require constant lifting, such as one with wheels. Additionally, employers might want to rotate employees to perform this task. In addressing the issue of back injuries in relation to heavy lifting, we recommend elevating the basket.

Not all lifting of heavy objects is bad for our health. Salon employees should be instructed on how to properly lift heavy objects and avoid back injury. They should also be constantly reminded by relevant signage (pictured below). 

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Tip #4: How to deal with electrical hazards

It is common for a large hair dryer or even a hand held hairdryer to be placed near the salon’s sink. At a hair salon, water and electrical items can come into close range of each other. To avoid, shock, burn and electrocution, employers and employers can implement the techniques below.  

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Image source: (“Ground Fault Circuit”, 2011)

In using the Hierarchy of Controls, an employer might choose to remove the hazard. While this may solve the problem, it might be impractical as many techniques performed in a hair salon require electrical appliances. A better choice might be engineering controls by installing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets to maintain electrical safety and to secure the outlets that are likely to come in contact with water. There is also the option to isolate the hazard by rearranging, separating areas for washing from areas for styling with electrical appliances.

However, everyone has a part to play in health and safety, therefore salon workers should regularly inspect electrical cords and appliances for fraying or wear and tear, and ensure that they are tagged after testing so that substandard devices can be replaced. Regular inspections by a qualified electrician are also recommended. On a separate but pertinent point, salons should be outfitted with sufficient electrical outlets in order to prevent existing outlets from being overloaded.

Concerned about overloading of extension sockets? Here’s a video on ‘How to avoid overloading…’

Video Source: (247 Home Rescue, 2015)

Tip #5: How to deal with biological hazards

Salon workers use few tools for multiple clients. It is essential to ensure that their tools are properly sanitized to reduce the presence of biological hazards which can affect the scalp, hair and skin of one client and spread to another. By virtue of the nature of the job, it might be difficult to completely eliminate this hazard. However, moving down the hierarchy of controls to a viable solution brings us to administrative controls.

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Proper hand washing procedure. Image source: (Pfuntuner, 2016)

 

 

Employees should be properly instructed and trained as to the importance and performance of sanitation practices and procedures. Cleaning of all equipment after use should be mandatory at the salon to avoid the spread of harmful pathogens and bacteria such as staphylococcus, scalp ringworm and parasites. Salon employees should also regularly wash their hands, with antibacterial soap, in an effort to reduce spreading of germs between clients and to themselves. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work suggests that, as a matter of routine, brushes, combs, scissors, razors and clippers etc., must be washed in hot soapy water and then immersed in disinfectant solution for 15-20 mins. One such disinfectants solution is barbicide which is a germicide, fungicide and virucide.

Tips For Hair Salon Clients

There are many hazards present in your average hair salon. We have mentioned above, a few serious hazards that are often overlooked by hair salon employees and employers. However, the hazards in a hair salon do not only affect the employees and employers, but they can also affect clients of the salon. If clients are not keeping a keen eye out they may not even notice hazards that may affect them until it is too late. If you are a client of a hair salon, then in an effort to prevent you from becoming a casualty of that salon, wish to provide you with tips on a few hazards that you should look out for on your next trip to the salon.

Tip #1: Look out for chemical hazards

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The air at a salon might be a chemical cocktail. Image source: (Oliver, 2013)

As the client, you should pay attention to what products are being used in your hair. It is your duty to ensure that the products used would not harm you in any way. You should also make sure that you are not allergic to any of the products by reading the labels of the products to have an understanding of their composition.

You should also take note of the use of any flammable products used in your hair (refer to the table above). If any such chemicals are used, you would need to make sure that you stay clear of any open flames until the chemical is cleansed from your hair.

Additionally, you should understand method of usage for any chemicals to be used on your hair in order to ensure that the hairdresser is using the product correctly. For example, it is important that the recommended time is not exceeded when having a perm or relaxer treatment in your hair as the product may cause damage to your hair and scalp or even burns and nerve damage. Further, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work emphasizes the importance of proper ventilation of the salon to minimize exposure to harmful chemicals. Therefore, you should make sure that your salon is well ventilated.

Tip #2: Look out for slip & trip hazards

It is important to pay attention while walking within the salon to ensure that you avoid any slips and trips. Pay attention to the hair which may be left on the floor as this causes a slippery surface. If there are loose cords on the floor, be wary and try to avoid them. You may also bring these loose cords to the attention of your hairdresser, pointing out the trip hazard which can endanger the workers of the salon and fellow customers, so that the issue might be rectified.

