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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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 .

 

 

 

 

 


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Safety analysis of self-employed persons and recommendations for improvements.

Risk Reduction Regime embarked on a risk analysis of various self-employed persons and made recommendations that were not emphasized in The OSH Act of T& T as amended (2006.) According to the act, “self-employed person” means an individual who works for gain or reward otherwise than under a contract of employment, whether or not he himself employs others. The law states:

“7(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment, who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.

(2) It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons, not being his employees, who may be affected by his actions are not thereby exposed to risks to their safety or health.

(3) In such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer and every self- employed person, in the prescribed circumstances and in the prescribed manner, to give to persons, not being his employees, who may be affected by the way in which he conducts his undertaking, the prescribed information about such aspects of the way in which he conducts his undertaking as might affect their safety or health.” (OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT CHAPTER 88:08 Act 1 of 2004 Amended by 3 of 2006 2006)

Provisions under this section only give a generalized guideline to the self-employed persons to conduct his undertaking in such a way that would not bring harm to himself or anyone else in within his space of operations or affairs. However, it should be noted that, for self-employed persons, they themselves are the employees and thus provisions under the Act regarding duties and requirements for employees concerning safety, health, and welfare should apply to them.           

Another point to note is that workplaces and employers with less than five (5) employees are not required by law to have a physical safety policy available, and thus this means that the safety of the self-employed person lies on himself. This is then reflected when persons are going to apply for registration of their business, with the only requirements being forms of identification and a valid business name, and nothing of proof of assurance of safety in their conduct. An area of concern that should have more attention paid to it is that most self-employed persons and small businesses have young persons or untrained workers in their employment and most times no real care or due diligence is taken by their employers for their health, safety, or well being. This then leads to the speculation and assumption that self-employed persons are liable for their own safety, health, and welfare, which then should be reflected in their own conduct and culture.

What is a Risk Assessment?

An examination of what in the work place could “cause harm to persons, to enable to decide whether to take sufficient precautions to prevent harm. The aim of an assessment is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill.”(A Guide to Risk Assessment 2008)

There are five steps used to assess risks in the workplace:

  1. “Look for the hazards.
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done.
  4. Record your findings.
  5. Review your assessment and revise it if necessary” (A Guide to Risk Assessment 2008)

For the risk assessment the group looked at four self-employed persons and the analysis are as followed:

Wood Work Shop Analysis

Background of business and individual

Mr. Gow is a retired worker of the power industry of Trinidad and Tobago who has established a wood working business behind his house. The business is solely operated and not registered. Mr. Gow is highly trained in various safety procedures and use of personal protective equipment and has extensive knowledge on operating dangerous machinery.

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Woodwork: Image 1: Table with tools

   

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Woodwork: Image 2: Some protective gear

The above images shows various PPE used. Special gloves, face, eye and hearing protection as well as a head lamp is utilized. The image also shows a full body coverall to protect against flying wood chips, as well as thick rubber boots to protect the feet from any falling debris. The use of a powerful search light allows work to be done in well-lit areas. An important item that is also noted is a push stick. This is used to operate various saws and acts as an extended arm.

Mr. Gow has admitted in an interview that he practices very safe and careful working procedures and does not allow anyone to enter the workshop during work hours. He also states that he works in full PPE at all times.

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Woodwork: Image 3: Clutter at the workplace

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Woodwork: Image 4: Dangerous equipments used in daily operations

The images above show some of the materials and equipment that is interacted with on a daily basis. The woodworking machinery regulations states there must be a sufficient clear and unobstructed space at every woodworking machine

The below images shows the general workshop

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Woodwork: Image 5: The entire work space

The floor surrounding every woodworking machine shall be maintained in good and level condition, and as far as practicable, according to the woodwork machinery regulations. It was evident that Mr. Gow practice safe working conditions, from the risk assessment his work space contains many hazards.

Step 1

The ground contains many planks that may cause Mr. Gow to lose his footing. There are tools and electrical cords scattered around carelessly which may cause tripping. A vital breach of the OSH Act is the presence of saw dust on the ground which can cause individuals to slid

Step 2

Mr. Gow is the only candidate to be harmed since he lives with his wife, who doesn’t come into the workshop. Mr. Gow delivers all his products which means no customers enter the workshop.

Step 3

The main risk that exists is the risk of slipping or tripping due to the states of the walking area. Even though Mr. Gow wears shoes with grips he may still trip over a loose cord, tool or sawdust. He can damage himself slightly by falling onto the ground or suffer a major causality if he falls onto a machine that is currently in operation.

Recommendations

The main recommendation that can be put forward is to properly organize the walk way either by casting it with concrete so it can be flat or to level it with dirt and place metal gratings for added grip.

Doctor’s Office Analysis

A risk assessment was carried out at a doctor’s office.  The office services the small community of El Socorro and environs. Office days and time are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 12pm. The office space consists of three room a waiting area the doctor’s office and a toilet facility occupying a combined space of 24’ x 28’. There is a total of two staff work in this office, a doctor and a receptionist. 

Hazards Identified:

Biological

A large percentage of the patients present themselves with communicable diseases that can be spread by air droplets from coughing and sneezing. These patients pose a risk to other patients as well as staff.

