OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


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

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

Hope you enjoy the ride with us 🙂

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

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

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

RISK ASSESSMENT

  • Physical Hazards

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

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Image 1 illustrates physical hazards in the footpath for workers



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

 

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

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

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

  • Biological Hazards

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

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

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

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

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Image 5 illustrates a sanitizer dispenser 

 

 

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

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  • Chemicals Hazards

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

  • Ergonomic Hazards

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Image 9 depicts seating for indoor workers

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

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

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Image 10 depicts a spacious indoor work area

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Image 11  depicts insufficient seating for construction workers

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

  • Psychological Hazards

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

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

The OSH Act

  • Safety

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

  • Health

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

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

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Image 15  depicts a worker wearing an improper respirator mask

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

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

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Image 16  depicts a sledgehammer that contributed to noise

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

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

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

At first glance the air conditioning system seen in Image 17 looks like a well-functioning system but it was said by the employees inside the building that it was prone to occasional break downs. Thus, employers did adhere to some extent the regulations stipulated in the Act under Section 36 which states ‘Every occupier of an industrial establishment that is not ventilated by a functioning air-conditioning system shall secure and maintain therein adequate and suitable ventilation by the circulation of fresh air.’

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

  • Welfare

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

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

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

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

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

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Image 20 depicts a worker eating on the site

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

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

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

RECOMMENDATIONS

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

 

  • Fire

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

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

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Image 23 portrays the main emergency exit in the building

 

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

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

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RECOMMENDATIONS

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Accident Free 🙂

CITATIONS

  • OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 2004 AS AMENDED 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 


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SEA ” 👀 ” ALL HAZARDS

A Blog post by color hair hazards on the existing hazards in the featured film Captain 👮 Phillip……

 

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Captain Phillips the emotionally charged story of Somali pirates taking an American sea captain hostage, while concurrently exposing the underlying economic divide that sets the event in motion. The story begins in Vermont, where Captain Phillips leaves his family to sail the Maersk Alabama with cargo mainly food aid halfway around the world to Africa.  At the same time in Somalia,  a former coastal fisherman, Muse aims to overtake one of the high-value ships that passes through the nearby coast every day. At the heart of the confrontation between Phillips and the desperate Somali pirates who take him hostage, reveal the many hazardous conditions that the men and their crew are faced with.  The possibility of causing injury to themselves, the ship, loss of cargo and not reaching the planned destination is inevitable. Ignorant of the many potential hazards in the Somali basin, Captain Phillips, risk assessment was poor, having only one contingency plan in place to curb the risk, much more could have been done to prevent this situation if a proper risk assessment was implemented. A trip that had few initial ergonomic and chemical hazards is now suddenly faced with biological, psychological and physical hazards  that violates the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) 2004 as amended in 2006.

Now lets identify the hazards found in the show…..

 

Biological Hazards

A Biological hazard as defined by  the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management is the  “processes of organic origin or those conveyed by biological vectors, including exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms, toxins and bio-active substances, which may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation.”Simply speaking a biological hazard acts via agents such as plant, birds, humans, bacteria, insects and viruses. Within the movie Captain Phillips each interaction between the Somali pirates and the American crew could be interpreted as a possible biological hazard.

The poor hygienic practices possessed by the Somali pirates could be observed through the entirety of the show. These individuals were subjected to moist, humid conditions while continuously wearing the same articles of clothing. Unclean clothes could harbour microorganisms which could lead to skin infections, mold on clothing and in the case of one of the pirates chain smoking, an unpleasant body odor.

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Image 1 shows the depicts the hygienic conditions of the pirates.

While on the life boat, Captain Phillips requested some water from the Somali pirates; which he then received. However, this communal water could facilitate the transfer of various pathogens between individuals. It was also observed that during the selection process Muse chose a crew member from another village. Each individual is exposed to different types of bacteria within his/her home or environment, therefore individuals in another contextual environment may not share the same resistance to said bacteria. The sharing this water could have led to the spread of the common cold, hepatitis A, B or C and Tuberculosis. Similar to the spread of the Yellow Fever virus, to the indigenous from the Europeans, Captain Phillips could have also contaminated the water source during consumption. Limited border control and protection lead to the spread of potentially dangerous diseases by both parties

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Image 2 shows possible spread of blood borne diseases to Captain Phillips.

The spread of blood borne diseases could be seen as a large biological hazard. The assassination attempt of the Somali pirates lead to Captain Phillips being covered in the splatters of Somali blood.  Accidentally swallowing this blood along with it having any contact with an open wounds or sores, could have led to the transfer of blood borne diseases such as, Zika, H.I.V, Hepatitis B and viral hemorrhagic fevers.  The process of cleaning the possibly infected foot injury of one of the youngest pirate without proper safety wear such as gloves could have also resulted in the transfer of such diseases.