Tip #3: Look for ergonomic hazards

Not only are the employers or employees susceptible to ergonomic hazards but so too are the hair salon’s clients. Clients may experience discomfort due to the inappropriate furniture used at the hair salon. You should make sure that the chairs used for washing your hair allows you to recline comfortably to the sink so as to not cause you to stretch your neck over the chair to meet the edge of the sink. Holding the latter position for the duration of your shampoo treatment could cause muscle strain and neck pain.

Tip #4: Look out for electrical hazards

In many salons hairdressers use a number of different electrical devices, mentioned above, such as flat irons, hair dryers and curling irons. While they may be blow drying your hair they may also have the flat iron and curling iron plugged in and preheating, so that they can quickly switch between tools. Sometimes, these various tools may be plugged into the same outlet. Overloading of electrical outlets is an electrical hazard, so be sure to check out the electrical outlets and power-strips making sure that they are not overloaded since this puts you at risk. Also look out for torn or worn out insulation on the cords of electrical devices. 

Be very vigilant about electrical hazards since these can lead to fires. Since hair stylists often use flammable chemicals on their client’s hair, your hair could very well be at risk for catching fire in the event a fire were to break out in a salon.

 

Tip #5: Look out for biological hazards

barbicide

Barbicide: a disinfectant solution; a germicide, fungicide and virucide. Image Source: (Renscene Ltd, 2016)

 

It is important that you check to see if salon tools are regularly sanitized. Ensure that the hair brushes, curlers, combs and other tools are cleaned and no excess hair is left behind from other clients. These tools can be cleaned by using barbicide or any other equal or better method. Ensure that stylists also wash their hands with antibacterial soap after dealing with another client before moving on to you.

In closing…

To sum things up, hairdressers and employers should be aware of the harsh chemicals found in common salon products and the effects they can have on the human body. Use measures such as substitution or changing administrative controls to reduce the risk of exposure. Try to avoid slip and trip hazards in the workplace by often cleaning your floor space. For better ergonomic practices, employ the method of using a hair cutting stool to sit while cutting hair and use appliances with adjustable grips to avoid awkward gripping on salon tools. Use rolling laundry basket to avoid frequent lifting of laundry baskets but if you must lift, then remember to bend your knees. You might want to invest in a GFCI outlet and avoid overloading of electrical outlets. Remember to practice proper hygiene and properly sanitize salon tools. If you are a client, be on the look out for the hazards discussed above. These are the chemical hazards, slip and trip hazards, ergonomic hazards, electrical hazards and biological hazards. Whether you are a hair salon worker, an employer or a client, we hope that these tips will help you to become more aware of the hazards that may be present in your salon and how you can mitigate these hazards and their associated risks by implementing the hierarchy of controls. With these tips in mind, your next haircut will be a cut above the rest! 
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References

247 Home Rescue. (2015, November 18). How to avoid overloading extension sockets – 24|7 Home Rescue YouTube video file. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwqNdmN2Zd8

Accuform. (2016). OSHA Notice Safety Sign: Avoid Contamination – Wash Your Hands. [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.accuform.com/safety-sign/notice-avoid-contamination-wash-your-hands-wgraphic-MRST804

Beauty and Its Beast: Unmasking the Impacts of Toxic Chemicals on Salon Workers. (2014). Women’s Voices For The Earth. Retrieved October 19, 2016 from: http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Beauty-and-Its-Beast-fact-sheet.pdf

Edwards, C. (2015). Haz waste in the workplace – salon [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.grundon.com/Blog/Hazardous-Waste-In-The-Workplace

Ergonomics Simplified. (2016) Hairdresser 5 [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.ergonomicssimplified.com/professions/hairdresser

EU-OSHA (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work). (2014). Occupational health and safety in the hairdressing sector. Retrieved from: https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/literature_reviews/occupational-health-and-safety-in-the-hairdressing-sector

Family Health Team. (2015). Use Hair Dye? Watch for Red Flags With Salon or Box Color. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/01/use-hair-dye-watch-for-red-flags-whether-its-salon-or-box-color/

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): Prevention from Shock Hazards. (2011). SafeElectricity.org. Retrieved from: https://www.safeelectricity.org/information-center/library-of-articles/55-home-safety/317-ground-fault-circuit-interrupters-gfcis

Levine, K., and Gelb, A. (2003). A Survival Guide for Cosmetologists: Tips from the Trenches. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning

Matthew, S. (2016). Keeping construction workers safe around high-voltage assets. Entura. Retrieved from: http://www.entura.com.au/keeping-construction-workers-safe-around-high-voltage-assets/Madelin, C. (2015). Hairstylists Are More Likely To Have Alzheimer’s And Eczema, According To  Studies. The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/27/hairstylists-are-more-lik_n_7451216.html

Melbourne Institute of Nails & Beauty. (2014, October 12). Occupational health and safety in a hairdressing salon – Lesson. YouTube video file. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBc4rIg0k3Q&noredirect=1

MySafteySign.com. (2016). Lifting Instruction Signs [Online Images]. Retrieved from: http://www.mysafetysign.com/lifting-instruction-signs

Nemer, M., P. Kristensen, K. Nijem, E. Bjertness, and M. Skogstad. 2013. “Respiratory function and chemical exposures among female hairdressers in Palestine.” Occupational Medicine 63, no. 1: 73. E-Journals, EBSCOhost (accessed October 20, 2016).

