Controlling hazards in the workplace

Controlling hazards in the workplace

A controlled work environment minimises the potential for accidents.
Safety Control measures are put in place because the risk assessment identified certain hazards. Hours of work and a team of trained health and safety staff goes into compiling these assessments.

PPE and Environmental Conditions
Work Practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) are commonly used in conjunction with administrative and some engineering controls. Environmental conditions must be controlled.

PPE and health and safety

Types of Controls:
Engineering Controls
Administrative controls
Exposure controls
Work Practice controls

Engineering Controls
Engineering controls are generally considered to be the closest control to the risk and should be considered first. Engineering Controls involve a change in the Physical Nature of the Workplace.
The Concept is to either eliminate the hazard or modify the task to the point the hazard becomes a non-hazard. Examples of engineering controls start with elimination of the hazard (don’t perform the hazardous task) and ranges to modification of the task through changes to the design of the work or workplace. Most, if not all hazards can be eliminated or reduced through engineering controls although there are instances where cost or required changes to the process make the control unattainable. Examples of Engineering Controls include but are not limited to: (i.e)

Eliminating the task by using mechanical ads.
Rearranging, modifying, redesigning processes or work flow.
Changing Load size.
Changing the weight of objects handled by opening a heavy box and moving contents separately rather than carrying entire box.
Modifying or creating adjustable work surface heights thereby reducing bending or stretching.
Using mechanical lifting/moving equipment or devices that reduce the force required to move materials.

Administrative Controls

Points to remember about administrative controls:
Administrative controls limiting the amount of time working at hazardous job can be used together with the other methods of control to reduce exposure to hazards.
Administrative Controls do not eliminate exposures. They only reduce exposure time.
PPE is the least effective method for controlling hazards in the workplace and should be used only when hazards cannot be controlled sufficiently by other methods.
PPE can be uncomfortable, decrease work performance, and can create new health and safety hazards. Workers in PPE should take regular breaks.
Hot or humid working conditions decrease the effectiveness of PPE. Under these conditions, workers should take frequent breaks and drink plenty fluids.
The type of PPE required depends on Hazards, the way exposure affects the body and exposure time.
If the PPE does not fit you well it may not protect you; this particularly important with respirators. All PPE should be checked for leaks.
All Workers using PPE should be trained in the proper use, maintenance and limitations of PPE.

Work practise controls
Work practise controls refer to safe lifting/handling training. Such training does not eliminate or reduce the physical hazard of manual material handling but rather helps the worker cope with the physical rigors of the task by teaching work methods that help to reduce body strain and sprain potential and using PPE. Personal protective equipment (PPE) Simply offers some form of Physical Protection From Injury while making no change to the physical hazard of the task therefore the risk of injury remains unchanged.

Below is an example list of controls by tasks and factors.

Controls by Task:

1.Hazard Control Options

In Example:

1.1. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Lifting / Lowering
Engineering control:Reduce weight by repacking to Smaller Size; Change to lighter materials; and organize the work area to avoid Lifting shoulder or below the knee level; and introducing of mechanical assist equipment.
Administrative Control:Reduce frequency of lifting, rotate work tasks; change from one person to two -person lift.
Work Practise control:Use of Proper lifting/material handling techniques such as proper body mechanics and posture. Training in proper use of equipment, introduce rest breaks.
PPE:Work Gloves, Non -slip safety footwear, coveralls.

1.2. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Carrying and Holding
Engineering control:Reduce weight by repacking to Smaller Size; Change to lighter materials; Introducing carts, mechanical lift and/or conveyor system.
Administrative Control:Reduce frequency of lifting, rotate work tasks, reduce distance, Design task to promote two handed front carry, assign extra help to carry or hold, introduce rest breaks.
Work Practise control: Proper Carrying/material handling techniques.
PPE:Work Gloves, Non-slip safety footwear, coveralls.

1.3. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Pushing and Pulling
Engineering control:Use of carts with appropriate handles, design, and weight capacity, powered moving equipment; tuggers, sliders, chutes, conveyor systems.
Administrative Control:Reduce the frequency and/or distance. Rotate work tasks, introduce rest breaks and assign extra help.
Work Practise control:Use of proper body mechanics for pushing/pulling.
PPE:Non-slip safety footwear, work gloves.

1.4. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Gripping and Pinching
Engineering control:Use lightweight tools /objects with ergonomic handles to promote relaxed grip and neutral wrist position. Design work to promote use of a power grip. Build work assist tools to ease task.
Administrative Control:Reduce frequency, rotate work tasks or add tasks to reduce repetitive gripping/pinching. Introduce rest breaks
Work Practise control:Train workers to recognise symptoms of musculoskeletal injury. Teach stretching and hand strengthening exercises.
PPE:Gloves with vibration dampening properties, padding or special grip surfaces.