Physical

The center decor in the waiting room is a very low lying chandelier, 5 feet 7 inches of the ground which can cause injury if someone is taller than this. In the case of a fire, both doors, the entrance and emergency exit, are located on the same wall. One door is glass and the other is wooden which can easily be caught a fire. There exist three burglar proof windows which have no emergency openings. Documents such as company receipts for the year, for tax purposes, are kept in a brown envelope and an organizer.

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Doctor’s Office: Image 1: Chandelier that is a physical hazard

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Doctor’s Office: Image 2:Important documents stored near to area with no emergency exits

Health and Safety Practice on a day to day basis:

Staff are kept up-to-date with vaccines to prevent acquiring infections such as chicken pox and influenza.  Personal protective equipment such as gloves, mask and gowns must be used to protect doctor and staff when performing minor surgeries. All waiting room chairs are ergonomically design to prevent back pains. There is a ramp for patients on wheelchairs to ensure easy accessibility. Patients with mental disabilities can pose a hazard towards other patients and staff therefore they may be seen as soon as possible. Drug addicts can be a threat to staff as well as patients because of their addiction to narcotics and various other drugs. Therefore, dangerous drugs and antibiotics are kept locked away in a secure hidden safe in compliance with the dangerous drug act. Needles and other medical waste are placed in specialized containers for weekly pick up to send to the appropriate the facility to ensure proper disposal.

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Doctor’s Office: Image 3: Ergonomic hazard for patients

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Doctor’s Office: Image 4: Proper signage at the office

Recommendations

All important documents including receipts and company files should be kept in a fire proof safe. To avoid physical injury, a decor table should be placed under the chandelier so people can walk around it to avoid injuring their heads. Patients who have symptoms of the flu should be quickly identified and provided with a NI 95 face mask. The wooden door should be replaced with a fireproof door as well as moved to another wall. One burglar proof window should have an emergency opening and locks and keys that can be easy located when needed.

A Carpenter’s Analysis

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Carpenter: Image 1: The workplace for roofing works

Randy Jorai is a self-employed mason and roof builder in the community of South Oropouche. His jobs include building and renovations on homes and also doing roofs for pretty much and structure that demands one. The mason part of his job is done by himself whereas the roofing part is done with a small crew of about five persons. His businesses are not registered so the OSH act does not apply to him and his workers.

The most serious and life threatening hazards on his jobs are mechanical and falling hazards. On the mason side of his job objects such as saws can pose tears and cuts to the body if not handled correctly, if the equipment is faulty or if minimum or no safety equipment is used. When doing roofing the galvanize sheets being used are very sharp and can tear the skin quite easily. The risk of this happening is further increased when the sheets need to be transported to heights for installation. Ladders are used most of the times so the risk of not only falling arises but falling and cuts to the body are the risks they take doing this. Falling objects from heights is another falling hazard when working on top of houses, workers who are working below them are at risk of falling objects such as tools and materials.

Slip and fall along with stump and fall hazards were present according to Randy. “Sometimes when a little rain fall we still have to do the work on the roof” is what he told me and this presents a slip and fall hazard as most of the roofs they do are slanted so walking on it is more difficult. He also told me that an incident occurred where the oil they used to service some of their tools had leaked on to the roof when the galvanize sheets was put down and caused one of the worker to slip and fall. Fortunately, he was able to hold on to a beam and avoided falling off the house and escaped with just a few cuts.

More on the mason side of his job lifting hazards arise where there are heavy materials to be used on the jobsite. He does his masonry work by himself so there is no help for him to move materials and tools. Back injuries can occur as a result of lifting heavy objects with improper lifting techniques such as cement bags, steel beams and concrete blocks. These are materials Randy frequently uses because most of his work deals with mixing concrete and plastering walls. The dust from the cement bags and as a result of plastering walls can cause respiratory diseases if inhaled constantly and for long periods of time.

Randy gets his work by referrals from people who he did work for before and persons who know him. As his businesses are small and not registered it is not governed by the OSH act he does not have to abide by the laws of the act. Nobody is liable for when any injury occurs on the jobsite and in an interview with Randy he told me that his work sites are mostly houses and the people who he works for often do not have any tools, just materials for the job.  So therefore he and his crew are responsible for any injuries sustained due to misused or defective equipment. Also any safety equipment that may be needed for the job will have to be provided by them and according to him they barely use such equipment. He told me that they frequently take risks because they have no training in health and safety and also because doing things the way they do often lead to the job finishing quicker which is desirable because he is paid for the whole job and not by the day. This means that no matter how long he takes on a job his salary and that of his crew when working with him will be the same so time is a factor for him maximising profits. Refusal to work as seen in the OSH act is another benefit Randy and his crew does not have. If he or one of his workers is concerned about an unsafe working condition, they do not have the option to call OSHA and request and inspector and refuse to work with pay. Similarly, if any injury is sustained while working Randy or any of his co-workers will not get sick leave with pay. Randy actually sustained an injury where he was cut on this thumb by a grinder and was unable to work for two weeks and this resulted in him not being paid for two weeks.

Seeing as these two businesses do not fall under the OSH act Randy and his crew are responsible for their own safety. They can better do this by making sure all their tools and machinery are maintained and used properly with the necessary protective gear. Dust masks to be worn when working with cement or dusty areas can reduce the risk of contracting respiratory diseases.