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1993). OSHA Technical Manual. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_vii/otm_vii_1.html#3

Oliver, Dana. (2013) HAIR-SALON-HAZARDS-570 [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/hair-salon-hazards-photos_n_3389688.html

Paragon STL. (n.d.). Highly Flammable Household Objects [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.paragonstl.com/highly-flammable-household-objects/

Pfuntner, A. (2011). 2311 Sanitation Fig 1 [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2011/proper-hand-washing-a-vital-food-safety-step/

Renscene Ltd. (2016). Barbicide 1 Litre Jar [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.hairproducts.co.uk/barbicide_1litrejar.php

RPM Therapy. (2016). Preferred and Non preferred Positions [Online Images]. Retrieved from: http://rpm-therapy.com/2012/hairdressers-salons-prevent-work-related-injuries/

Salaptek, L. (2014). Stand all day? 9 Ways You Can Reduce Leg, Foot and Back Pain. Modern Salon. Retrieved from: http://www.modernsalon.com/article/24830/stand-all-day-9-ways-you-can-reduce-leg-foot-and-back-pain

Seton.(2016). Be Aware of Slips, Trips & Falls Poster. [Online Image]. Retrieved from: https://goo.gl/images/2S3ZwJ

Toxic Chemicals in Salon Products. (2016). Women’s Voices For The Earth. Retrieved October 19, 2016 from: http://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/salon-products/toxic-chemicals-in-salon-products-workers

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015, November  19). NONFATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES AND ILLNESSES REQUIRING DAYS AWAY FROM WORK, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf

Weber, T., Nevala, A., and Mantouvalou., K. (2011) Final report.  Retrieved from: http://www.coiffure.eu/websites/anko_coiffure/files/2011%20June%20Final%20report%20Tina%20Weber%20H&S.pdf

Whitmor. (2016). Commercial Round Laundry Hamper [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://whitmor.com/laundry-garment/commercial-round-laundry-hamper.html

World Market. (2016) Ellie Rolling Laundry Cart [Online Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.worldmarket.com/product/ellie+rolling+laundry+cart.do?pftv=58DXVvubDr


1 Comment

We’re back at it again…. but this time we investigated an Auto Garage in Curepe.

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Panoramic View of Auto Garage Located in Curepe. Source: Image captured from mobile device

 Hazards of an Auto Garage’s clutter.

Our group visited an auto garage, located  in Curepe, on Monday 17th October, 2016. The auto garage specializes in the restoration of damaged vehicles and also in the sale of used parts and auto maintenance. This auto garage was established 30 years ago and is still serving the public today. After gaining permission from the owner, our group took a tour of the garage to ascertain the potential hazards that may threaten the safety of workers and visitors. The Trinidad and Tobago Occupational Safety and Health Act of 2004 as amended in 2006 (OSH ACT 2006); Section 13A states,“Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient annual assessment of— (a) the risks to the safety and health of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and (b) the risks to the safety and health of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the environmental impact of his undertaking”. After a discussion with the owner, he allowed us to investigate his premises for potential hazards which was the intent and rational for our visit. This auto garage employs six persons, the youngest being 22-years old and they all face the same type of occupational, and health and safety risks.  There were many exposures which we observed including:

  • Exposure to chemicals and vehicle exhaust
  • Exposure to biological material and asbestos
  • Injuries like sprain cuts and bruises
  • Fatalities from falling vehicular parts.
  • Awkward ,repetitive or prolonged periods of stationary posture during maintenance
  • Over-crowding in the auto garage.
  • Handling vehicle parts or heavy objects e.g. suspension component, batteries and brakes assembles

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

TRIP AND FALL HAZARDS

Upon our visit to the garage we encountered many trip and fall hazards. One of our group members actually tripped and almost fell. Although this was not the case, this mishap led us to the idea to videotape so that viewers would have better clarity (her trip happened for a reason). Nevertheless, discussed further are some of the trip and fall hazards that were present at the garage.