2. Hazard Control Options:

2.1. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Reaching
Engineering Control: Place work between hip and chest level of worker. Support height of worker to access task between hip and chest height
Administrative Control:Introduce Clothing for manual materials handling. Offer Physical fitness programs. Preventative maintenance programs for equipment.
Work Practice Control:Training/education in Safe Manual materials handling.
PPE: Proper fitted PPE for the task at hand.

2.2. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Task Design
Engineering Control:Reduce size/weight of items introduce mechanized equipment
Administrative Control:Reduce frequency, rotate work tasks, and designate lift teams
Work Practice Control:Manual materials handling Training.
PPE:Work Gloves, non-Slip safety footwear coveralls.

2.3. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Environmental Factors
Engineering Control:Design work area with appropriate ventilation, heating / cooling, Lighting
Administrative Control:Rotate workers through work areas: Take breaks from heat or cold. Pace the work to take into account work inefficiencies due to environmental factors.
Work Practice Control:Heat / cold stress recognition training, work hardening to acclimatise workers
PPE:Protective Clothing Designed for use in the particular environmental conditions.

2.4. Manual Material Handling Hazard:Personal Factor
Engineering Control:Specify appropriate clothing/dress codes for the work tasks. Wear non slip safety footwear. Encourage workers to stay physically fit.
Administrative Control:Introduce Clothing for manual materials handling. Offer Physical fitness programs. Preventative maintenance programs for equipment.
Work Practice Control:Training/education in Safe Manual materials handling.
PPE:Proper fitted PPE for the task at hand.

3. Hazard and Control options by task:

3.1. Task:  Forceful exertion (Lifting, Lowering and Carrying):

3.1.1. Hazard or Risk Factor: Weight , shape or Size (awkward) Grip (Unable to use power grip) Location of object (above shoulder or below the knee) Surface slippery or no handles Perform repetitively; Quick, for Extended periods of time, while seated or kneeling Immediately Stretch after prolonged Flexion or sitting Moving Over long distances Fragile loads Chemical or Biological Hazards Slips,trips and falls

3.1.2. Control option: Provide training in proper body mechanics and lift techniques Identify the weight on all loads Plan routes and test loads before lifting Lifting Instead of carrying one heavy load , separate into smaller, lighter loads, make multiple trips, use a cart or ask a co-worker for help Minimise distance of the load from the worker Minimize the vertical distance when lifting and avoid tasks above shoulder height or below knee height Minimize carrying distance Improve the grip on the load with handles or cut outs Move smaller/lighter packaging

3.2. Task: Forceful exertion (Pushing and Pulling)

3.2.1. Hazard or Risk Factor: Overexertion when pushing or pulling Size and or shape of load No handles and or incorrect handle height Sudden starts and stops Poor cart design Caster/wheels not maintained

3.2.2. Control Option: Provide training in proper body mechanics and push/pull techniques - Push whenever possible Use two hands when pushing or pulling Do not pull with arm(s) extended behind the body If vision is blocked when pushing a load from behind, push it from the front corner or side Use carts with the right weight capacity, size, number and type of wheels for the surface and Weight. Ensure horizontal or vertical handles are available Secure loads to carts Reduce the load (make two trips)

3.3. Task: Repetition

3.3.1. Hazard or Risk Factor: from repeating manual materials handling tasks

3.3.2. Control Option: Job/Task rotation Alternate working positions - combine or eliminate tasks Stretching Frequent, shorter rest breaks Ergonomic design of workstation, tools and equipment.

3.4. Task: Posture

3.4.1. Hazard or Risk Factor: Bending, twisting, overreaching

3.4.2. Control Option: Ergonomic workstation design Appropriate storage (at waist height) Minimise reaching distances Remove obstacles

3.5. Task: Gripping

3.5.1. Hazard or Risk Factor: Use of improper gloves Poor Tool /equipment design Use of air or power tools

3.5.2. Control Option: wrists in neutral (straight) when gripping types/size/design - workstation design a power grip rather than a pinch grip gloves are required, ensure proper fit and type is available

3.6. Task: Local Contact Stress

3.6.1. Hazard or Risk Factor:
1.Handling objects with sharp uneven edges
2.Handles with sharp grooves or edges movement that require contact with hard surfaces
3.Palm/Knee type control buttons
4.Power tool trigger with sharp edges tools
5.Tool handles that are too short and press on the base of the hand handles made of hard material which press on the base of the hand
6.Kneeling resting or leaning on sharp of hard surfaces

3.6.2. Control Option: or pad edges of objects tools that rub the wrist a tool with spring design to open pressure over as wide an area as possible personal protective equipment pads, padded gloves) tools with padded handles

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

PPE is the primary control measure where engineering controls are passive control measures.
When using PPE , the hazards are still present in the environment; the protective device merely provides a barrier between the hazards that are still present in the environment; the protective device merely provides a barrier between the hazards and the worker.
It is imperative to understand that the issuing of personal Protective Equipment is the last resort when all the other methods fail to render the hazard safe.
Steps to be enforced
To Ensure that the personal protective programme is successful the employer should enforce these steps:
- Write a policy on the use of PPE and inform employees and visitors on the use of PPE
- Select the proper and Correct type of equipment
- Implement a thorough training programme
- Enforce the use of PPE
- Risk assessment can and will identify where PPE should be used.