Recommendations

Correct use of ladders when climbing (3 points on ladder at all times). Wearing slip resistant footwear on jobsites especially when climbing and walking on galvanize (to avoid slip and fall). Hard hats to be worn when working in areas where objects may fall. Keeping areas where workers are passing clear of objects that could lead to trip and fall. Avoiding working on roofs when galvanize is wet

Barber’s Shop Analysis

A self-employed barber residing in the Rio Claro area was visited and interviewed regarding the conduct of his daily business and his attitude towards his safety and the safety of others.

Throughout the interview it was noted that the person was twenty-seven (27) years old, possesses six (6) O’level subjects from Presentation College, San Fernando, and had been conducting his business on a small scale from an age of sixteen (16) with an average of six (6) hours of operation, until five (5) years ago when he decided to make it a full-time job. Health and safety did not become a priority until this became his full-time job, where it still was not first on his list.

First, a needs assessment was conducted to ascertain what was required to be able to conduct his business on a full-time scale with good capability and comfort as far as was affordable, practicable, and necessary; this refers to tools and other equipment necessary for operation. Secondly, care was given regarding his welfare and the welfare of others within his vicinity and area of operation; a clean environment, comfortable seating for his use as well as his customers, ventilation, and lighting. He then conducted a general risk assessment to the best of his knowledge and understanding which was mainly learned through experience, and came up with suitable, practicable, and more notably affordable solutions that were within his capability.

This was the mentality and culture of this self-employed person regarding his safety and wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of others, at the start of his business and operations even before thinking about registering his business. It was stated by him that his knowledge of his health, safety, and welfare was acquired through experience, suggestions, and recommendations, in lieu with his own morals, values, and respect for himself as well as others.

A dust bin solely for the disposing of hair can be seen (Welfare of others in his workplace.).

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Barbershop: Image 1: Trip hazard, cords are not properly secured

(He actually cleans his station and floor from floor after every person’s hair he cuts.)

Proper, suitable, appropriate signage.

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Barbershop: Image 2: Proper signs for customers

Appropriate, suitable lighting necessary for operation.

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Barbershop: Image 3: Suitable lighting for operations

Clean, organized workstation. PPE (latex gloves) suitable for operation can be seen as well.

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Barbershop Image 4: Using protective gloves while cleaning work space

This then lead to the conclusion that without a board of directors and department of safety, legal guidelines and requirements, or even written safety policies, it is the duty of a person to his own safety, health, and welfare, which is a reflection of his knowledge, education, experience, morals, values, and culture, as well as others around him, coupled with the willingness to improve and learn.

Recommendations

Continuous monitoring of safety hazards that may cause harm to the barber and clients. Ensure electrical wires are properly secured to avoid trip and fire hazards. Ensure proper sanitation of equipment and disposal of hair and other waste. A dusk mask should be worn to prevent the inhalation of fine hair particles. There should be ten minutes interval of seating for every ten hour standing

Recommendations by Risk Assessment for the Health and Safety Board for Self Employed Persons

Based on the risk assessments conducted on these various self-employed persons, the group made some recommendations for consideration by the Health and Safety Board.

  • Have awareness raising programs.
  • Engage in outreach programs (exhibitions, lectures, workshops, promotion materials, advertisements etc.)
  • Consultation programs for all self-employed persons.
  • Safety Officers be assigned by districts to conduct routine checks on self – employed businesses to ensure they are adhering to certain safety precautions.
  • The safety act should be amended with more laws and emphasis towards self-employed persons.
  • A sub unit should be established for the monitoring of the Small and Micro enterprises and the functions can be clearly outlined in a clause in the act.

References

  1. A Guide to Risk Assessment. Version 2. Prod. The Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency of Trinidad and Tobago. August 2 . Accessed October 22, 2016.
  2. “OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT CHAPTER 88:08 Act 1 of 2004 Amended by 3 of 2006.” 88:08.pdf. Accessed October 22, 2016. http://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/laws2/alphabetical_list/lawspdfs/88.08.pdf


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The Web Investigation of Eight Legged Freaks

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Eight Legged Freaks, starring David Arquette and Scarlett Johansson, is a blend of action, comedy, thriller and science fiction. The film offers an exaggerated illustration of the catastrophic events which can occur as a result of overlooking minor health and safety procedures. For many of us, the first time we watched this movie was over ten years ago and, at that time, we were oblivious to the health and safety issues that were present. As current students of Occupational Safety and Health Management, we are now cognizant of health and safety policies, practices and procedures. While watching this movie, we identified various health and safety violations, came up with recommendations to avoid such violations, identified five different groups of hazards and provided suggestions on how to mitigate these hazards and reduce any associated risks.  Now, without further ado, let’s dissect this movie.

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Biohazards being transported.

Brief overview of the movie

The movie is set in a rural mining town in a fictional city called Prosperity, Arizona. At the start of the movie, a truck driver, who seemed tired from working a long shift, tries to avoid hitting a rabbit and swerves his truck sharply, causing a barrel of hazardous substance to fall from his truck and into a nearby lake. The barrels being transported were a product from the company Viroanol Corp, which claims to provide ‘modern chemicals for enhanced living’. The barrel is marked with a red label and the word ‘biohazard’. Joshua, the owner of a spider farm, uses the lake as an extension from his workplace to collect crickets for feeding to the spiders at his farm.

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The biohazards contaminating the lake.