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Gif 1 demonstrating member tripping on engine hoist

Source: Video captured using mobile device and Gif 1 created using http://giphy.com/

On entrance to the garage there was an Engine Hoist. An engine hoist or engine

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Engine Hoist. Source: Image captured from mobile device

crane (better known as a cherry picker) is basically a repair tool that is used in garage workshops or workshops of similar nature, to install or remove motor vehicular engines, in small or crowded vehicle engine compartments. This tool was spotted as our first trip and fall hazard, the hazard one of our members literally experienced (refer to Gif 1). The Engine Crane was found to be where customers/clients would use as a walkway. Knowing the design of an engine hoist, the legs of this tool was left unfolded, leaving customers and workers vulnerable to injury. Another part of the tool, seen as a hook hanging from the top, could have easily pierced someone and this could have led to a cut or stick injury.

Solution: Engine Hoists are designed in such a way that its legs can be folded when it’s not in use. The practice of folding its legs when workers no longer use the tool should be adopted. The engine hoist should be folded and secured in an area where the customers and other persons are not likely to encounter such risks.

We also noticed several garbage piles throughout the garage. These garbage piles had pieces of wires, steel, glass and rubber. The contents of the garbage piles could have easily tripped someone, especially the wire and rubber refuse causing that person to fall. Furthermore, if a trip and fall incident were to occur, the person would be exposed to bruises and splinters from shattered glass perforating the skin.

Solution: In so saying, we highly commend their attempts for up keeping the cleanliness of the workplace, but, simply discarding these garbage piles to a main dumpster, would have been a better approach than leaving the garbage piles in the walkway. In addition to this, different containers could have been set into place to discard different types of materials used. For example, a container or bins for rubber refuse.

Moving into the “stockroom” of the garage, there was an ultimate high risk of trip and fall

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Walkway displaying vehicular parts. Source: Image captured from mobile device

hazards that workers could have been exposed to. Different motor parts, fuel hoses, engine parts, screws, bolts, just to mention a few were seen scattered along the pathway where the parts were being kept. This was noticed for every lane which stocked motor vehicular parts. When workers are sent to look for particular parts, because of its obstructed view, and cluttered pathways, they would be most susceptible to trip and fall incidents.

Solution: Parts should be packed away in such a manner that it would not be scattered on the pathway. If this cannot be done, parts should be packed neatly against the shelves, leaving a clear mid walkway for workers to use. Additionally, the organization of such parts should be emphasized to workers, and make it known to workers, the risk they are creating for themselves. Another solution may be to expand the storage space so that there is sufficient room to accommodate any loose, extra or new parts.

 

Additionally, there was poor lighting under the sheds and according to the OSH Act amended in 2006, Sec 33 (1), it states that, “ In every part of an establishment where employees are working or passing, there shall be provided and maintained sufficient and suitable lighting…..” As noted, this section of the Act was breached. The areas where car parts were being kept was dark . This could have caused any person who enters that area to fall, because of little objects present and not being able to see well, causing a person to trip and fall. Also, poor lighting could cause eye strain to workers who are in search for a particular part. Could you imagine having to look for a screw in that dark area, more so, where the area in search is clustered with different objects? Surely a phone’s flashlight won’t help!

Solution: The owner should provide sufficient lighting so that workers would not have difficulty finding a part when needed. This would prevent eye strains, as well as, someone falling because they cannot see where they are going.

SLIP AND FALL HAZARDS

 Unknown chemicals were noticed spilled in different areas of the garage. Workers,

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Chemical spills on the floor. Source: Image captured from mobile device

customers and clients could have been predisposed to slipping on these contents and falling. Furthermore, some of these contents could have contained substances that some persons could have had a sensitive/allergic reaction to. The effects of such may have been even more detrimental.

Solution: Clean up spills immediately after there is a chemical spillage. If this cannot be done immediately after, have appropriate signs/notices displayed to that effect. Also, if the spillage is as a result of pouring out chemicals from vehicles or other containers, there should be specific filter apparatus to assist, in order to prevent spillage of contents.

CRUSH HAZARDS

Crush hazards can cause injuries to ones limbs or other body parts, and in extreme situations cause amputations or even death. These injuries can be caused by having contact with moving equipment, machinery or parts and persons may be struck by an object or equipment that may fall/collapse.

Upon visiting the auto garage, there were many objects that can be seen as a crush hazard.

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Car Doors Hanging on metal hooks. Source: Image captured from mobile device

There were many car doors that were hanging from a metal hook in a specific area in the garage. Since this particular area in the garage was overcrowded with these doors and was closely packed together, there was a risk that while taking down one it may cause another to fall on a person and crush them. Persons may be pinned or caught under the door that fell. A door is very big and heavy, and could cause serious damage if it falls on someone, may cause amputations by the sharp edges or head injuries.

