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Occupational Safety and Health is one of the main concerns of employers not only because of the human dimension involved but also because of their legal responsibilities. The objective of the Mauritius Employers’ Federation in this key area is to create greater awareness among both employers and employees about the need for a safe and healthy work environment. This is essential for the enterprises to be able to play their economic and social role.
It cannot be denied that, besides the legal requirements, there is a cost-benefit relationship between OSH, on the one hand, and productivity as well as profitability, on the other. We believe that human and financial losses maybe avoided through professional safety management for the benefit of employees as well as enterprises.
Health and Safety in a workshop is very important. If an employee uses equipment, tools and machinery, he should receive safety training. This should ensure that he feels confident in the use of machines and can operate them without having an accident or causing an accident to other people.
Before an employee can use equipment and machines or attempt practical work in the workshop the employee must understand basic safety rules. These rules will help keep the employee and others safe in the workshop.
In order to assure a safe system of work in the motor vehicle mechanical repair workshop, results from a systematic examination of a task in order to identify all the hazards and assess the risks, and which identifies safe methods of work to ensure that the hazards are eliminated or the remaining risks are minimized.
A motor vehicle mechanical repair workshop constitute of several employees and several types of machineries that are being used. In order to recognize the hazards that are present, there are several steps that can be taken into consideration:
Check the manufacturers’ instruction or data sheets for chemicals ( grease, benzene, engine oil, etc ) and equipment ( electrical trolley, towing machines, overhead lifting crane, etc ).
Walk around the garage and take notes of things that an employee may thought to pose a risk.
Talk to staff/employees to find out what work methods are currently in use, what training they had been given, and any particular requirements.
Listen to the employees own concerns about health and safety
Go through the accident book
In a mechanical workshop, health and safety will deal with biological hazards, chemical hazards, physical hazards and ergonomics. Most accidents in mechanical repair involve trips and falls or poor methods of lifting and handling often resulting in serious injury. Accidents involving vehicles are frequent and cause serious injuries and deaths . Work on petrol tanks in particular causes serious burns, hundreds of fires and some deaths.
Fire and explosion
Fires and explosions are the cause of most deaths and property damage in motor vehicle repair workshops. Mostly, they involve the mishandling of petrol when draining fuel tanks and lines but incidents have also occurred during ‘hot work’ (any process which generates flames, sparks or heat) repairs on diesel tank or the inappropriate use of paints/thinners e.g. to light rubbish fires. Make sure that safe methods of work with flammable materials and high temperatures.
Some dos and don’ts
Use a proprietary fuel retriever/adaptor when draining petrol from tanks and lines
Store containers of flammable liquids in a safe place
Before carrying out any ‘hot work’ on drums or other containers that may contain vapours such as petrol, diesel, paints, solvents etc carefully consider the risks. Safer options include using cold cutting/repair techniques and replacing rather than repairing.
Where ‘hot work’ on a tank or drum is necessary, reduce the risks by emptying, cleaning, gas-freeing or inerting.
Don’t drain petrol over or close to pit or drain
Don’t smoke, weld or carry out other ‘hot work’ while handling petrol or flammable paints/thinners
Don’t use petrol/thinners to burn rubbish or unwanted materials
Power tools transmit vibration into the operator’s hands and arms. Hand-arm vibration (HAV) can cause vibration white finger, a permanent and painful numbness and tingling in the hands and arms, also painful joints and muscle weakening.
Hand-held portable power tools are used extensively in motor vehicle repair workshop. Purchase tools that have been designed and constructed to reduce the risk of vibration, and are suitable for their intended use. Train workers to use them safely and keep them properly maintained.
Plant and equipment
Plant and equipment can cause accidents if they are used unsafely or poorly maintained. Vehicles falling/rolling off incorrectly positioned jacks or stands, particularly where they are not chocked, are one of the main causes of fatal accidents in motor vehicle repair. In particular:
lifting plant and equipment, including bottle/trolley jacks, axle stands
ensure they are regularly serviced, maintained and, where necessary, thoroughly examined
use correct pins in axle stands
correctly position jacks and axle stands, and use chocks
ensure that vehicles are always properly supported
Guards and other safety devices must be maintained in good condition and properly maintained.
Accidents are the cause of about 20% of injuries in motor vehicle repair. This category includes being struck by vehicles falling off inspection lifts, materials falling from elevated storage areas or the raised forks on fork lift trucks, by tools and materials ejected from plant and equipment and by movement of vehicles under repair.