After eating the crickets and being exposed to the hazardous substance, the spiders mutated into enormous ‘eight legged freaks’, broke free of their cages, relocated to the mine tunnels and violently attacked the residents of the town. In the movie, we meet Chris McCormick, played by David Arquette, who is the owner of the gold mine. He is the person in command of the miners and he controls the operations of the mine. Therefore, he can be said to be both an employer and an occupier. Sheriff Samantha Parker and Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Willis both work in law enforcement and can be seen as employees of the Sheriff’s Department of Prosperity Arizona. In the film we also meet Sam’s son, Mike Parker, who was the first to discover the horrific effects of the contaminated lake. We are also introduced to Gladys, the aunt of Chris.

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Breaches of Safety and Health Legislation Identified

The Trinidad and Tobago Occupational Health and Safety Act Chap 88:08 (“the OSH Act”) lays out the duties and responsibilities of various actors in an industrial setting, as well as safety and health  requirements and sanctions for breach of the Act. While watching the movie (with the OSH Act in our hands), we noticed a few safety and health violations. Some were a direct result of the biologically hazardous spill, while others were indirectly related to the spill. We made a note below of these violations to share with you below.

Improper transportation of chemical barrels

Viroanol Corp, the company responsible for the biologically hazardous chemicals which kick-started this entire story failed to properly secure the drums for transportation. The drums were being carried on the bed of a truck without any restraint beside guard rails, and no secondary containers were used to safeguard against any leakage. The drums were also left unsecured. There was a tattered thin nylon rope seen hanging from the truck, which proved to be an insufficient method of securing the drums.

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Proper transportation of barrels of substance using methods including lashing and wrapping. 

Violation(s): Under the OSH Act, the employer has a duty to ensure the safety and absence of risk to the health of employees in transporting substances (Section 6(2)(b)). In addition, the employer must ensure that his business is conducted in such a way as to not expose persons other than employees to risks to their safety or health (section 7(1)). If Viroanol was an employer in Trinidad and Tobago it would have been in breach of the Osh Act. 

Recommendation(s): Viroanol Corp, being the employer could have provided secondary containers and employed proper restraints in order to hold the drums firmly in place during the journey thereby eliminating health and safety risks to its employees and the public.

Failure of employees to take reasonable care

In the opening scene, the truck driver was falling asleep at the steering wheel. He operated the truck while distracted, choosing instead to pay attention to adjusting the radio and sipping coffee (pictured above). His lack of alertness not only put his safety at risk, but also the safety of other drivers, potential pedestrians and the public.

Violation(s): Section 10 of the OSH Act speaks to general duties of employees at work. An employee must ensure that he is not under the influence of an intoxicant to the extent that he endangers his own safety, health and welfare at work or that of any other person (Section 10 (f)). While a cup of coffee may not fall into any of this category, the Osh Act obliges the employee to take reasonable care for the safety and health of himself and other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions (section 10 (a)). It can be seen that the truck driver did not take such requisite reasonable care and therefore would be liable for breach of the OSH Act.

Recommendation(s): Pulling over to a rest stop and taking a break from driving would have reduced the risk of the truck driver being inattentive while driving, an act which potentially endangered his life and endangered the life of others.

Inadequate personal protective equipment

Duty owed by employer to employees: In one scene, the employer of the gold mines, Chris McCormick, briefed his employees on safety precautions, noting that there are high volumes of methane gas within the inner chambers of the mining tunnels and therefore masks should be worn at all times. An OSH Inspector in Trinidad and Tobago then would be pleased to know that such a briefings were being carried out, as this is in-keeping with both best practice and the OSH Act (section 6(2)(c)). However, the briefing and the personal protective equipment provided by the employer to his employees were inadequate and unsuitable because the miners lacked proper safety eye-wear, ear muffs and breathing masks. Instead they wore regular eyeglasses and a makeshift mask made from torn cloth which was tied over their noses and mouths.

Violation(s): This is clearly in breach of section 23(1) which mandates the employers to provide protective equipment to all persons entering an industrial establishment and likely to be exposed to risks that can affect the body.

Recommendation(s): Given the nature of the job, it is unlikely that the risk can be completely eliminated, in keeping with the ‘hierarchy of controls’, substitution might have been a viable option – substituting one or more of the machinery/ tools used. Isolation and engineering might not have been helpful in this area because there would have been difficulties in isolating the gas and there would have been a cost attached to the construction of special equipment. However implementing administrative measures could have helped to reduce risk, for example by setting up a shift system where the mine workers take shifts in completing their tasks. As a last resort, the mine workers should be outfitted with suitable and sufficient personal protective equipment in order to reduce their risk to as low as reasonably practicable. Such equipment include a pair of safety goggles and a breathing mask.

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Duty owed by employer to the public: In another scene where members of the public entered the gold mine with Chris, who is both the employer and occupier of the mine, there was no sign of protective equipment being worn by any person inside in the mine. Both the members of the public and the employer lacked protective eyewear, headgear, clothing and the appropriate breathing masks to prevent them from being affected by the methane gas.

Violation(s): It is the duty of the employer to ensure that persons other than employees are not exposed to safety and health risks (section 7 of the OSH Act). Further, section 9 indicates that an occupier has a general duty to protect the safety and health of the public in the vicinity of his establishment. By leading the public into the mines without any form of protective equipment, Chris acted contrary to the OSH Act.  

Recommendation(s): In such of a scenario, the employer (who here is also the occupier) should have ensured that all persons were fully clothed in personal protective gear, not only to limit the risk to safety and health of those persons but to limit his liability for any loss or injury which could have occurred.

