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“Can You Cheat Death?” – An Examination of the OHS hazards in the 2000 horror movie “Final Destination”.

dfa3e1b8437a6e94fdf6c2343c01123a(Final Destination, 2000)

 

Introduction

It is oftentimes perceived that movies in the horror genre, immensely exaggerate the unfortunate circumstances under which a person can meet their end.  But is it just the overactive imagination of filmmakers? Most times we dismiss the doomsday movies with the common phrase “It’s just a movie, that can never happen”.  However, I ask you now to revisit that statement with these questions, how likely are these situations to occur in real life? And are you equipped to deal with them?

Voltaire, French dramatist, poet and philosopher, born in 1694 said: “The danger which is least expected soonest comes to us.” This could not be truer regarding safety. Therefore, we emphasize preparation versus the potential saving grace of a premonition, like the movie we will later examine.

The movie we selected for our analysis is a 2000 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wong called Final Destination. The movie begins with Alex and a group of high school students take a flight to Paris for a French class trip. Before they set off, Alex has a premonition of the plane bursting into flames minutes after take off. He tells everyone to get off the ill-fated aircraft and 7 people including Alex, are forced to disembark the plane. Moments later in the departure lounge, the students witness the plane explode before their very eyes. He and the other survivors have briefly cheated death. However, as the movie progresses each one of the aeroplane survivors is gruesomely killed by a series of tragic accidents.

These accidents mirror a plethora of hazards that actually exist in real life.  Hence, it was of utmost importance that we use this blog as a means of debunking the idea that “that can never happen”. We hope to achieve this feat by evaluating these various hazards depicted in the movie “Final Destination”, which serves to highlight how true to life some of these risks can be. 

 

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Source: Image Retrieved from URL(https://www.redstate.com/).

Please be guided that some of the images depicted in the post are graphic in nature. 


Risk Rating:

Severity scale[ 1 -Minor -5 Severe]

Likelihood scale[ 1 -Unlikely -5 Hihglylikely]

Physical Hazards


1. SLIP AND FALL HAZARD IN BATHROOM

An incident occurred in the movie that we have chosen, where one of the seven people who was forced to disembark the plane, slipped at his home in his bathroom, due to leakage in the water supply valve, which caused him to fall into a bathtub and resulted in his death. The fact that the bathroom was tiled, was the main cause of his slippage due to the liquid substance on the floor. This is known as a physical hazard as slipping and falling are two factors of such.

This hazard could have affected any of his family members, as well as visitors. The risk rating of this hazard is three likelihood and one severity since the chances of it occurring is moderate but extreme at the same time. Since this risk is high it needs to be fixed within a few days in order to prevent another hazard from affecting someone else.

To address this risk, the water supply valve can simply be replaced with a new one that does not cause any water to leak on the floor preventing any further problems. Also, having a bathtub handle could have mitigated the risk of him falling and also aid in preventing young children or other family members from drowning in the event that they slipped in a tub that was filled.  Being careful and taking the necessary precautions in your environment is also important in any surrounding, in order to ensure your safety.

 

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Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

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Figure 1 Leakage of water supply valve:

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

Did you know? 

Someone drowns in a tub nearly every day in America. According to Seattlepi.com, An American drowns nearly every day in a bathtub, hot tub or spa, and the deaths occur disproportionately in Western states. (Morea, 2018).


2. TRIP AND FALL HAZARD ON PLANE

It is oftentimes said that planes are the safest mode of transport. However, we all know that planes are not free from the potential threat of danger. The image in Figure 2, showcases a space between the plane and the walking ramp where you can visibly see ground support equipment driving below, this is observed by Alex on boarding the plane. Why is this a problem? This space though very small can pose trip and fall hazards for anyone boarding the plane. This risk has a likelihood of two and a rating of three since it not very severe. It also can cause items to fall from passengers husting to board, which can drop down to the take-off area of the plane. In order to mitigate this risk, the ramp should be re-engineered or repositioned to ensure that space is as small as possible. This alleviates the changes of objects falling through and lessens the chances of passengers slipping and falling in the space. 

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Figure 2

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

3. PHYSICAL HAZARD ON PLANE

Additionally Figure 3 indicates another faulty plane mechanism observed when Alex takes his seat. He attempts to secure the tray table, which is always a requirement of passengers on takeoff but fails to do so since the locking mechanism came apart in his hand. This is requested of passengers because “It’s actually an FAA regulation that all tray tables must be moved to the upright position before movement on the tarmac,” Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s corporate communications manager. (Lieberman, 2018). This is to ensure that during takeoff and landing the tray tables do not block passengers from evacuating in the event of an emergency.