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Car  Grill hung from the ceiling on a metal hook. Source: Image captured from mobile device

In another area of the garage, a car grill was seen hanging from the roof. If this was not properly fastened it can fall on someone and cause injuries. Throughout the garage, car parts were seen packed onto shelves that were high as the roof. The aisles were narrow and offered a limited area for movement. Getting access to car parts at the highest points within this confined space seemed difficult and would be dangerous to all workers. Objects can fall from high points onto a worker’s head or body and can cause injury.

Solution:  The employer should ensure that the means by which the car doors are stored is safe enough for movement of workers while they are on the job. He should ensure that the doors are properly fastened and will not fall on his workers. The car parts on the shelves should be securely placed and not overstocked on the shelves. There should be no parts hanging down from the shelves that can easily fall and injure workers.

Also the workers should wear personal protective equipment such as steel-toed shoes for protection of the feet and hard hat for protection of the head. According to the OSH Act amended in 2006, in section 23(1) it speaks of persons in an establishment that are at risk of head, eye, ear, foot and hand injury should be provided with suitable protective clothing or devices.

Most importantly, workers should be trained on handling and proper storage of these car parts.

FIRE HAZARDS

According to Safeopedia.com, fire hazards include all types of live flames, causes of sparks, hot objects, and chemicals that are potential for ignition, or that can aggravate a fire to become large and uncontrolled. Fire hazards also include all types of potential threats to fire prevention practices, firefighting, built-in fire safety systems and situations that restrict the escape of people from an affected building or area in the event of a fire.

 Class B Fires

These fires involve flammable liquids including oils, grease, tar, lacquers, flammable gases, oil-based paints, and some plastics. (F.I.E.L.D.S. Fire Protection Inc. 2011)

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No Smoking Sign. Source: Image captured from mobile device

At the garage, one potential fire hazard was the workers smoking cigarettes near oil spills while taking a break, even though there was a no smoking sign. There were many oils spills throughout the compound which could have easily caused a fire if a cigarette butt had been carelessly discarded on the floor.

Solution: Workers should not smoke on the compound. If the smokers need to smoke they can exit the compound, smoke and then return because the garage is located near the road.

Another hazard at the garage was the improper storage of flammable and hazardous

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Unsecured Propane Gas Cylinder. Source: Image captured from mobile device

materials and chemicals. A propane gas tank was seen standing unsecured behind some car parts exposed to the elements. If the compressed gas cylinder was knocked over, it could have exerted a tremendous force!

Solutions: Gas cylinders should be stored in the upright position and secured with an insulated chain or non-conductive belt. The area must be clearly identified, dry, well-ventilated, away from doorways, aisles, elevators, and stairs. With outside storage, place on a fireproof surface and enclose in a tamper-proof enclosure.

Subsequently, the hindrance to sight or to reach firefighting equipment, markings and alarm systems was another hazard. One fire extinguisher was in the office area under the desk and the other at the side of the freezer. When asked, “Do you have any fire extinguishers”, the owner replied, “Yeah yeah, it in the office. Everything check out and up to date”. The fire extinguisher however, had not been serviced since 10th September, 2012.

Source: Images captured from mobile device

Solutions: Fire extinguishers should be near the work area and easily accessible. Dry chemical, cartridge and cylinder operated fire extinguishers, with mild steel shells should be serviced every year. Employees should be trained to use fire extinguishers (refer to image below), and should know where the fire alarm is, and emergency evacuation and assembly procedures.

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Image showing how to use a fire extinguisher

Source: http://americleaninc.com/how-to-use-a-fire-extinguisher/

The last fire hazard was the absence of a fire detection and alarm system. The garage was loacted under a house. The people living upstairs would be unaware of any fires and in the event of a fire, rapid evacuation is key to survival!

Solution: Fire detection and automatic or semi-automatic fire alarm systems must be installed to prevent injury and to avoid serious damage to property.

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

Chemical hazards can pose harmful health effects and can lead to physical hazards as well. While exploring other hazards on the compound we came across numerous chemical hazards. These hazards identified may seem normal as it is an auto garage but they can still pose some threat to both the workers, passers-by and to the environment.

One of these hazards found… well …smelt was a pungent odour of old oil and other unidentified odours. Inhaling chemicals everyday can have drastic effects on all body systems. These effects can be either acute (shows up immediately or soon after exposure) or chronic (takes years to show up). On the floor, we noticed old oil spills, which were being decomposed by the sun, car parts with chemical residue, an open car bonnet and opened containers of unknown substances, these all contributed to the foul odours. According to The OSH Act amended in 2006, fumes and other impurities emitted from an establishment that are injurious or offensive to the employees, measures must be taken to protect the employees from inhalation.