Failure to implement a safe system of work

In another scene of the movie, also set in the mines, we noticed one mine worker using a jackhammer which was pointed to the walls in front of him and ever so often he reached down to grab a fire hose to spray the wall from debris. At one point, the hose stopped spraying and he removed his makeshift mask and started sucking the nozzle of the hose, perhaps thinking something was clogging the hose and sucking on it would clear it. He eventually swallowed a spider which was hiding inside the hose and that was the last we saw of him. This leads us to question, was this worker trained in the cleaning and clearing of this equipment? 

Violation(s)Section 6 of the OSH Act mandates an employer to provide a safe system of work and to ensure that information, instructions, training and supervision is provided as is necessary to ensure the safety and health at work of employees.

Recommendation(s): The employer should have provided the necessary information, instructions, training and supervision to the employee so that employee could have engaged in the proper technique in clearing the blocked hose. This is all a part of the employer’s duty to ensure the safety and health at work of employees, so far as reasonably practicable.

Other Safety and Health Violations

In addition to the health and safety violations that we saw in the movie and were directly provided for in the OSH Act, we identified other health and safety violations. As mentioned above, the legislation sets out a basic framework. However, being safety and health minded persons who want to offer the best safety advice and not just the bare minimum, we wanted to share some additional violations which are not specified by legislation but which were present in the movie and salient to a discussion on safety and health.

Lone workers

In the movie, there were at least two separate workers in the mines who were each left to work alone in the confined space. Another instance of lone worker evident in the movie, was the owner and operator of the spider farm who had no employees. The disadvantage of lone workers was illustrated in a subsequent scene when the spiders attacked him and his eventual demise went unnoticed and unreported for several days. This type of risk can obviously be mitigated by introducing a buddy system, setting workers out in pairs.

Lack of quarantine 

Upon discovery of the toxic substances in the town’s lake, safety measures should have been implemented to ensure that public’s access to the contaminated water is restricted thereby decreasing the public’s risk of exposure to the biological hazard.

Improper procedure in the removal of the barrel from the lake 

Sheriff’s Deputy Pete Willis was seen removing the drum from the lake while using inadequate and unsuitable personal protective equipment. The gloves that he used were not of an approved standard. In fact, they appeared to be a pair of yellow latex gloves, more commonly known as dish-washing gloves. These gloves would have not been designed or approved for use when dealing with biological hazards.  After using these gloves, Deputy Willis proceeded to scratch his head with the contaminated gloves. Deputy Willis should have used biohazard autoclave gloves and should not have touched any part of his body with the contaminated gloves. This little act demonstrates the importance of training and education. If Deputy Willis was educated about safety and health signage, he would have perceived the danger from the outset simply by knowing the meaning of the red label on the drum. Further, it can be seen that such chemical removal processes ought not be carried out by Sheriff’s Deputies but by trained safety and health personnel.

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Hazards Identified

Reece defines hazards as dangerous situations or conditions that can lead to accidents. The more hazards present, the greater the chances of accidents. Hazards can be categorized based on their energy source. For the purposes of this blog, we will identify five (5) main types of hazards spotted throughout the film, namely ergonomic hazards, biological hazards, psychological hazards, physical hazards, and chemical hazards.

Ergonomic Hazards 

In the scene where the miner alternated between the use of the jackhammer and the water hose, we observed that the use of such heavy equipment over an extended period of time and the implementation of such a system of work exposed the miner to an ergonomic hazard. After standing ‘at-eased’ and being jolted by the jackhammer, the mine worker would bend over to collect a fire hose at his feet. He would then spray the chiseled walls of the mine, release the fire hose and return to jackhammer. The constant jolting and bending could cause damage to the mine worker’s spine. One recommendation is for the employer to provide a waistband which would provide support to the mine worker’s waist. Another recommendation is to place the hose above ground level to eliminate the system of bending over to retrieve the fire hose.

Biological Hazards

Clavies® biohazard autoclave gloves gauntlet L 5 in. (13 cm), overall L 13 in. (33 cm)
An example of biohazard autoclave gloves

Apart from the dumping of the biohazard material into the lake, one biological hazard identified was the fluid excreted by the spiders. In the movie, Chris, Mike and Sam touched the dismembered limbs of the spiders and were even covered with the thick green fluid excreted by the spiders. The characters should have used biohazard autoclave gloves, protective eye-wear and also protective body suits when dealing with the spider remains.

Psychological hazards

The residents of the town would have been exposed to a significantly high levels of stress, anxiety and fright based purely on the fear of being killed by these enormous spiders.

Physical Hazards

Noise, slips and trips, fire and electrical hazards are some of the few hazards under the category of physical hazards.

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An example of safety signage

The members of the public in the gold mines were all exposed to physical hazards, from falling debris and dust within the mine to slips and trips on the uneven surface of the ground, but the employer and occupier who provided no protective gear did nothing to mitigate the severity of these hazards. Also, the scene where the mine worker alternated between the jackhammer and fire hose illustrates an exposure to several physical hazards as the worker must have endured temperature extremes, sharp vibrations, sharp jolts about the body and noise.

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Another example of safety signage

Potential trip hazards are another form of physical hazards. In the scene where Mike enters the spider farm in search of Joshua, the confined wooden spider farm has become disorderly and covered in spider webs. There is clearly a trip hazard as the webs play a role in obscuring vision while the various shelves and broken glass could easily cause Mike to trip and fall leading to serious injury. In an effort to mitigate this risk, the area can be cleaned and tidied up, removing all spider webs and other broken items from the walk path.