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Image 4 shows the means of ventilation on the lifeboat.

Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures' "Captain Phillips."

Image 5 shows Captain Phillips showing Muse around the ship a requested.

Psychological Hazards

The movie Captain Phillips is the translation of a true re-enactment of the hijacking of the 2009 Somali hijacking of the American cargo ship, Maersk Alabama. Critics and film analyst, tend to pay close attention to the psychological trauma faced by Captain Phillips and his crew members. However, with critical analysis, it is evident that all groups found in the film do indeed experience some form of psychological trauma as a result of varying psychological hazards (based on the outline of the Operational health and safety act of 2004 as amended 2006) which may have already existed or come about due to actions of other groups as the case may be.

Firstly, however, the term psychological hazard must be defined. A psychological hazard according to www.physiotherapyalberta.com, is any hazard /dangerous element 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 as a result of health and safety issues. The main causes of psychological hazards are stress, uncertainty in the workplace, a lack of control and fear.

The film, Captain Phillip, whilst containing a host of hazards in general, is dominated with the element of psychological hazards. The movie in essence is a drama by genre. Therefore, a lot of the dramatic experiences, given the setting of ‘the workplace’, are as a result of existing psychological hazards. The (3) main groups we shall consider are:

  1. Captain Phillips and his crew of sea officials. (other certified co captains, the engine room engineer)
  2. Musa and his crew members.
  3. The other 20 ship crew members

Captain Phillips and his crew of sea officials

  • Before Captain Phillips even sets foot on the ship, there is an early scene of him paying very close attention to the details of the job. This scene depicts Captain Phillips a bit reluctant in his body language to willingly take on the job. This early state of psychological interference, can be deemed a hazard in itself, as it can result in an individual experiencing an element of mental stress throughout the course of the job.

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Image  8 depicts the geographical location if the attack.

  • 2 boats approach Captain’s vessel. An early psychological hazard which Captain Phillip and his staff are exposed to were the 2 fisherman boats speedily approaching their ship on day one at sea, whilst they were conducting an emergency routine. The 2 boats speedily approach the ship and even turn on the same course as the vessel when the captain steers the ship 5 degrees leftward. A major reason why this event was a source of psychological hazard, is because the captain’s plea for assistance from the navy was initially ignored. His analysis of the situation is dismissed as simply fishermen vessels. This may have led to the Captain losing some trust in the navy a bit and as such could have left him with a high level of fear of a return of the pirates. In this case what could’ve been done better, is that the Navy personnel should’ve taken his outcry seriously the first time and sent assistance immediately rather than later.
  • Return of one of the boats. The following day, one of the fisherman boats returns. However on this occasion crew members aren’t on spot to conduct procedures and therefore are left simply to go rush into hiding. Another psychological hazard on said day is the realization or reinforcement of the mere fact that the crew was entirely unarmed and unprepared to deal with invaders carrying weapons. This is evident as Captain Phillips and his sea team are shot at by the rebels and his only source of retaliation is via the use of a flare and hoses in an attempt to sink the boat of the attackers. In this case they should’ve had weapons which they may have been able to utilize if the situation arose. (P.P.E)

Columbia Pictures' "Capt. Phillips," starring Tom Hanks.

Image 9 shows the contingency plan of the crew to sink the small boat in aims of  preventing the pirates from coming aboard the vessel

  • One of the crew members is threatened at gunpoint. This could’ve easily led to fair and immense trauma.

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Image 10 shows the physiological assault on the crew members.

  • The rebels come aboard and Captain Phillip loses control of the vessel. (Lack of control) This would’ve been a major psychological hazard in Captain Phillip’s zeal to persist. His utmost task to ensure safety of all merchandise being transported as well as the safety of his staff had become compromised.

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Image 11 shows the Somali pirates entering the navigation room of the ship.

  • Captain Musa announces he is going to search the ship. The new captain of the ship, Captain Musa, lets it be known that he is prepared to search the entire ship for the crew members. This would’ve been a source of psychological trauma for the other crew members as they may have been eternally concerned about the prospect of them being found and held captive with the other members of the team.

 

  • Captain Phillips is taken hostage aboard the emergency vessel. Captain Phillip finally loses any control when he is stripped entirely of his role of authority and in turn made to play the role of captive. He would’ve also been extremely fearful for his life at this point. At this point if I were Captain Phillip, I would really want to go home. What can I say 1 psychological hazard too many can really dampen the ambitions of even the most joyful of us. >_<

Faysal Ahmed, left, and Tom Hanks star in Columbia Pictures' "Captain Phillips."

Image 12 show Captain Phillips boarding the lifeboat. 