It is very important to use the PPE provided to you. There are Safety signs that show which protective clothing should be used in certain areas. It is easy identifiable items, from a picture sign.

Different types of personal protective equipment (PPE) Listed Below:

Head Protection:
Hard hats provide protection for the head in areas where the danger of falling or flying objects exists. Or where the head could be bumped against low structures. However this protection could also be lost when a hard hat is cracked or the insert is damaged or missing. Hard hats must never be used as a seat or a bucket or for any other purpose except that for which they were designed. Hard hats’ linings must be washed when dirty at least on a monthly basis.

Hearing Protection:
Earplugs and earmuffs provide protection for ears in noisy hazardous areas, to prevent loss of hearing. Ear protectors must be maintained in an efficient and sanitary conditions at all time. They should be stored clean, dust free containers; otherwise, users could suffer from infection of the ears.

Eye and face protection:
Different situations will require different safety equipment. It is important that the most effective eye protection be worn and that care must be taken when storing and cleaning this safety equipment as the lenses can scratch and thus causing a reduction in sight. Store these equipment in such a way that the lenses will not scratch.

Safety spectacles:
Safety spectacles provide protection for the eyes and must be worn where danger of flying particles exist. e.g. where metal hand tools are used, such as chisels.

Full-face shields:
Must be worn when grinding work is done, and where splashing hazards exist.

Safety Goggles:
Safety goggles must be worn in all dusty areas. All employees involved in flame cutting, welding or brazing operations must wear welding goggles.

Hand protection:
Safety Gloves provide protection for the hands and must be worn if there is a chance that employees could suffer injuries to the hands. E.g cuts or severe abrasions. Safety gloves must be kept clean an in good condition and must never be neglected and left to lie around.

Breathing protection:
There are two kinds of protection available:
- Filter type - These reparators have filters, cartridges or canisters that remove contaminants from the air by passing the ambient air through the air purifying element before it reaches the user. These filters have a limited lifespan and have to be replaced at regular intervals.
- Air supply type - These supply clean air directly to the user from a source other than the air surrounding the user. The Clean air is supplied by means of an “air hose” and this hose will have to be attached to the worker. Care must be taken as not to damage the “air hose” Some of these type filter type respirators can only be worn once or have a limited effective lifetime, and are to be changed when the user feel that little protection is offered. Respirators must be stored in such a manner that they will not be damaged and exposed to any substances. It is important to clean and inspect the respirator after it has been used. Before using a respirator, make sure that the respirator will offer the required protection and that all the parts are in a good working condition.

Foot protection:
Safety Shoes are fitted with steel toecaps and provide protection to feet against falling objects. Safety shoes and laces must be kept in good condition (cleaned and polished regularly) and must never be neglected.

Protective clothing:
Overalls are issued to employees to reduce the possibility of injury caused by contact or radiated heat, cold abrasive or sharp surfaces. Loose tattered clothing worn by employees is not only inactive of untidy method of working, but is also a hazard as it is likely to get caught in moving machine parts.

Different Safety signs for PPE:
Informational Signs should be placed in applicable areas that protective clothing should be worn.

Safety Signs:
Safety Shoes
Eye Protection
Respiratory equipment
Head protection
Hearing Protection
Safety Harness and fall protection

Maintenance and storage practices for PPE:

PPE Must be used and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition. Maintenance must be carried out on respirators, safety shoes, gloves etc. as this will ensure that the equipment will function properly and it will increase the life of the equipment. Damaged or broken equipment must be replaced.
Slack, worn-out, sweat soaked , or twisted headbands or hard hats must be replaced. Visual inspections can determine when the headband elasticity is reduced to a point below proper function.

Only Clean equipment to the manufacturer's specifications. Making use of other methods will cause undesired functioning of the equipment.

Goggles should be kept in a case when not used. Spectacles, in particular, should be given the same care as one’s own, Since the frame, nose pads, and temples can be damaged by rough sage. Items such as respirators and hearing protection equipment should be placed in a clean, dust proof container, such as a box, bag, or Plastic envelope, to protect them until reissue. Store equipment must be according to the manufacturer's’ specifications.

Exposure Controls

It is clear that the degree of exposure is a very important determinant of risk. Thus, as exemplified in the above mentioned information about hazards and risks, a low exposure to something of incredibly low hazard may result in a low risk. Conversely a high exposure to something of incredibly low hazard may result in a moderate or even high risk therefore reasonably attempt must be made to attempt quantify an exposure (e.g. noise, to a specific dust or to radiation) in order to then proceed to attribute a measure at risk to it.

Posted date: 20th Feb 2019
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