Chemical hazards and fire

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Examples of common hazard warning signs

Chemical hazards are inherently linked to physical hazards. Makin and Winder identifies that categorisation of hazards are of little or no use because the impact of one hazard may be different from the way it initiated. Collins and Schneid explain that some hazardous chemicals pose physical hazards to workers by triggering fires, others burn the skin or respiratory orifices while others release toxic by-products a result of fires. One chemical hazard which had the impact of a physical hazard was illustrated in the scene of the movie where Gladys entered a mine filled with methane gas holding a lit cigarette. Methane is a colourless, odourless flammable gas. The slightest spark or open flame causes the gas to ignite and this could result in an explosion. At the end of the movie, Gladys herself admits, that smoking is a dangerous habit, saying that it “causes explosions”. At least we know Gladys learned something new about health and safety.

Conclusion

Compliance with safety and health procedures is of vital importance to the employer, employee and public alike. Not only can failure to comply result in an occupier and even an employer being at risk for violations of the OSH Act, but these violations can also have catastrophic results on human lives and the environment.

What can you take away from our web investigation? The importance of learning how to , reduce your chance of legislative breaches, mitigate hazards and make your workplace safe so that you can avoid an encounter with the law or any eight legged freaks!

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References

Collins, Larry, and Thomas, Schneid. Physical hazards of the workplace. Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press

Clavies biohazard autoclave gloves. Digital Image. Sigma-Aldrich. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/aldrich/z408492?lang=en&region=US

Eight Legged Freaks. DVD. Directed by Ellory Elkayem. Los Angeles: California, 2002

Health and Safety Products. Digital Image. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.health-safety-products.co.uk/store/products/caution-falling-debris-sign-non-photoluminescent-rigid-pvc/ 

Makin, Anne-Marie, and Chris Winder. “Managing hazards in the workplace using organisational safety management systems: a safe place, safe person, safe systems approach.” Journal Of Risk Research 12, no. 3-4 (April 1, 2009): 329-343. E-Journals, EBSCOhost (accessed September 30, 2016)

Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act of 2004, Amended by 3 of 2006.

Reece, Charles. Occupational health and safety management : a practical approach. Boca Raton: Lewis Publishers. 2003

Signage and Labels. Digital Image. Biosafety University of Virginia. Accessed October 03, 2016. http://ehs.virginia.edu/biosafety/bio.signage.html

The most common hazard signs in chemical plant. Digital Image. Chemical Plant Safety Blog. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.chemicalplantsafety.net/safety-sign/the-most-common-hazard-signs-in-chemical-plant/

Photos obtained from the scenes of the movie.


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“Gas-ping for Safety at the Gas Station: An OSH Assessment”

 11.png                      Figure 1: National Petroleum gas station, Curepe, Trinidad.

 

As Trinbagonians most of us are guilty of the famous “God is ah Trini” attitude.

Hurricane coming?  “Na man, that eh hittin’ we, God is ah Trini.”

Tsunami coming?  “Na man, that eh hittin’ we, God is ah Trini.”

Food prices going up? All together now!  “Na man, that eh hittin’ we, because why?  God is ah Trini!”

Sadly, this mentality has infiltrated our society and has led us to develop what we as Trinis consider a “doh care attitude” or “laid back attitude” with day to day affairs.

On arrival to the National Petroleum  gas station located at the ever-busy Curepe junction, Trinidad our OSH senses became immediately aroused when we noticed that one of the two service lanes was blocked off by a garbage bin, while only the other was in operation.

We approached a man who was presumably a worker, as we observed him assisting customers in filling their gas tanks.  He was clad in a regular jersey and jeans and not a uniform.

He said, “ Well yea ulyuh could go ahead and take ulyuh pictures and thing, but I ent answering no questions.  Ah could call the manager lady, she now reach.”  We assented.  As the group surveyed the area and took pictures, many areas of concern became apparent on the compound.

Physical Hazards

As the group surveyed the gas station from its front to its rear, it became substantially evident enough to conclude that there were many physical hazards due to negligence by the workers and the company itself.

Firstly, the gas station is poorly sheltered. We visited the gas station on a rainy day and observed that water covered the ground of the entire compound, causing some customers to slip.  See Figure 2 below.                                                      

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Figure 2: Gas station poorly sheltered          Figure 3: Parked motorbike blocking passage

Secondly, in Figure 3 above, we can see a motorbike parked up in the gas station while the driver was engaging in some chit-chat with the workers.  His motorbike is clearly parked in the pathway where vehicles pass to fill their tanks.  This poses a threat to both workers and customers.                

Also, as seen in Figure 4, the hose from the diesel pump lays carelessly in the roadway resulting in a trip hazard for both customers and workers.

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Figure 4: Diesel hose carelessly placed on the left  

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Figure 5: Demonstration of the protruding iron on the right

Moreover, at the back of the gas station there is a protruding length of iron which puts customers and workers at risk (Figure 5).
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Figure 6: Demonstration of the open manhole above.

Right in the heart of the gas station there is a large manhole just waiting for someone to fall into, or a vehicle becoming stuck in (see Figure 6).