Tyre removal, replacement and inflation
Tyre removal, replacement and inflation should only be tackled by competent staff. The main hazards which can arise include:
manual handling injuries, which account for nearly a half of all tyre-related incidents reported;
tool-related injuries (which make up a quarter of incidents), particularly from handtools such as tyre levers; and
compressed-air accidents e.g. from a ruptured or burst tyre or violent separation of the component parts of the wheel. These accidents tend to result in serious injuries, including fatalities.
Safety during tyre inflation
Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy, which varies according to the inflation pressure and the surface area of the tyre. If the tyre fails, an explosive force can be released at an angle of up to 45 degrees from the rupture. This has resulted in numerous fatalities. It is crucial that the airline hose between the clip-on chuck and the pressure gauge/control is long enough to allow the operator to stand outside the likely trajectory of any explosion during inflation. This will vary depending on the size of the tyre and its positioning.
Car tyres generally contain less energy than truck tyres and their size and profile make them less likely to fail catastrophically. Sensible precautions are still required, but a restraining device such as a safety cage is not normally necessary.
Fume from welding, flame cutting and other ‘hot work’ varies greatly and may cause dryness of the throat, tickling, coughing, tightness of the chest and difficulty in breathing. Long- term changes in the lung are possible. Harmful fumes and gases during welding in motor vehicle repair include those from primer and paint layers, other surface coatings such as underseal, and from lead in car bodies.
Use local exhaust ventilation e.g. mobile extraction unit with flexible exhaust hood and trunking, wherever possible and always in confined spaces.
Roadside repair and recovery: Road traffic incidents (RTIs) and roadside safety
People at work on the roadside either recovering or repairing motor vehicles, including tyre and windscreen replacement, are at risk from other road users. Protection of workers and members of the public from traffic risks on public roads is mostly a matter for road traffic law, which is enforced by the Police and other Agencies. However, existing health and safety legislation requires employers and self-employed persons to protect workers and safeguard others put at risk by their work activities. For example –
safe systems of work should be devised to ensure the safety of workers and the occupants of vehicles being recovered/repaired
vehicles and/or attachments e.g. winches, cranes etc may be subject to health and safety legislation.
Working in the motor vehicle repais industry exposes people to potential dangers and it is the task of the employer (or self-employed person) to identify and minimize those risks.
Health and safety in the woodworking industry
The woodworking industry has one of the highest accident rates in manufacturing, most of which are caused by contact with moving machinery. Around two-thirds of all accidents occur on just three types of machine:
vertical spindle moulders
To reduce the chances of an accident occurring, it’s best to look at what might cause one and then decide what you need to do to stop it happening. The best way to do this is by a risk assessment.
Assessment of the workshop
Conditions will vary from clean to workshops where machines are buried under dust and off-cuts. The general tidiness is often a good barometer of how well other issues are being managed.
Machinery should all be well maintained and have the correct safeguards. It should also only be used by those competent to do so and there should be evidence available to prove this. There should also be good control of health risks from wood dust (asthma, dermatitis), manual handling and noise, etc.
Working with machinery: Woodworking is the only industry where machinery accidents cause more injuries than slips and trips. Around 25% of these are classed as major injuries. Accidents can be caused by either contact with the moving parts, including tools, or kickbacks of timber and ejected cutters. This happens because of inadequate guarding and poor systems of work, often resulting from insufficient training.
Slips, trips and falls account for 19% of accidents in this industry.
Vehicles: major injuries to workers and members of the public were caused by vehicles at work. So it is vital to put sensible precautions in place to reduce the risks that vehicles can cause.
Fire and explosion: Wood dust is highly flammable and you need to take care to extract it safely and keep it away from sources of ignition.
Health risks in woodworking are not as well known as the safety risks but it is important that they are also included in the risk assessment.
Key health concerns in the woodworking industry are:
Most injuries in the woodworking and furniture industry are caused during manual handling activities. There is potential for injury present during:
handling of timber and board material
machining and assembly
handling and storage of the finished product
Lifting and handling aids can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
Wood dust can cause serious health problems. It can cause asthma, which carpenters and joiners are more like to get.
Hardwood dust can cause cancer, particularly of the nose.
Settled dust contains the fine particles that are most likely to damage the lungs.
Woodworking has some of the noisiest work places in industry. Short exposure to high noise levels can cause temporary hearing loss, but longer exposures can result in permanent damage.