If a speedy exit is required, you don’t want to be impeded by a barrier of tray tables. Hence, this faulty tray table should be fixed in order to comply with safety practices and avoid legal ramifications. This risk has a likelihood of three and a rating of three since it not very severe. However, the appropriate fix should occur with immediate effect in order to avoid a future casualty. 

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Figure 3

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

 

4. FALL HAZARD ON PLANE

Frequent flyers should be familiar with the announcement during the flight that overhead luggage might have shifted and passengers should be careful when opening the compartments. This can pose fall hazards for any passenger. Hence, this risk has a likelihood of three and a rating of three. In order for the risk to be mitigated, passengers should always proceed with caution when opening these overhead compartments and should avoid leaving their seat while others are removing their luggage. 


Biological Hazard

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Figure 4: No PPE Used

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

Figure 4 shows a syringe being pulled out of a dead body by a mortician who uses his bare hands to perform the exercise. This can allow him to get in contact with diseases from the dead body which is known as a biological hazard.

Any person who is in his position must always wear gloves as well as other safety gear necessary to prevent them from getting in contact with biological hazards. The risk rating of this hazard is three likelihood and two severity since it is moderate.

According to the OSH Act under safety, workers must always wear protective clothing and devices (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], 2004). To address this risk from becoming a hazard, one should be well organised for the job procedure to be carried out. To mitigate this risk, it should be required and enforced by the supervisors that all workers for this type of position must wear the appropriate gears at all times in the workplace.

 


 

Electrical hazard


One of the individuals that survived the plane explosion is unaware that her teacup filled with vodka is broken and dripping. The alcohol substance leaked all over the floor and on the outside of her computer monitor which seeped inside the wired compartment, leading to an electrical malfunction within the system and causing it to explode.

The individual was a victim of the explosion in which particles of the computer from the outburst punctured her body. When the computer exploded the wires from the computer were no longer grounded. The exposed live wires posed a great threat because it increased the chance of an electrical fire.

The alcohol substance in contact with the electricity caused the explosion which is considered as another electrical hazard. This has a high-risk rating of five due to its severity since it could cause major damage and even death. In order to prevent this hazard, keep flammable materials away from electrical equipment and outlets especially highly flammable solutions and also double check your drinkware particularly when moving around.

Additionally, be aware of certain types of equipment if they blow a fuse, trip a circuit, smoke or spark when being used and unplug it immediately. Lastly, use surge protectors which would help regulate the flow of electricity to appliances this can reduce the chance of an electrical fire.

The following images represent the sequence of events the lead to the incident. 

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Source: Images from the movie (Final Destination, 2000)


Fire hazard

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Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000)

In this scene, the individual is damaged and the alcoholic substance which leaked on the floor ignites from the exposed live wire. The fire then spreads to the kitchen where an open bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter comes in contact with the fire and it exploded damaging the individual even more.

The fire continues to spread through the house while she is lying helplessly on the ground. This fire has a very high-risk factor because as it spreads rapidly it is exposed to liquid petroleum gas in the kitchen that eventually explodes. The risk rating is clearly a five because of the severity of the situation.

Anyone could have been a victim of such a fire or explosion and it can be detrimental. The bottle of alcohol needed to be properly covered and stored in a safe place. Flammable items and solutions should be kept far away from cooking stoves. This hazard could have been further avoided by installing fire extinguishers and smoke alarms which can alert someone nearby of the situation. The individual can then notify the fire service to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. Finally, one must be aware of their settings and have a proper evacuation plan always keeping the escape pathway clear.


Chemical Hazard 

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Figure 5

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

The location depicted in Figure 5 is the garage of Clear Rivers, the fictional character of the Final Destination Movie. In this scene, there are numerous bottles and boxes and a vast number of other objects lying around in the midst of cluttered space. That doesn’t at all sound threatening right? we all have things lying around in our garages. Wrong! This poses the risk of a chemical hazard, since, a cluttered space creates the opportunity for chemicals to be misplaced, expired and forgotten. This is problematic as chemicals can be dangerous to humans and chemical clutter can pose severe risks. Chemical clutter poses the risk of eroding through the material in the garage. If not sealed, they can emit harmful fumes which can be harmful to your health. 

Another problem which can arise, are the risks associated with combustible chemicals. Most common garage items can fuel flames, paint thinner, pesticide and gasoline are only of examples the many chemicals of the combustible variety we often have lying around. The likelihood of this type of risk is five as it is highly likely and a rating of four since it can have severe consequences.

To mitigate this risk, it is essential that we first, identify the combustibles and then organize them. It is suggested that these items are properly stored in their original containers or a safety container made to hold the product. Next label these containers so you would remember what is in them. Then, dispose of those you don’t need properly. Finally, it is advised that you should have a Class B/C extinguisher that will work on grease, gasoline, oil and other flammable liquids. 