Physical hazards are also present in the interaction with the the liquefied petroleum gas or liquid petroleum gas tanks (LPG or LP gas for short).  Typically, customers are asked to retrieve and carry their own LPG tanks to and from their vehicles or other means of transport, which carry an average weight of twenty pounds.  Sometimes though, the workers are asked to aid in the retrieval and carrying processes for customers who are physically unable to do so themselves.  In these two situations, there is the risk of crush and pinch injuries.  If the cylinder happens to slip and fall, prior to even making contact with the ground, it will land on a person’s foot, especially if they have a slower reaction time.  This can, in turn, lead to dismemberment of joints in the foot, usually on the person’s toes.  Consequently, until the technology to aid in the reduction of manual handling of the twenty-pound tanks is created, it is recommended that when having to deal with the LPG tanks you wear closed-toe boots that can eliminate the severe impact in cases where it slips, and additionally wear protective non-slip gloves that can shield your hands from pinches and slips.
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Figure 7: Accident at the site

Lastly, our group witnessed an accident involving a customer driving over a slab of concrete due to the absence of caution tape or other warning signs, prohibiting access to that particular area (Figure 7).  This comes without saying that this poses a threat to the lives of the workers and by extension, the public.

In an informal interview conducted with one of the workers, we asked whether they had any personal protective equipment (PPE) to which the response was simply, “Na we doh have no gloves an’ thing for the attendants.”  This is a serious hazard as gas and diesel fuel can easily leak onto the worker’s hands. For lack of assumption, flammable and combustible materials, such as gasoline, when placed in contact with heat or flame can ignite in less than a second!  For this reason, we suggest that when operating at fuel pumps, be extremely vigilant in ensuring that, in the event gasoline comes into contact with anything other than inside the gas tank, you wait for it to evaporate, or quickly wipe it away.

When asked whether there was any formal entry and exit points to the station the worker replied,  “Most people know to come in from one side and exit from the other, but some ah them does come in from the other side and want gas, too.”  The mere fact that there are neither formal entry and exit signs, nor speed bumps present on the compound pose a threat to workers as well as the public.  There exists the possible effect of collisions on the compound, resulting in damage not only to other vehicles and people but also to the service pumps which can in turn ignite a fire. Open  the link to view an example of a collision at a gas station:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybFanfXaSlU&index=15&list=PLD185CA6C7ACA4E45

Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards refer to workplace conditions that constitute  risks to the musculoskeletal system of a person (The University of Chicago- Environmental Health and Safety n.d.).  During our visit, we identified a few ergonomic hazards that can lead to great bodily injury, not only to the employees at the service station, but also  to the public.  At the gas station, muscular strains can occur due to constant manual handling of the gas pumps, which require squeezing the lever inside the gas nozzle handle to initiate the pumping process.  Furthermore, the employees can experience back strains from repeatedly lifting the LPG tanks.  While we were there, we  observed a customer applying air to her tire. The poor body positioning and posture required to do this can in fact result in back injuries to the customer.  Also, we witnessed another customer kicking a bin that was placed at the center of the driveway. From doing this he could have suffered from a strained ligament or could have slipped causing further damage to not only his leg but back. Progressively, repeated exposure to risk factors such as those aforementioned can lead to traumatic and severe injury and disability.   

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 Figure 8: Customer applying air to her tire with bad posture

Psychological Hazards

According to Oscar Wilde, “ We live in the age of the overworked and under-educated, the age in which people are so industrious they become absolutely stupid”.  

Currently in Trinidad and Tobago, our society is plagued with employees who are constantly overworked on their job site.  This was evidently seen at the NP gas station, where workers endure horrendous working hours with exhausting tasks required of them. Furthermore, the stigma attached to someone working in a gas station as an attendant, or having any other position other than the manager proves to be quite daunting- to say the least.  

Psychological hazards can have a negative impact on workers’ behaviours on the job due to lack of motivation and esteem, leading to low levels of productivity.  Factors such as quality customer service, team cohesion and team building are affected due to employee-absenteeism and lack of participation.  High levels of employee turnover are also experienced.  

In an attempt to reduce employees being overworked and feeling less enthused while on the job, it is important that those at the top, such as managers recognize the stress and pressures felt by employees when they are given too many responsibilities.  Managers must devise ways to bring out the best in employees to motivate them and boost their esteem to ensure a job well done.  This can be as simple as treating employees as more of an asset to the organization by showing appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

Regardless of how tough, strong and resilient you think you are, at the end of the day,  we are all humans, and as such employers should refrain from viewing them as machines. There’s a limit to how much we can push ourselves physically, yet our emotional endurance can be pushed a lot further.  It’s important to know your limits by means of working SMART.  You’re no good to anyone, least of all yourself if you’re not in top mental and physical condition.

Chemical Hazards

Chemical hazards can be defined as substances, mixtures and particles that are used in the workplace that can be a health or physicochemical hazard if not handled or stored correctly (“Safe Work SA”).  We noted a number of chemical hazards during our visit to the NP gas station that put employees, the public and the environment at risk.  

Direct contact with toxic chemical emissions, such as gasoline and diesel,  in cases where they are either inhaled through the nose or absorbed by the skin are accountable for threats to human health, such as critical respiratory issues and even death.

What is commonly known as the “rainbow effect” could be seen on the ground of the gas station’s compound post the downpour (Figure 9).  This in fact is due to the mixing of the oil/gas spills on the ground combining with the water to form a film on the surface of the water. As beautiful as these “rainbows” may appear, in actuality these spills are flammable and can trigger a fire at any time, causing damage not only to the physical components of the station, but also to surrounding infrastructure and injury and loss of human life.   