Sufferers often do not realise their hearing is being damaged, as hearing loss tends to be gradual. However, some effects such as tinnitus can develop more quickly. Tinnitus can be a permanent ringing or whooshing sound in the ears which can be very distressing, particularly when it’s quiet, such as when you are trying to go to sleep.
As well as causing asthma, wood dust, sap and the lichens associated with wood can have adverse health effects on the skin, respiratory tract (nose and lungs), eyes as well as the whole body.
Some chemicals used in the woodworking industries can have adverse health effects. Particular care should be taken when using dichloromethane (DCM), also known as methylene chloride. This solvent is used to strip paint from wood. As well as being classed as a carcinogen, the vapour can cause drowsiness and headaches. In high concentrations this can lead to unconsciousness and death.
Key elements to managing woodworking safely include:
Risk management: To reduce the chances of an accident occurring, it is best to look at what might cause one and then decide what you need to do to stop it happening.
Training and supervision: By law, all workers must receive training and supervision that is appropriate to the equipment they will be using.
Workplace management: Paying attention to layout, worker movement and keeping workshops and storage areas tidy can help reduce the risks.
Workers themselves should also be encouraged to become involved in health and safety as they are often the best people to understand the risks and help find solutions. Through worker involvement, employees and employers, can act together to reduce accidents and ill health within the workplace.
Health and Safety in the office
The modern office environment presents an array of potential hazards that can be avoided by taking simple precautions. Although working in an office has always been considered relatively
safe, office workers face occupational hazards that include eye strain, overuse syndrome, headaches, discomfort, trips and falls and manual handling injuries.
The ACT Occupational Health and Safety Act 2005, aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of all people in every place of work. Under the Act employers, employees and the self-employed are required to meet certain standards of health, safety and welfare.
Employers must ensure the health safety and welfare of their employees. To comply employers must:
â€¢ Provide or maintain equipment and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.
â€¢ Ensure that equipment and substances are used, stored and transported safely and without risks to health.
â€¢ Provide information, instruction, training and supervision that ensures the health and safety of employees
â€¢ Maintain their workplace in a safe condition including entrances and exits.
â€¢ Provide adequate information about any research and tests of substances used at work.
Employers must also ensure the health and safety of visitors to the workplace.
â€¢ Cooperate with their employers in their efforts to maintain the required level of health and safety.
â€¢ Take reasonable care of the health and safety of others.
The self-employed must ensure the health and safety of visitors to
the workplace who are not their employees.
Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and substances must:
â€¢ Ensure that their products are safe and not a risk to health when properly used.
â€¢ Provide clear information about the safe use of their products.
â€¢ Make available information about research and testing.
People in control of workplaces (e.g. building owners who are not the employer) must ensure that the workplace including entrances and exits is safe without risks to health and safety.
Reporting and recording workplace injury and dangerous occurrences
Employers and persons in control of workplaces must report serious workplace injuries, illness and dangerous occurrences to the ACT Occupational Health and Safety Office on a “Injury and Dangerous Occurrence Report Form”. Employers are also required to maintain workplace records of employee injuries or illness that result in absences from work of one day or more.
The office environment is a combination of lighting, temperature, humidity and air quality. The office can be a healthy and comfortable place to work if the correct combination of these elements is maintained.
Temperature and air conditioning
Office temperatures can be localized. A desk situated in direct sunlight will be much warmer than the average temperature in the office and a desk situated directly under an air conditioning vent can be cooler than average.
Some older personal computers can generate as much heat as small electric bar heaters raising local temperatures above the room average. This problem can be compounded by the clustering of computers in one particular section of the office.
Many of the complaints of discomfort in air-conditioned offices occur in the winter time. The cause of the complaints can be because if the air temperature is about 24 degree Celsius this feels hot to the worker coming into the building from the outside air. The problem can be made worse if the air movement is less.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air. The optimum comfort range for relative humidity is 40-60 per cent. Low humidity can cause dryness of the eyes, nose and throat and may also increase the frequency of static electricity shocks. Relative humidity above 80 per cent can be associated with fatigue and reports of “stuffiness”. If relative humidity is consistently high or low call in an air conditioning expert to conduct a review.
Ventilation refers to the movement of air and rate of fresh air input. Air movement of less than 0.1 metres per second can lead to stuffy rooms whereas above 0.2 metres per second draughts can be felt.
Air contaminants in the office can include bacteria, viruses, mould spores and dusts, solvent vapours or chemicals generated or used in the building. Air conditioning units that do not provide adequate amounts of fresh air can cause high levels of CO2. Stale air due to poor ventilation and excessive heat build-up or humidity can also contribute to air contamination. Appropriate control measures for the reduction of air contamination include:
â€¢ Effective air filtration.