  • Captain Phillip’s entire experience was a psychological hazard. At the beginning of the movie, it is clearly evident that Captain Phillip is by no means ambitious or passionate about going to Somalia to work. It is clear he senses the danger and was aware of the possibility of being hijacked. Hence, for a person who did not really have any great desire to be there too much, to have the worst experience of all the crew members. Threatened at gunpoint, had his duties stripped by pirates, had the safety of his men compromised, hit with the gun of the pirates, and now finally to witness the brutal murder of 4 men. These all pose a major hamper on his mental and emotional future. In other words, his entire experience at sea on this occasion, is in itself a psychological hazard to his future at sea, and as such may have made him stronger or as in other cases caused him to leave his job in fear of losing his life. (Or in local dialect, caused him to ‘Fire the wuk”)

 

Musa and his Crew

  • The ‘Mother ship’ left them. Throughout the movie Musa and his crew attempted to gain some form of communication with the team of ‘elders’ or other pirates they were working for. This never came to pass and essence would’ve left Musa feeling a sense of abandonment. (In particular from those he trusted and depended on)
  • Musa and his team were physically and mentally dejected. It’s almost to the climax of the movie at this point and Musa and his men are beginning to realize their choice to take Captain Phillip may have been a risky one. They also begin to realize that their elders and other pirates they worked with were not going to come back to their rescue nor were they attempting to communicate with them. Hence, they now decide to attempt to play into the hands of the Navy. How do they play into the hands of the Navy? Well they realize they might have had the shorter end of the stick as taking a man hostage made them terrorist, and the U.S Navy does not negotiate with terrorist. This meant that their plans had now been foiled and they had no control of their destiny. Their next bet therefore was to accept the offer of the Navy to negotiate on the terms of Musa going aboard the navy ship.
  • Musa’s men are assassinated. Making his decision based on fear and opting to go aboard the U.S Navy ship in a supposed controlled environment. Musa isn’t aware that he has been tricked and as a result the US Navy is able to assassinate his men. This plunges him into deep sadness. The psychological hazard of him going aboard the U.S ship was acutely evident. Such action simply meant that he was now not in control of the entire situation which meant his own safety and the safety of his men was at stake.

 


Ergonomic hazards

According to the University of Chicago Environmental Health and Safety Ergonomic hazard is any workplace condition that pose a threat to musculoskeletal system of an employee such as repetitive movement, uncomfortable work stations, overcrowding and poor body positions.

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Image 13 shows the ergonomic hazards  imposed onto the Somali pirates.

In the movie Captain Phillips, ergonomic hazards are visible in various scenes where the Somali pirate crew is involved in strenuous positions and manual labor both on their mothership and the skiffs (rowing boat). The Maersk Alabama crew also was involved in strenuous task where their jobs require them to be on their feet. This requirement increased after the first pirate attack where they were instructed to work double shift. These hazards could cause muscle strains and possible major injuries to the musculoskeletal system in the future such as Upper Limb Disorder (ULD).

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Image 14 shows the hierarchy of control 

According to the hierarchy of control there are activities to reduce risks that can be used to help the crew. The first level of the hierarchy is elimination, therefore the members of the two crews could position themselves in a more comfortable position, avoid strenuous position and have a seat available to sit when their legs get tire. However, the crew cannot perform these action since it would hamper their ability to do their jobs. The second level is substitution but the duties cannot be replaced with a safer alternative since the tasks needs to be done in this manner. The third level isolation also cannot be done as the jobs cannot be kept away from workers to avoid injury since their work is needed for the ship to make its voyage. The forth level engineer or designing something to solve the workers problem of muscle strain, however, to my knowledge such technical relieve have not been invented just yet. The fifth level administration which is to arrange a system to make things better was implemented for the Maersk Alabama crew with a shift system but not for the Somali pirate crew, however because of the pirates attempted attack on the crew they had to work double shift. The final level and last resort is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which was provided for the Maersk Alabama crew but not the Somali pirates.

This film image released by Sony - Columbia Pictures shows, from left, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, and Mahat Ali in "Captain Phillips." (AP Photo/Sony - Columbia Pictures, Jasin Boland)

This film image released by Sony – Columbia Pictures shows, from left, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, and Mahat Ali in “Captain Phillips.” (AP Photo/Sony – Columbia Pictures, Jasin Boland)

 

Federation of Small Business (FSB) stated that overcrowding is an ergonomic hazard which could lead to stress and confrontation due to invasion of personal space, health effects caused by overcrowding. Overcrowding is seen in the movie when four Somali pirates were on a skiff which was designed to carry one person resulting in the pirates sitting in unsafe areas of the boat and almost falling overboard when the engine failed causing them to come to an abrupt stop. Overcrowding is also sighted in the scene on the pirates’ mother-ship where the entire crew of nine men were aboard the small ship and having to share this small space a confrontation occurred between the crew leaders, who constantly threatened each other throughout the movie, eventually leading to the death of one of them. To avoid such altercations the two pirate crew could have been sectioned off or been on separate ship to prevent interaction. The Trinidad and Tobago Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) (2004) as amended (2006) section 5 subsection 1 to 4 gives guidelines on the space required for each person in the workplace to avoid such incidence. This analysis shows that the pirates were clearly exploited by their employer and exposed to higher risk of ergonomic injury.