In addition to fires, further harm can be experienced since the gas pumps are without shelter and are exposed to the elements, like wind, dust and (rain) water.  If water enters the pumps and mixes with the fuel, substances such as benzene (C6H6), due to its solubility in water, may be removed by rain to contaminate surface waters and soil, even causing extensive adverse health effects such as cancer and aplastic anaemia.

To read more interesting facts about benzene visit: http://www.who.int/ipcs/features/benzene.pdf

In an attempt to reduce these risks as low as reasonably practical (ALARP), the service station should have adequate shelter and protection from the elements, a zero-tolerance policy for smoking on the premises should be implemented, as well as employees and management should be educated on the effects of certain substances.

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     Figure 9: The “Rainbow Effect” due to gas leaks/spills from pumps

Additionally, although the hoses from the fuel dispensers are classified as  physical hazards, they can simultaneously be classed as a form of chemical hazard that give rise to life-threatening occurrences.  We observed that the hoses were laying negligently on the path of the service lane where vehicles were passing.  Failure to secure the hoses properly can encourage vehicles to roll over them and unknowingly burst/damage the pipes causing gasoline and diesel to emerge from them which can lead to fires and/or explosions due to the flammable nature of these substances.

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Figure 10: Hose being left carelessly on the ground

Fire Hazard

Fire hazards are conditions that favour fire development or growth. Three elements are required to start and sustain fire:

  1.   Oxygen
  2.   Fuel
  3.   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.  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.

After performing a risk assessment at the NP gas station, Curepe there were several fire hazards identified. These comprised:

1)      Smoking (cigarettes) (Figure 11)

2)      Improper safeguarding of extension cords (Figure 12)

An interview with a worker revealed that many people mistakenly come into the gas station smoking, despite “No Smoking” signs are displayed, resulting in her having to remind them that the gas station is a no smoking zone.  This simple act of negligence can lead to a fire at the station.  

Also, in conducting our assessment, we noticed that there was improper placement of an extension cord, which was looped around a bar on the ceiling, containing a string of lights (Figure 12) .  This can induce an overloaded circuit, cause the cord itself to become damaged and lead to overheating and act as a possible source of electrical shock and electrical fire.  The main resolution for this issue regarding the extension cord is that it should not be substituted for permanent wiring in the first place.  

To learn more about safety tips with reference to extension cords you can visit: http://www.esfi.org/resource/extension-cord-safety-tips-478

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Figure 11: A customer smoking on the gas station’s premises which is strictly prohibited

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Figure 12: Improper safeguarding of extension cords

Biological Hazards

During our evaluation at the site, two biological hazards were obvious:

  1. Improper urinals and drainage system:

Both the disposal of the waste deposited in them and the gasoline spillage on the ground run directly into the drains (Figure 13 and Figure 14 below).  Although a small quantity of gasoline was spilled, during the rainy weather, with poor drainage, the now contaminated water runs directly into waterways.

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Figure 13: Urinal contents flowing into the drains     Figure 14: Gas spills flowing into drains

2)  Breakdown of gasoline and its health hazards:

Gasoline, a transparent, liquid derived from petroleum contains two main chemicals: benzene (C6H6) and other known carcinogens.  Carcinogens do not directly affect DNA, but lead to cancer in other ways.  For example, they may cause cells to divide at a faster than normal rate, which could increase the chances of changes to DNA.   Note that not all carcinogens result in cancer.   Many factors have to be taken into consideration- length and intensity of the exposure.

When humans come into contact with both carcinogens and benzene they experience a range of acute and long-term health effects and diseases, including cancer, death if consumed  and aplastic anemia.

With regards to the improper drainage of the urinal directly into the waterway, the risk of getting a life threatening disease is not as high as the case above.  However, health risks do arise when human waste contaminates waterways.  Humans don’t necessarily get direct contamination but the water bodies that farmers use to water plants do, which in turn is consumed by humans and animals.  This is predominantly when humans come into contact with the factors that cause health risks.

Helpful Links:

Service Station Safety Tips:

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/property-type-and-vehicles/vehicles/service-station-safety/service-station-safety-tips

Do’s and Don’ts at the Pump: A Gas Station Safety Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5K-HjUPsKA&spfreload=10   

Conclusion

All things considered, this report introduced us to many health and safety violations which can be applied to different situations in our day to day lives.  This blog highlighted the areas of physical, ergonomic, psychological, chemical and biological hazards and their detrimental effects. We urge you, readers of this blog, to be alert and pay attention to hazards of your surroundings.  Greater level of awareness to such hazards is necessary to facilitate improvements and to reduce these risks ALARP so that we can all live our healthiest and safest lives. No job is so important and no service is so urgent that we cannot take the time to perform our work safely.

Works Cited

Eduardodiashealth. “Dos and Don’ts at The Pump. Gas Station Safety Video.” YouTube.       YouTube, 2008. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

“Exposure to Benzene: A Major Public Health Concern.” N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

Wluk. “Gas Station Accident.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 June 2010. Web. 30 Sept. 2016.

“Known and Probable Human Carcinogens.” Known and Probable Human Carcinogens.

“Service Station Safety.” NFPA –. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

“The Dangers of Overwork Are Hard to Ignore.” The Dangers of Overwork Are Hard to Ignore. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

“The University of Chicago.” Environmental Health and Safety at the University of Chicago. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.