â€¢ Ensuring that adequate amounts of fresh air enter the building.
â€¢ Maintenance of air conditioning units, including regular cleaning.
â€¢ Preventing the obstruction of vents.
â€¢ Locating equipment using solvents in areas with substantial air movement and/or installing local
Environmental tobacco smoke is an indoor contaminant and there is growing recognition that non-smokers may suffer adverse health effects through inhaling tobacco smoke. Organisations are increasingly expected to limit passive smoking risks in offices in the interest of their employees and clients. A number of employers have fulfilled their legal obligations to
provide a safe and healthy work environment by implementing no-smoking policies in their workplaces. Procedures such as consultation, education programs and the allocation of designated smoking areas are recommended for the development of an effective no-smoking policy.
Plants in the office
United States NASA studies have shown that plants reduce the levels of toxic substances such as formaldehyde, benzol and carbon monoxide in the air.
The basic requirements for adequate lighting are that the work must be easy to see and the light comfortable to the eyes. Illumination is measured in units of LUX – lumens per square metre.
Sharp differences in illumination between adjacent areas should be avoided. Ideally the surrounding area should be slightly lower in luminance than the task area itself, except in special cases such as viewing outlines against a luminous background. Light should fall from the side rather than from the front to avoid reflections on the work surface. Glare causes visual discomfort and is usually caused by light sources which are too bright or inadequately shielded.
Safety in the office
Most office accidents result from slips, trips and falls, lifting objects, punctures or cuts and
being caught in or between things.
Slips are caused by slippery floors, uncleaned spillages or gripless shoes. Trips occur over objects lying on the ground or jutting out into aisles or poorly maintained floor surfaces. Falls can be from ladders or from standing on chairs to reach an object. Many of these accidents can be avoided by simple planning and good housekeeping:
â€¢ Traffic ways and aisles should be well lit, and be kept clear of materials, equipment, rubbish and electric leads.
â€¢ Floors should be level and the use of mats discouraged. Spilled liquids and anything else dropped on the floor should be immediately picked up or cleaned away.
â€¢ Free standing fittings should be completely stable or secured to the wall or floor. Filing cabinets should be placed so that they do not open into aisles and should never be left with cabinet drawers open. For stability load cabinets starting from the bottom and do not open more than one drawer at a time.
â€¢ Office machines and equipment should be kept in good working order. Equipment using hand-fed processes such as electric staplers and paper guillotines should be guarded and staff trained in their proper use.
â€¢ Many pieces of equipment using electricity can mean trailing cables, overloaded circuits, broken plugs and sockets. Ensure that these dangers are seen to by qualified personnel.
Escalators and moving walkways
Escalators and moving walkways should function safely, be equipped with any necessary safety devices, and be fitted with one or more emergency stop controls which are easily identifiable and readily accessible.
Manual handling is a term used to describe everyday type activities such as carrying, stacking, pushing, pulling, rolling, sliding, lifting or lowering loads. For office workers this can include tasks such as moving boxes of stores, filing, getting equipment from cupboards and filling the
photocopying machine with paper. Injuries that are a result of a manual handling incident include twisted ankles, sprains and strains, torn ligaments or broken bones. Many risks arising from manual handling can be controlled by quite simple solutions.
Reducing manual handling injuries
Stage 1: Risk identification
Where are the manual handling injuries happening in the office?
â€¢ Look at injury records.
â€¢ Talk to employees and the workplace OHS committee.
â€¢ Watch the work in progress.
Stage 2: Risk assessment
What is causing these manual handling injuries? Look at:
â€¢ Force applied
â€¢ Actions and movements
â€¢ Range of weights
â€¢ How often, and for how long the job is done
â€¢ Where the load is positioned and how far it has to be moved
â€¢ Availability of mechanical aids
â€¢ Layout and condition of the work environment
â€¢ Work organization
â€¢ Position of the body while working
â€¢ Analysis of injury statistics
â€¢ Age of the workers
â€¢ Skill and experience of the workers
â€¢ Nature of the object handled
â€¢ Any other factor considered relevant.
Stage 3: Risk control
What changes can be made to prevent these manual handlinginjuries?
â€¢ Redesign the job
â€¢ Provide mechanical handling equipment
â€¢ Provide training in manual handling skills
Once this process has occurred it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes that have been made. Any evaluation must assess whether the changes are used correctly, help reduce manual handling injuries and have not created new problems.