Source: Images captured from mobile device

Solutions: Some of these odours cannot be avoided but can be reduced.Regular power washing of the area can be used to remove old oils from emitting fumes, re-covering containers or appropriately disposing of containers which are not in use or by purchasing an air cleaner to aid in purification of the air in the auto shops.

Another hazard spotted was chemicals laying around in soft drink, detergent, other bottles and some in their original containers. Although some of the bottles were labeled (not clearly), others were not and they were inappropriately stored. Some may have been corrosive and deteriorate the bottles exposing their contents. The OSH Act amended in 2006 states that chemicals must be clearly labeled, all labels should be legible and in good condition. Repair or replace damaged or missing labels. Chemicals that are not in the manufacturer’s original container must be labeled with the content indicating if it is hazardous to warn individuals in the work area. Not labeling these chemicals at all or properly especially if it is a commonly known drinking bottle can lead to accidental ingestion and we don’t think degreaser taste like soft drink.

Source: Images captured from mobile device

Solutions: Other than labeling containers appropriately, having a designated area for these chemicals with appropriate and adequate storage cabinets or shelves would help to avoid accidental ingestion or spillage. The usse of appropriate containers for transfer of chemicals would also avoid spillage.

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

An ergonomic hazard can be defined as any work place conditions that can cause a potential risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system of an individual. According to the University of Chicago, Environment Health and Safety,  ergonomic hazards can be caused by repetition of specific movements, extremes of temperature, vibrations, forceful movement and unnatural postures to name a few. In the setting of, a mechanical workshop or garage, there can be an increased risk for ergonomic hazards due to the propping of workers to check the engine of the vehicle and performing work for extended periods of time.

At this garage, the workers can be seen carrying on an examination of a vehicle. As seen

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Workers seen bending over a vehicle. Source: Image captured from mobile device

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Workers checking vehicle. Source: Image captured from mobile device

in the image, these workers are bent over looking at the vehicle and this was done for a total of fifteen minutes. In this mechanical field, workers have high risk for acute musculoskeletal injures like tendon rupture or hernia cause by overexertion and poor posture for prolonged periods of time and carpal tunnel syndrome Additionally, workers can be susceptible to muscle sprains and strains due to improper lifting of objects. Individuals may not always know the proper method for lifting objects, or they may just resort to using short cuts and this can lead to injuries. Personal protective equipment, or PPE is designed to protect workers from serious work place injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical,  physical, electrical, mechanical or other work place hazards.  These  workers are seen here with no personal protective wear such as   coveralls, safety goggles or safety shoes while carrying out their duties.  The OSH Act amended in 2006, clearly states that it is the duty of an employer to supply his workers with adequate PPE at the work place.

Solution: Proper supportive wear should be worn by all workers such as back braces and

wrist bands during working hours. Heavy objects should be pushed instead of being dragged.

When lifting heavy objects:

  1. Keep a wide stance
  2. Squat down do not bend
  3. Maintain a good posture
  4. Slowly lift using your legs not you back
  5. Hold the object at belly button level
  6. When setting the object down ensure that you squat

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

At this auto garage, customers are free to walk around but there are various car parts stacked along the path ways on heights. This can cause stress and anxiousness because these items are not secured and can fall and result in bodily harm. On the shelves, there are vehicular parts projecting onto the pathway, a customer who is not mindful can walk into these items. For me, now being aware of various potential hazards walking through this establishment, caused a lot of anxiety as I knew what could have happened if these objects were to fall, and this can happen to customers. The bathroom was located at the back of the business and the pathway had little lighting and was cluttered with car parts and this could be frustrating to some customers.

Source: Images captured from mobile device

Solutions:

  • Customers should be restricted from walking through this business or if is necessary for the customer to walk through, a worker should be there to direct the customers.
  • The pathway should be cleared of all debris and the bathroom should be relocated to the front of the business.

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

It was evident that this establishment was overcrowded and cluttered on entry. There were

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Stacked Tyres exposed to Environmental Elements. Source: Image captured from mobile device

stacked tyres exposed to environmental elements and several tyres that were not properly stored. These tyres may collect moisture and become the perfect environment for the breeding of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are known to be the carriers of Dengue fever, Yellow fever, Chikungunya and the Zika Virus, all of which are prominent in the society. All employees, visitors or customers and environs are at risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and may become infected with any of the previously mentioned mosquito borne diseases.

Solutions: 

  • Tyres should be neatly stored and covered to prevent the collection of water. The area where the tyres are stored should be fumigated evry three months.
  • Employees should apply insect repellent to exposed sections of their body.
  • Visitors/Customers should have limited access to areas where mosquito infestation may be high.