In conclusion, the failed contingency plan of Captain Phillips and his crew, along with their ignored reports to the authorities resulted in each individual being exposed to both temporary and permanent hazards. Each hazard examined shows varying degrees of threats imposed on individuals which can affect the future standard of life  awarded. The infrequency of pirate attacks on cargo ships should have affected the construction of a risk assessment,  as it should include the likely hood of all possible hazardous situations of ships in open water.  It is generally taught to members of the crew that as a means to preserve their welfare to give into the desires of pirates as cargo ships usually only have one fire arm. The biological, chemical, physical, psychological and ergonomic hazards sustained by everyone that could of been avoided had better health and safety practices been implemented.

Works Cited List

Basic Paperwork for Health and Safety.” NHS Health Scotland. NHS Health Scotland, 16 July 14. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Brad. “Look At Me, I’m The Captain Now.” Know Your Meme News. Chez Brger, 2016. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

By Doing So, You Have Created a Safer and Healthier Workplace. “OSH Answers Fact Sheets.” Government of Canada, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Canada. CA, 2016. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Doucette, Chrystal. “The Top Five Types of Workplace Hazards.” Small Business. N.p., 2010. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Goetsch, David L. The Basics of Occupational Safety. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.

ODPM. “Disaster Cycles: Mitigation and Preparedness.” Environmental Hazards and Disasters Contexts, Perspectives and Management (2011): 157-96. Web.

“Physiotherapy Alberta College Association : The Movement Specialists: Home.” Physiotherapy Alberta College Association : The Movement Specialists: Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016

“Tom Hanks Captain Phillips.” Tom Hanks Captain Phillips. Paul Greengrass, 24 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

“Trinidad & Tobago : Occupational Safety & Health Act (Amendment).” Trinidad & Tobago : Occupational Safety & Health Act (Amendment). Trinidad&Tobago, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

 

So now as you read………………….

Take a moment and close your eyes and imagine you are Captain Phillip or Captain Musa as the case may be. Picture all the hazards around and other violations of the OSH act. What would you do?

 

Leave a comment in the section as to what you may have done better.


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HOLES in Safety and Health

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In 1998 when Louis Sachar wrote the book “Holes” it was only in time that such an epic novel would be turned into a film filled with adventure, comedy and of course what is a movie without a touch of romance? In 2003, Walt Disney Productions brought the book to life filling our lives with laughter and of course leaving us a bit more knowledgeable as would be seen later in the blog. Stanley Yelnats, (whose title is actually his first name backwards!) is a misfortuned teen from a family where the males have been cursed for centuries as his ancestor broke a promise to a fortune teller Madam Zeroni. The plot is centered around him, his family struggles for a cure for smelly sneakers and the hilarious yet concerning path the curse paves for him. The movie begins with him being falsely accused of stealing a pair of sneakers (to which the family curse is blamed), he is then shipped of to a juvenile correction camp, Camp Green Lake for eighteen months where the real drama and comedy begins. The camp is situated on a dried up lake and is overseen by Louise Walker and her very strict assistant Mr. Sir. They gear the inmates with exactly two coveralls and a shovel to dig holes as a means of teaching them to build character. However, while the movie’s main purpose is to entertain, it is filled with obvious health and safety hazards which can be a serious call for concern and is addressed below.

  1. PHYSICAL HAZARDS-  

POTENTIAL HEAD INJURIES

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Stanley being hit by shoes

The great family curse that hovered over the minds of Stanley and his family for centuries led him to the belief that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a pair of stolen sneakers hit him on the head causing him to fall face down to the ground. While this is meant to be amusing, one cannot help but notice that this physical hazard can actually lead to severe injuries to the head which can cause memory loss, chronic migraine, internal head bleeding or cuts and bruises, none of which occurred.         

LACK OF PROPER PPE (PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT)

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Inadequate PPE being worn by the boys

 Very few of the guys had protective head gears, most were seen wearing caps, pieces of cloth tied on their heads and some not fully wearing their PPE because of the heat of the atmosphere. However, like coal mines, working in such conditions means that they are constantly exposed to dust in which bacteria can be found.  Also, most of these guys were young inmates and therefore they had no guidance on how to be cautious when digging the holes. The most precautions would be to look out for the lizards and rattlesnakes. However, it is remiss to say that the PPE, by just their boots and the orange coverall, which certainly represented the colour of a well sentenced prisoner and a pair of gloves that were stocked in the storage room was well enough. The boys lacked working equipment such as hard helmets and dust masks. Even though sand or dirt may seem soft in texture, there is the risk of the holes collapsing or caving in burying someone causing asphyxiation or injury to some part of their body. Therefore, hard helmets were certainly needed.