Did you know? 

Between 2006 and 2016, there were 7,659 hospital discharges attributed to hazardous substances exposure in New Zealand – an average of 696 per year. In 2016, there were 689 hazardous substances-related hospital discharges. (Health effects of hazardous substances, 2018).


 

Violence Hazard 

 

Risks relating to violence on planes are not unheard of.  People in their everyday lives may be frustrated by the lengthy and sometimes mentally taxing process through airport security and this leaves them irritable onboard. Other passengers might have had different intentions for the flight and the different circumstances surrounding the sate of their mood. Hence, tensions can sometimes be very high. The likelihood of this type of risk is five as it is highly likely and a rating of four since it can have severe consequences.

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Figure 6

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

In this scene, we can see a fight occurring on the plane (Figure 6).  Alex and his friends and engaged in a full out fist fight while the flight crew desperately attempts to contain the situation. Mitigating violence is often difficult because it is completely circumstantial. However, passengers should take due care to find coping mechanisms to handle anger and stress during their flight. The flight crew should also ensure that the environment for passengers is safe and risks are as low as reasonably practicable.

Did you know? 

Airlines reported 10,854 incidents during 2015, up from 9,316 in 2014 – or one for every 1,205 flights. By comparison, there were 5,416 in 1997 and just 1,132 in 1994. Physical aggression towards staff members or fellow passengers, or damage to the aircraft, was reported in 11 per cent of cases. (Smith, 2016).


Stress Hazard 

Stress is inevitable, we experience it in our everyday lives whether it is caused by social interactions with others or internal issues that we face about ourselves. Though stress is not a disease or injury, it can very well lead to mental and physical health issues. This can be seen in the degradation of the character Alex.

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Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

He experiences a series of traumatic events, as the unfortunate curse of predicting the death of his friends comes at the cost of damaging his mental health. The police constantly bring him in for questioning, as they believe that he has something to do with the death of his friends. This is because he happens to coincidentally be in the same place when the victim is found. The officers do not believe his claims of having apparent “psychic abilities”. Hence, he is instead chased and harassed by the officers in their attempt to solve the mystery of who is behind the string of crimes committed. This causes Alex immense stress and frustration. 

The stress hazard in this scene could be alleviated by ensuring that the police engaging in the duties do so in a more empathetic manner. Although solving the crime is of utmost importance, drilling a student who has endured some much with countless questions is legal but can be considered unethical. Alex, on the other hand, should seek help and find ways to manage the stressful time he is enduring. Stress can be alleviated in a number of ways, some can include counselling, mentorship and exercise. 


Psychological Hazard 

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 Figure 9

Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

Here in figure 9 one of the main characters witnesses his friend’s decapitation. It is easy to presume that if a person was to witness this, especially after the previous scene where watches his teacher died right in front of him, this would have some type of effect on any individual psychologically.

Any person would worry about if the next step they take would be the last. It can also strike fear into their minds and leave them in a hopeless state of extreme paranoia. Witnessing that kind of graphic death and much worse, watching everyone that survived slowly die one by one can turn you into an emotional wreck. This is a psychological hazard that has many underlying factors. No person could go through this amount of stress and survive it without seeking help.

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Source: Image from the movie (Final Destination, 2000).

Even in cases with officers of the law who may kill an offender or witness a murder, it is recommended that they go see a psychiatrist. A study ” to examine the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder and possible risk factors of PTSD in 320 Danish high school students (mean age 18 years) 7 months after witnessing a young man killing his former girlfriend in front of a large audience,” using a method of “Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ), the Crisis Support Scale (CSS), and the Trauma Symptom Checklist,” they found that “Prevalence of PTSD 7 months after the incident was 9.5%. Furthermore, 25% had PTSD at a subclinical level”.Knowing the deceased girl intimately, the feeling of fear, helplessness and horror from witnessing the killing; plus lack of expressive ability about these events; feeling let down by others; negative affectivity resulting from PTSD;  predicted 78% of the variance of the HTQ total scores.” (Psychotraumatol, 2013).

Hence, psychological hazards are no joking matter as they can pose lifelong effects to persons. Therefore, seeking help and knowing when to seek help for others is key in order to evade these types of problems. 


Conclusion 

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Source: Final Destination GIF Retrieved from URL(https://giphy.com).

The images and the facts listed in this post were not meant to scare you into hiding due to fear of the unknown. They were meant to sober up everyone reading this blog, from the fog that exists which says that movie accidents are not real. Yes, some of them are certainly just crafty delusions by expert movie makers but many of them can be very real. They can very well affect you or someone you care about. Therefore we hope that in evaluating this movie, this information was both insightful and impactful. Though we may not have given you the secret on how to “Cheat Death”. We are certain that some of these tips might very well save your life someday.    