Chairs and posture checklist for keyboard workers
Well adjusted chairs improve body position and blood circulation, reduce muscular effort and decrease pressure on the worker’s back. Chairs should swivel, have five wheels for stability, breathable fabric on the seat, a rounded front edge and have adjustable seat height and backrest for lumbar support.
Lighting for VDUs
Place VDUs to the side of the light source(s), not directly underneath. Try to site desks between rows of lights. If the lighting is fluorescent strip lighting, the sides of the desks should be parallel
with the lights. Try not to put the screen near a window. If it is unavoidable ensure
that neither the screen nor the operator faces the window. If the VDU is well away from windows, there are no other sources of bright light and prolonged desk-work is the norm, use a low level of service.
Using a mouse
A well designed mouse should not cause undue pressure on the wrist and forearm muscles. A large bulky mouse may keep the wrist continuously bent at an uncomfortable angle. Pressure can be reduced by releasing the mouse at frequent intervals, by selecting a slim-line, low-profile mouse and by using the mouse at a comfortable distance from the body.
Rest breaks and keyboard work
Frequent short breaks are most effective in relieving the strain associated with keyboard work. For reasonably sustained keying activity a break should be taken for a few minutes every half hour. During this break operators should walk around and perform whatever movement relieves the feeling of muscle fatigue. Movements that are a natural response to fatigued muscles such as shrugging the shoulders are generally the most effective in dealing with the fatigue.
A particularly useful method of relieving muscle fatigue is to occasionally alter posture. That is, to change from the recommended posture for short duration. Some chairs have a forward tilt control that allows the worker to sit forward which can sometimes help to reduce fatigue to the muscles of the forearm, neck and shoulders.
Working with VDUs can produce tired and sore eyes and eye strain. To reduce strain take short rests and look into the middle distance or if necessary close the eyes and cover them with the hands without pressing and breathe deeply eight or nine times.
Muscle care and preparation
The following exercise should be done before commencing work and after lunch breaks. However it is important to:
â€¢ Never stretch to the point where pain is experienced.
â€¢ Refrain from doing these exercises if you have a medical condition that could be made worse by stretching.
Sanitary conveniences and washing facilities
Suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences and washing facilities should be provided at readily accessible places. They and the rooms containing them should be kept clean and be adequately ventilated and lit. Washing facilities should have running hot and cold or warm water, soap and clean towels or other means of cleaning or drying. If required by the type of work, showers should also be provided. Men and women should have separate facilities unless each facility is in a separate room with a lockable door and is for use by only one person at a time.
An adequate supply of high-quality drinking water, with an upward drinking jet or suitable cups, should be provided. Water should only be provided in refillable enclosed containers where it cannot be obtained directly from a mains supply. The containers should be refilled at least daily (unless they are chilled water dispensers where the containers are returned to the supplier for refilling). Bottled water/water dispensing systems may still be provided as a secondary source of drinking water. Drinking water does not have to be marked unless there is a significant risk of people drinking non-drinking water.
Accommodation for clothing and facilities for changing
Adequate, suitable and secure space should be provided to store workers’ own clothing and special clothing. As far as is reasonably practicable the facilities should allow for drying clothing. Changing facilities should also be provided for workers who change into special work clothing. The facilities should be readily accessible from workrooms and washing and eating facilities, and should ensure the privacy of the user, be of sufficient capacity, and be provided with seating.
Facilities for rest and to eat meals
Suitable and sufficient, readily accessible rest facilities should be provided.
Seats should be provided for workers to use during breaks. These should be in a place where personal protective equipment need not be worn. Rest areas or rooms should be large enough and have sufficient seats with backrests and tables for the number of workers likely to use them at any one time, including suitable access and seating which is adequate for the number of disabled people at work.
Where workers regularly eat meals at work, suitable and sufficient facilities should be provided for the purpose. Such facilities should also be provided where food would otherwise be likely to be contaminated.
Work areas can be counted as rest areas and as eating facilities, provided they are adequately clean and there is a suitable surface on which to place food.
Where provided, eating facilities should include a facility for preparing or obtaining a hot drink. Where hot food cannot be obtained in or reasonably near to the workplace, workers may need to be provided with a means for heating their own food (eg microwave oven).
Canteens or restaurants may be used as rest facilities provided there is no obligation to purchase food.
Suitable rest facilities should be provided for pregnant women and nursing mothers. They should be near to sanitary facilities and, where necessary, include the facility to lie down.
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