OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health


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

 

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

 INTRODUCTION

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


Mechanical Hazards

Machine Chop/Cut Hazard

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

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

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

 

 TEMPERATURE HAZARD

 

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Image 3 & 4: Carpentry Shop Temperature Hazard

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

 

PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Trip Hazards

Fall Hazards: Slip and fall & Trip and fall

Crush and Lifting Hazard

 

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

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

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

 

Crush and Lifting Hazards

 

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Image 7: Standing Lumber posing Crush and Lifting Hazard

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

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

 

Electrical Hazards

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

Wall plugs filled with dust

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

Recommendations:

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

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

 

Fire Hazard

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

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

 

 “Who hurts when I get hurt”?

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

References:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 


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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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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.