Another area which posed potential biological hazards was the improper storage of large quantities of miscellaneous materials.  Improperly stored materials may create a habitat for rodents and roaches.  Roaches are known to be carriers of Salmonella and E. coli bacteria while rodents are responsible for Leptospirosis and Rat bite fever. Workers are at the greatest risk since these rodents and roaches may come into contact with foodstuff in the kitchen and, or lunch room.

Solutions:

  • This garage should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and unwanted objects should be discarded monthly.
  • A proper storage plan should be implemented and followed.
  • Items should be stored above the ground on metal or mesh shelves.
  • Routine fumigation and the setting up of rodent and roach traps throughout the facility, these should be installed and monitored by a professional pest control company.
  • All foodstuff should be stored in properly sealed containers and, or refrigerated.
  • All eating and drinking utensils should be washed before they are used.

 

HANDLING THE RISKS: 

Firstly the manager needs to recognize the risk in order to become aware of the potential hazards and concerns. The owner can adopt these steps to reduce the risk at his work place by incorporating the following recommendation:

  • Identify all the hazards in these categories; physical,chemical, biological, ergonomic and psychological and train workers on how to recognize and avoid  them.
  • Conduct annual risk assessments and/or in 6 months if there has been a significant change
  • Inspect tools and equipment regularly
  • Ask workers to report any hazards right away
  • Wear protective gloves and other protective equipment when working with solvents and other hazardous materials.
  • Clean up spills promptly.

In conclusion, there can be numerous hazards at any establishment and it was no different for this Auto Garage.  As mentioned before the employer plays a major role in ensuring the safety of his workers and the OSH Act list this as one of the duties of an employer. Once you have become sensitized to Health and Safety issues it becomes easier to identify them. Some readers may even be able to identify additional hazards that were not previously mentioned and that is excellent.

Here are some extra photos we took of the Auto Garage. Can you identify the hazards? Respond in the comments.

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Source: Images captured from mobile device

References



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For Colored Girls: Tyler Perry

 

 

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So you are probably wondering why of all the movies available we choose this depressing chic flick; besides the fact that estrogen outweighs testosterone 7-1 in our group. This movie shows the the struggles of colored women. While we might agree it is over done and there is no lack of exaggeration, it highlights major life issues but more relevant to us many health and safety hazards and violations. The movie presents a roller coaster of emotions swirling through surprise, anger, hurt, happiness and sadness. What presents even more of a thrill for the ladies is the A-list cast of “finnnnne” black men Michael Ealy, Omari Hardwick and, for our one sole guy on the team the beautiful ladies like Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson and Loretta Devine. The entire cast kept us intrigued and the Director Mr Tyler Perry, who with the help of these actresses, played powerful, tragic characters showing all the dangers in these real life situations. As the UWI OSH Enforcers we will take you on an eye opening journey to expose all these heinous safety hazards.

The movie begins on a somber note where the nine women recite portions of a poem “Dark Phrases of Womanhood” while going on about some activity varying from dancing freely, to the extreme of laying in bed and having what appears to be non consensual sex.

ERGONOMIC AND PHYSICAL HAZARDS

The beginning ballet segment showcased certain 

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Fig 1

opportunities in which the dancer’s physical well-being could have been threatened.These would have manifested as slips, trips, falls, sprains and strains due to poor ergonomic design of her footwear. The shoes intended to protect her feet from soft tissue injuries in tandem with the floors surface would have ironically ended in her harm.

As the movie progressed Alice’s apartment raises concerns. The elements required to stir the perfect fire can be found in the apartment; oxygen, ignition from the several lit candle, candle’s wax, wooden shutters and many other flammable materials in the environment acting as fuel.

This is referred to as the fire triangle.

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Fig 2 : Shows a diagrammatical representation of the Fire Triangle. 

Alice’s apartment not only endangers her but her surrounding neighbors in the apartment complex. As Alice enters her apartment we see a cluttered environment presenting slip, trip, falls, and even stacks falling over hitting her in the head.

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Fig 3: Shows a scene of Alice entering her apartment showing slip trip and fall hazards

The security at the front entrance that is suppose to regulate who enters and exists the building is not properly layout where anyone is allowed easy access. This was clearly seen when the social worker was leaving and the gentle was allowed access. Additionally while she exhibited etiquette by buzzing into the apartment another female: Juanita, was to enter freely. If possible separate entrances where one is used to enter and one to exit the building.  

When Thandi Newton male friend is leaving the apartment building, Juantia and Kelly are introduced on the staircase climbing grueling staircases facing a slip,trip or fall incident.

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Fig 4: Shows the dangerous stairs in the apartment building

Common injuries can be neck, foot, back or hip injuries, fractured arms or even injuries to the back of the head or the face. Hand railings should be at an appropriate height in case one loses their balance to avoid falling over. The length of the staircase also pose threats in case of an emergency and no existing elevators. Also, fatigue and dehydration can cause accidents as the human brain is unable to focus, be alert and reaction time is very slow. All due to the long flight of stairs the tenants have to endure to arrive at their apartment.

 BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL HAZARDS

The threats  in Alice’s apartment may be strongly seen in the form of moles growing in unseen places covered by clutter. We then see Thandi Newton breaking the news to whom she addresses as a strange man in her bed that she can’t see him anymore because his wife is looking for him but no mention is made whether or not protection was used knowing he has more than one sexual partner, thereby exposing herself to STD’s. 

Whilst at home Jo talks to her husband who we remember as being busted having oral sex in a car with another man while in a relationship with his wife another instance where the risk of STD is present.

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Fig 5 & 6: The unsanitary equipment laid out on a try and a close up image of the rusty equipment use in back alley abortions

 

 

 

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Desperate not to disappoint her mother Nyla resorts to having a back alley abortion in an unsanitary environment where unsanitary tools are seen in a bucket and in a tray .

Attempting to sanitize the tools the abortionist throws an unknown liquid into the bucket before carrying out the procedure. The use of unsterilized equipment to perform abortions with inadequate medical facilities and a medically untrained practitioner. Moreover, the use of chemical substances in which its initial function has no sterilizing effects can lead to chemical and biological hazards. The use of unsterilized equipment to carry out abortion

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Fig 7: Shows the tools being sanitized in a bucket with an unknown solution

with inadequate medical facilities and a medically untrained practitioner. Moreover, the use of chemical substances in which its initial function has no sterilizing effects can lead to chemical and biological hazards.

 

 

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

When Kelly finally reaches the top of the stairs we meet Crystal who has two beautiful children and is in a relationship with a former war veteran who exhibits Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and unsuccessfully tries to mask it with alcohol and ignoring medical requirements. While trying to talk to the kids Beau enters the room and verbally abuses her (psychological hazard) and she frantically exists the room. The cigarette butts left in the apartment is dangerous for the two children and can contribute to a fire. This behavior can cause trauma to both Crystal and her children.

After a long day at work Juanita comes home to deal with Frank who tries to plead his case to get back in a relationship with her. This highlights how imperative the issue of safety is prevention is always better than cure. Yet again we a reminded of the life altering and damaging effects that can result when the necessary precautions are not adhered to.

At Yazmin’s apartment she invites Bill to her apartment anticipating a wonderful evening as they have had in the past but soon after his arrival Bill begins undressing and refuses to put back on his clothes.He then overpowers Yazmin and rapes her on the ground as she unsuccessfully tries to fight him off. Emotionally distraught she is seen crying trying to put herself together. She is later interrogated by an officer who questions if it was consensual. As she grips her clothes cries and bears her heart out she explains to him a rapist can be anybody. The officer sympathizes and says he would pick the bastard up. Later the officer then visits Yasmin who accompanies him to the morgue to identify her attacker’s body.

 

Beau becomes suspicious of Crystal as she pulls up in a car driven by a male unknown to him that her boss is in the back seat. He becomes abusive towards her and suspects she is having an affair-hanging her kids over the balcony as Crystal frantically tries to save them. To her dismay he lets go of them one by one. At the hospital Kelly remembers Crystal and inquires as she is being consoled by the building manager and her boss.

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Fig 8: Showing Beau hanging the children off the balcony and Crystal battling to save them

Seventy- five (75) minutes into the movie we begin to understand the emotional disconnect between Alice and her eldest daughter as she explains to her she was raped by her own father who also raped Tangie. As a result, Tangie explains she is the ‘wrath of all women’, wanting to cause pain to men, a clear psychological disorder. They both begin reciting poems as if the other was not in the room. At the end of the poem she screams for Alice to get out her apartment and is force to be nice to Gilda because she locked herself out her apartment. Ungratefully she slams the door in the building manager’s face. Despite her rudeness Gilda continues to be nice to her as she tends to her face and Tangie willingly accepts.

In a rare scene we see Jo and her husband bonding as she opens up to him about Crystal’s situation and witnessing the death of her children. Back at home Jo tells Carl she is aware of his homosexuality as she found out she is HIV positive.

CONCLUSION

The women slowly became part of each other lives and support systems when Nyla, Crystal and Kelly gather in Crystal’s apartment. Tangie and Nayla hash out their problems. Gila who comes across as nosey but is genuinely caring checks on Crystal and gives her a harsh reality check that she has to take some blame for what happened to her kids. Clearly emotionally distraught, Crystal with the help of Gilda tries to put the pieces together. positive. The movie draws to a close when the women finally come together and discuss their grief, pain, loneliness, and struggles which they have been through; embracing each other and deciding to move forward with the support of each other .