References: 

Elklit, Ask, and Sessel Kurdahl. The Psychological Reactions after Witnessing a Killing in Public in a Danish High School. Article. January 9, 2013.

Fernandez-Morea, Alejandra, and Scripts. “Someone Drowns in a Tub Nearly Every Day in America.” Seattlepi.com. February 26, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Someone-drowns-in-a-tub-nearly-every-day-in-1201018.php.

FINAL DESTINATION GIF. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://giphy.com/gifs/final-destination-alex-browning-1-1CzCzZHkcZqco.

“Health Effects of Hazardous Substances.” Environmental Health Indicators. Accessed October 17, 2018. http://www.ehinz.ac.nz/indicators/hazardous-substances/health-effects-of-hazardous-substances/.

Jeremy Anderberg “A Complete Guide to Home Fire Prevention and Safety” November 7, 2013. https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/a-complete-guide-to-home-fire-prevention-and-safety/
Rainbow international restoration “7 Ways to Prevent Electrical Fires” https://rainbowintl.com/blog/7-ways-to-prevent-electrical-fires

Taylor, Chad. “4 Kinds of Clutter That Are Harmful in Your Garage.” Arizona Garage Doors. April 17, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.arizonagaragedoors.com/4-kinds-of-clutter-that-are-harmful-in-your-garage/.

 The Government of T&T. The OSH Act of T&T (2004) as Amended (2006). (2004). Accessed October 17, 2018. http://rgd.legalaffairs.gov.tt/Laws2/Alphabetical_List/lawspdfs/88.08.pdf

“The Real Reason You Have to Stow Your Tray Table Before Takeoff and Landing.” Travel Leisure. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/why-tray-tables-must-go-up-takeoff-landing.

Warning Graphic Content. In Oklahoma Releases Shocking Video Of RB Joe Mixon. Warning: Graphic Content. December 2016. Accessed October 18, 2018. https://www.redstate.com/mickeywhite2/2016/12/16/oklahoma-releases-shocking-video-rb-joe-mixon.-warning-graphic-content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 Hazards of an Auto Garage’s clutter.

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

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

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

TRIP AND FALL HAZARDS

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

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Gif 1 demonstrating member tripping on engine hoist

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

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

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Engine Hoist. Source: Image captured from mobile device

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

SLIP AND FALL HAZARDS

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

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

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

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

CRUSH HAZARDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIRE HAZARDS

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

 Class B Fires

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

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No Smoking Sign. Source: Image captured from mobile device

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Images captured from mobile device

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

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Image showing how to use a fire extinguisher

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

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

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

CHEMICAL HAZARDS

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

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

Source: Images captured from mobile device

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

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

Source: Images captured from mobile device

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

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

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

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

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

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Workers checking vehicle. Source: Image captured from mobile device

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

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

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

When lifting heavy objects:

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

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

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

Source: Images captured from mobile device

Solutions:

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

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

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

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

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

Solutions: 

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

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

Solutions:

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

 

HANDLING THE RISKS: 

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

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: Images captured from mobile device

References



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For Colored Girls: Tyler Perry

 

 

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

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

ERGONOMIC AND PHYSICAL HAZARDS

The beginning ballet segment showcased certain 

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Fig 1

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

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

This is referred to as the fire triangle.

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

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

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

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

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

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Fig 4: Shows the dangerous stairs in the apartment building

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

 BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL HAZARDS

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

 

 

 

 

 


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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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“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.


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Risk Reduction Regime analysis on OSH issues in Disney’s production of Zootopia.

zootopia-image-1

Disney: Image 1

Zootopia was the movie chosen, that is children animated and a film that is primarily based in the place of same name where predators and preys all live together. The analysis is done on a compilation of everyday risks and hazards that exist and apply within the constructs and job scope of a police officer, of which the movie is based on. Judy Hopps (the main character) defied the odds for this achievement by making it through police training and became the first rabbit officer. On the first day on the job she was however given parking ticket duties (meter maid) . The opportunity to finally pursue a case to find a missing otter came after she chased and caught a thief. Judy, though faced with many obstacles was able to solve the case and find the missing animals.  There were also hazards present to the public, but the majority of the risks and hazards found throughout the movie whether to employees or to the public were not fatal but were of a serious nature. Within all of the hazards found, most had some form of safety measure or protection present but were either insufficient or unsuitable, whereas some of the risks and hazards had none at all. The analysis of the movie looks beyond the cute, humor and life lessons and highlights where there are OSH issues. Enjoy this journey with Risk Reduction Regime as we take the reader of this blog through the movie Zootopia highlighting the safety issues found.

Identified were five of the hazards in the film. Continue reading