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Sam offering to fix… well everything

 Further along the movie, the issue with the lack of proper PPE comes up again. This time the viewers are given various flashbacks to link the situation at hand with the real history behind it and here we meet Mr Fixer, The Hopeless Romantic or as he is portrayed in the movie… plain ole Sam. Sam, as we all see has definitely fallen head over heels in love with the beautiful teacher Kate Barlow… so of course he jumps to the opportunity to rescue this damsel in distress by offering to fix the leaking roof of the school where she works. While he is all in it because of his heart desires, Sam forgets an important thing… protection. Of course we mean safety wear! He willingly climbs onto the roof in his shirt, dress pants and a hat… however, not a safety hat but a sun hat…

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Sam and Kate expressing their love

As the romance builds Kate encourages Sam to fix other things around the school not even advising him to put on a pair of gloves… Well if that is not true love what is? On a serious note however, little things like a helmet, coveralls, eye protection with the use of a goggles, dust mask and gloves makes a huge difference. Without them the risk of being injured multiplies significantly. The coverall would ensure some form of bodily protection, the gloves would prevent injuries to the hand, the dust mask would prevent the inhalation of dust as one is working, the goggles would protect the eyes from dust as they dig and the helmet would ensure protection of the head thus ensuring that any possible head injuries can be avoided. As skillful as Sam may be, the safety equipment still is a necessity.

EXPOSURE AND INHALATION OF EXCESSIVE DUST

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The impact of the dusty environment on the guys.

Yes, they were provided with gloves and coverall but can you imagine the amount of sand and dust that was getting into contact with their eyes, nose and also their ears? These only offered minimum protection.  There are so many hygienic issues where they are exposed to many types of dust related infections, rashes, skin sores and even the possibility of having breathing difficulties. The general environment being dusty, created by the sand which the inmates had to spend hours per day in is also unhealthy since it could develop respiratory diseases such as asthma. Not to mention, looking at Stanley,  you can see the amount of dust he had trapped on his skin and hair. This was really unhygienic and what made it even worse, was having limited showers which was based on their performance by digging holes and behavior. Seems tough huh? Not to mention, the water supply was really low, so they were lucky if they got a proper shower

UNSAFE AND UNSUITABLE RESTING AREAS

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Make-shift canvas tents where the boys slept

The resting location for the boys were mainly temporary makeshift tents out of canvas with improper ventilation as the windows are covered with nets. It was easy for the dust from the outside to enter into the tents of the boys this can lead to the formation of respiratory diseases and asthma by having to work in that environment and then to sleep inhaling all the dust blowing in. Can you imagine finishing a long day work then having to sleep in what looks like camp  set up for the World War?

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Stained mattress where Stanley slept

Not to mention the cool and clean cabin that the warden slept in compared to the boys. Not only are the tents very unsuitable, the beds themselves are dirty and stained! This can actually lead to the boys getting sick additionally, bed bugs might begin invading, which is actually a biological hazard and would be explained further down.

THE HOLES THAT WERE DUG WERE AN ACTUAL HAZARD

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Stanley driving Mr. Sir’s truck into the hole.

The holes are seen as a hazard since vehicles were passing there often. In one instance, Stanley stole the water truck and accidentally drove it into a hole. This hole had depth and could have caused injury to him such as his leg being pinned to the steering wheel or becoming trapped in the plunged vehicle. There was also the possibility of the water tank behind the truck crashing into the back screen of the vehicle. However, this is a Disney Channel movie, so there would be no major injury being shown but by using just your imagination and health and safety skills, it is easy to identify the hazards and the level of risk involved.

EXCESSIVE SUN AND HEAT EXPOSURE

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Warden requesting that the bottles be refilled

Throughout the camp, these guys were working in the humid temperatures with direct sun exposure which really posed a danger to their health. This can cause headaches, blackouts and worst case scenario skin cancer and skin irritations. The humid atmosphere left the guys dehydrated and having a short supply of water really did not help this case. When the guys finally found something valuable to the warden, only then were they treated to having their water bottles refilled on the same day… What a treat right? That was just for that day though…

Remember now, this land they worked on was miles and miles of dry desert land with no water source in any close range. In a particular scene when Zero and Stanley ran away from the camp, days went by without out them having anything to eat or drink. No water of course led to dehydration of Zero causing him to fall ill and vomit whatever was left in his stomach (ironically the peaches were his last ‘meal’ so maybe that may have had a little part to play in it!)

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Stanley carrying Zero on his back

This then led to Stanley having to carry him on his back. Yes Zero may be small…but Stanley also did not drink water or had anything to eat since the peaches incident. Therefore, in the heat and dehydration, it is only fair to say that Stanley can experience physical injury such as back and body pain as well as intense fatigue. This was also excess weight on his back and could have caused damage to his spine and put pressure on his legs as well.

DRINKING FROM A BROKEN JAR

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Stanley drinking from the broken glass jar

During a particular scene in the movie, one of the younger boys called Zero found a glass jar with preserved peaches which was actually years old… he proceeded to break the top of the glass jar and offered Stanley a drink of what he called ‘sploosh.’ This jar now not only contains sharp edges but there is also the possibility of fallen splinters within the jar of peaches. Nevertheless, because of his hunger, none of these hazards were of care to him. On top of which, they did not actually consider the danger of drinking or eating from the extremely dusty jar! They did not even consider the possibility that a jar of peaches that was there for so many years can do more harm than good. Guess satisfying a hunger ismore important than any potential hazards?

CUTS AND BRUISES

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Zero whacking Dr. Pedanski with a shovel

As the movie progressed, Zero becomes agitated by the ill-treatment and bullying he receives because they consider him to be ‘dumb’. When Stanley tries to defend Zero, Dr. Pedanski who isn’t even a real doctor at the camp, continues to mock him until Zero takes a shovel and whacks him across the face with it as seen above. This left him unconscious for a minute on the ground with an impression of cuts and bruises on his face.

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Cuts and Bruises (swollen eyes)

In addition, the picture above relates to a scene where they were trying to climb the mountain and Stanley slipped and Zero helped him up by using his shovel end which caused Zero to get damage and cause injury to his hand. As he held on to the metal part of the shovel, he had no gloves on for protection, therefore leading to his hands becoming cut and bruised. Of course, there was no way to possibly take care of this injury thus leading to Stanley unhygienically ripping a piece of cloth and tying it around the cut… this would definitely ensure that an infection would not occur, right? Another incident in which there were cuts was when Stanley now came unto the compound and had to dig his first hole. Upon doing this he finished work showing the other guys blisters on his hands and they casually responding how normal it was, those ‘Big- Fat- Blisters’. This alone shouts for the need of adequate safety gear as infections and sores are so easy to contract especially when working in such an unhygienic and unsafe environment.    

2. CHEMICAL HAZARDS –

CHEMICALS USED TO GET RID OF THE SMELL OF THE SHOES

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Stanley’s  father giving the mother a shoe to smell while she’s eating.

Exposure to chemicals in the workplace can cause acute or long-term detrimental health effects. In the beginning of the movie when the police entered Stanley’s home we saw dirty  shoes hanging from the kitchen and steam immersing from machines compressing them. The father was engaged in collecting old shoes from different persons  to invent a perfume to get rid of the smell from the shoes. Yes, you read that right, a perfume! The smell from the shoes can be very hazardous to the occupants living in the house since they came from smelly unsanitary shoes and may cause allergies and other nasal reactions. To make this perfume, he experimented with various chemicals and while he had on safety gear, he did all this in the kitchen! This is a dangerous hazard because it can be easy to get the chemicals mixed up with the food items and this is a serious health and safety issue. In addition to this, it was shown in the movie that the other renters were also complaining about the smell! Furthermore, the father did all his work using pots to soak the shoes… in the kitchen. That may be as unsanitary as it can get. He also hung the shoes on a line in the kitchen…

THE USE OF VENOMOUS NAIL POLISH

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Louise painting her nail with the snake venom in the polish

Further along in the movie the warden was using a nail polish which she said contained snake venom, a poisonous substance.  Louise proceeded to attack Mr Sir for disobeying her orders and scratched him with her nails which led to the snake venom burning the skin of Mr Sir’s face. Mr Sir could have suffered from numbness to the skin, blurred vision and he could have also developed difficulty breathing. As the movie continues his face was seen swollen and seemingly infected. Talk about venomous claws!

3.ERGONOMIC HAZARDS –

WORK POSITIONS

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Stanley sitting at the edge of the jole while Zero takes a break.

Ergonomic hazards occur when the type of work, body positions and working conditions put strain on your body. Ergonomic hazards were identified as Stanley and the other inmates developed bruises and constant strain from the use of the shovels considering that they dug hours, daily, with no proper protection of the hands, proper equipment for digging or even rest. As seen in the movie numerous times, the boys would be lying on the floor or sitting near the hole they were digging to rest. This could be a sign of them resisting the pain by taking rest on numerous occasions.

As some injuries were unidentified in the movie, one can say that with the strenuous work, constant movement of the body such as bending forward and continuous movement of the hands, as well as using the shovel daily for lengthy hours can cause injury to the body such as rotator cuff injuries and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. Rotator cuff injuries affect the shoulder more so, the muscles of the rotator cuff which help holds up the upper arms in the shoulder joint.  These muscles act on the bone, creating shoulder movement.  Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can occur as these are a collection of injuries affecting tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles, nerves and joints. They cause persistent or recurring pains most commonly in the neck, shoulders, forearms, hands, wrists, elbows and lower limbs. These could be results of their everyday duties of digging holes without proper gear and protection, which most likely is what these boys endured at the time since they were not treating their injuries while engaging in strenuous activities.

4. BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

REPTILE HAZARD

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Barfbag willingly let the rattlesnake bite him

The dry deserted plot of lands where the boys had to dig holes were plagued by what was called yellow spotted lizards, rattlesnakes and other dangerous creatures.  These deadly reptiles posed a serious threat to the lives of the young boys as they are toxic.  As the movie continued, one of the boys, Lewis, also known as ‘Barfbag’ was bitten by a rattlesnake causing him excruciating pain.  One might ask, why did the boy pushed his foot towards the rattlesnake despite the associated risks?  Many will not understand the frustration that comes along with working under such poor and harsh conditions where health and safety is not a priority.  Additionally, in the absence of proper protective clothing, where the boys were seen without footwear posed the risk of developing bacterial infections from other parasites that can be found within the dust and cracks in the ground.

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Yellow spotted lizard baring its teeth just before attacking

The lizards can be seen all over, in the holes where the boys were digging, on their work apparel and even  in the dorms. What made it so threatening is that these were not the average garden lizards, but the yellow spotted lizard. One bite from this creature and it is sudden death.

                                                        

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Venomous scorpion on Stanley’s bed

As the movie goes on, a scorpion was found on Stanley’s bed and no surprise as that environment is actually perfect for them.  This scorpion carries a potent venom that contact with it could have led to Stanley being stung and we all know where his luck resides… luckily however he was able to get away unharmed.

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Zero and Stanley enjoying onions

Frustration, tiredness and hopelessness caused the boys to reach their breaking point as Zero insisted he was not going back to Camp Greenlake.  They decided to climb to the top of the mountain because of Stanley’s great grandfather’s predicaments to which they were so happy when they heard the running water at the top. However, the water was muddy but because of their desperation, it was the best thing at that moment to quench their thirst. They drank the water and ate raw onions dugged from the river bank. This is a potential hazard simply because they were not even sure what type of vegetable it was but just thought it was the sweetest onion they ever ate. This could have turned out to be poisonous and detrimental to their health. It would be really difficult to digest such amount of onions in real life, the producers hinted however that candy apples were used to create the image of an onion, rather cool. Also, muddy water is known to be associated with dysentery, an infection in the intestine resulting in severe diarrhea.

5. PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDS –

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Bafbag putting himself in harms way to be killed by the snake rather than continuing to work

In this movie a lot of psychological hazards can be easily deciphered.. Having these young boys dig holes in an environment which can potentially lead to respiratory problems was one issue but the work itself was labour intensive. They had to work in harsh weather conditions with scorching climates in what is considered a desert like atmosphere, one of the characters known as ‘Barf bag’ looks at the almost empty water bottle and feels stress induced so much so that he actually goes up to a rattlesnake to be bitten and killed. This alone proves how stressful the work situation is that a young teenage boy willingly commits suicide just to get away from the stress. Therefore, this intensive work, the lack of water, the environment itself and the treatment of the boys places immense pressure on them, so much so that they can develop stress induced disorders, depression and many other psychological problems and even mental disorders.

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Stanley getting bullied by one of the boys

Ever since Stanley was detained in the camp, he was bullied by most of the boys there who referred to him as “fresh meat.”. On the first day he was beaten up and as the movie went on, we saw them taking away his food and they even took the artefact he found from digging which would have earned him a day off. The guys insisted that whatever he finds has to go to them and they took the credit for it. From a family of bad luck to being sent in such environment… talk about things going from bad to worst. Such treatment can potentially lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder or even lead to a person to contemplate suicide.

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Mr Sir injecting fear into the boys

Apart from the work stress and being bullied, not just Stanley but all the boys were instilled with fear from the warden and Mr Sir. In the beginning Stanley can be seen trembling when spoken to by Mr Sir and was greeted with stories about a slow and painful death if he was bitten by a yellow lizard. Ironically, when he found himself in a hole with Zero, covered with these lizards, they did not bite him! What a turn of luck right? However, actually being told these stories and especially the treatment by the warden and Mr Sir can have traumatic psychological impacts on the boys. They can develop severe stress disorders, mental health issues as well as self esteem issues.

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Stanley and Zero are covered by the extremely deadly and poisonous yellow stripped lizards with the lost treasure

Zero and Stanley decided to go back to the desert to dig one final hole in search of the same treasure that Warden Walker  had generations of young men dig.  Zero and Stanley found a treasure box, with a great surprised that Standley’s name was engraved on the box, a generational treasure from Standley’s fore parents.  In pursuit of Zero and Stanley, they were discovered with the treasures by the supervisors who demanded that the box be handed over.  It was at this point, the most scariest to the boys, the lizards crawled on the boy’s skin and covered them keeping them in the position for a long drawn out period, here the boys had to remain calm without motion to avoid being bitten.  This created psychological hazards, a great fear in the minds of the boys where there was a high risks of them being bitten and poisoned by the lizards all this while the Supervisors secretly wishing that they be bitten but with great astonishment that they were not.


CONCLUSION  

Mr. Sir: “You take a bad boy and make him dig holes all day long in the hot sun, it makes him a good boy! That’s our philosophy here at Camp Green Lake.” The movie entices persons with all expectations, very original and intriguing but unfortunately consisted of many hazards within the film where in reality, could have been avoided, prevented or dealt with in accordance to the situation and applicable laws and regulations instead of being poorly addressed and mainly ignored. Physical, chemical, biological, psychological and ergonomic hazards were evident throughout the movie.

In terms of physical there was a lack of proper protective equipment such as gloves, helmets, footwear and face masks to offer protection from the vast amount of dust that threaten the health and safety of the boys.  However, as seen in the movie, the warden and supervisors disregarded simple safety,  welfare and health requirements and regulations by allowing young persons to be subjected to such harsh and imminent conditions without adequate equipment for ensuring safety and health, and basic welfare requirement by providing clean and sufficient drinking water and even restrooms. Furthermore there were no provision of any medical equipment or emergency aids in the event something were to happen to one of the boys. The OSH Act of T&T (2004) as amended (2006) part 7 section 39 – 45 b speaks in regards to the welfare of persons including drinking water, facilities first aid appliances and restrooms and lunchrooms to name a few. These recommendations and methods could have successfully prevented the occurrence of the physical hazards.

As for the biological hazards, to highlight the main hazard here, Camp Greenlake was filled with venomous rattlesnakes and yellow spotted lizards that threatened the safety and health of the boys. One single bite from either or could lead to the sudden death and it definitely showed that the nearest hospital was nowhere in sight. When ‘Barf Bag’ was bitten, he never returned, for he was replaced by Stanley. Not to mention that Dr. Pedanski was not even a real doctor. Therefore, it should be recommended and said that, the Camp needed a proper medical facility or someone professionally trained in the medical field.

With regards to the chemical hazards, these were seen where Stanley’s dad was using chemical products in his kitchen as well as the warden also made her own special nail polish consisting of rattlesnake venom which she then proceeded to injure Mr. Sir with it. These situations could have been prevented or avoided if proper action took place such as a separate room to conduct his experiments as well as proper health facilities again, such as a first aid kit, to ensure that Mr. Sir was treated. He should have been rushed to the hospital as he was poisoned but this could not be done. Proper inspection should have been done so that there would not have been those substances for such use on the compound.

According to the OSH Act of T&T (2004) as amended (2006), it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all his employees.  In the Act it further states that no young person shall work at a machine unless he has been fully instructed as to the dangers arising in connection with its operation and precautions observed. In addition to this the OSH Act of T&T (2004) as amended (2006) under the duties of the employer speaks to the proper treatment of chemicals, its labelling and safe keeping and can be kept in mind to ensure the extinction of these hazards.

The psychological hazards mainly involved the bullying of Stanley, the impact of the work environment on the boys and the ill treatment of the boys by Mr Sir. These can severely affect the boy’s mental health and can lead to the development of stress disorders, mental disorders like bipolar, depression and even lead to the development of suicidal tendencies. As a kids movie it is meant to entertain however, once these psychological issues are brought to the forefront one cannot see past it. In order to deal with this, there could be team building exercises to bring the boys closer and even have counselor on the camp in event the boys or even the warden need counseling.

Ergonomic hazards were present as Stanley and the other inmates were bruised and received constant strain from the use of the shovels as they dug daily for hours with no proper protection of the hands, proper equipment for digging or even rest. In reality, what could have been recommended to avoid and prevent these hazards is if proper equipment and working gear was allocated such as gloves. Proper facilities such as resting grounds were needed so that they can get the adequate amount of rest needed instead of constantly being trapped in their holes and continuously engaging in strenuous labour intensive work without proper rest in between.

Therefore while the movie is meant to provide a belly full of laughs and tears of joy, as students of Occupational Safety and Health Management, the potential hazards are not to be taken lightly or overlooked. Upon presenting such recommendations, we can ensure that the majority of these hazards are eliminated and the level of risk involved is reduced.


References

Holes GIFs – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://giphy.com/search/holes.

“Holes Movie Part 2.” YouTube. April 30, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRFCJCYT-sI.

“Holes Movie Part 3.” YouTube. April 30, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjwhQRlATYs.

“Holes Movie Part 8.wmv.” YouTube. April 30, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlnH8FkbfYs.

“Holes Part 1.” YouTube. April 30, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmM6YjrDauo.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration – Home. Accessed September 29, 2016. https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy10/sh-20839-10/circle_chart.pdf.