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As an Occupational Health Manager, it is my responsibility to ensure the fulfilment with responsibilities imposed by health and safety legislation, at the same time as promoting the health of all employees, as well as reducing the risk of cases of occupational ill health developing. The reason of the report is to give detailed information about the problem that concern about the safety standards of the factory. As a result of the survey of the total number of injury and illness of the worker in the factory increase by 7.85% in the mid of the year 2012, Occupational Health Department has conducted a thorough inspection to the factory facilities and equipment. Based on the inspection that had been done, several serious safety problems have been considered can affect the factory operation. Most of this safety problem happened in the Material and Handling department. So after taking several points of view, I want to recommend measures to improve safety standards of this company.
The first safety problem that I saw in the Material and Handling department that needed immediate action is the use of protective gear. As a factory processing electronic device it is necessary for the worker to wear the protective gear. As far as I concerned the worker wearing the protective gloves without the mask or safety suits. Protective gears given to workers are mean to care for the products and the production from contamination by workers. However it is not designed to protect workers from the side effects of the process, products, and the chemicals. As we all know the safety standard procedure, every operator must know that the electronic manufacturing process involves many toxic chemicals. The use of the many types of toxic chemicals in electronic manufacturing makes it difficult to assess or identify the possibilities of contamination. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of Malaysia set certain standards for workers protective gears. Every worker need to wear the correct apparel for their type of work, such as employees handling chemical residues must wear enclosed suits with gas mask to protect their respiration. A manager must be aware of the form of dangers on at the work site and ordered their workers to wear the correct safety clothing. So, as a safety precaution, protective gear must be worn every time during the working hours. An employer must be aware of the type of dangers of the work site to have their workers wear the correct safety apparel. In order to solve the problem, the hazard in the workplace must first be assessed because our machinery and equipment is always changing. Once the exact risks are known, suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be selected. Another thing is that PPE needs to be looked after and is properly kept when not in use. For instance, in a storeroom specifically for the PPE storage. This is to make sure the PPE is in good condition for the workers to use. Factory's supervisors need to make sure no workers exempt themselves from wearing the equipment simply because their works only they work just need a little time. It is necessary to wear suitable equipment all the time, for even short periods. The loss or damage of PPE should be reported to the supervisor or manager at the time. The works should be stopped if the protective equipment is if the equipment is damaged or does not comply with the standards. Deteriorating condition of equipment should also be noted by the manager or supervisors. The supervisor on duty at the time should be notified about the problem. Damage equipment must be repaired as soon as possible and in the meantime, the standby equipment should be used.
The next problem that I saw is the handling of flammable and combustible materials. According Guidelines on Storage of Hazardous Chemicals,
"'Flammables' are those chemicals, which have low flash points and they are easy to catch fire."Hazardous chemical" means any chemical which possess any of the properties categorised in Schedule I of the Occupational Safety and Health (Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Hazardous chemicals) Regulations 1997, and any chemicals which is specified in schedule 1 or schedule 2 (Part 1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards) Regulations 1996, or for which relevant information exists to indicate that the chemical is hazardous."
In the chemical storage of the department I saw that materials are being arranged not according to type. You can even find 3 types of chemical liquid solution in one rack. This is very dangerous for the worker and also to the administration. These latent safety hazards can be avoided by carry out control measures during operation of the factory. From what I see, I think there are no regular inspections of the storage. Some of the materials are under fire safety regulation. For fire safety precautions, every flammable and combustible material must be kept according to their fire traits and characteristics. Flammable liquids, for example, must be split from other chemicals by a concrete firewall. In addition, other combustible chemicals must be kept in an area where smoking and using an open flame or tools that generate sparks is banned. Different chemicals that are hazardous when they come into contact with each other must be stored separately. If something bad happened such as short circuit, everyone from the management until the operators will face major problems. This will lead to the damage of company reputation and also stock decline. Furthermore, if the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia make a sudden inspection of the facilities, our factory can be charged under Occupational Safety and Health (Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Hazardous Chemical) Regulations 1996. Before something bad happened, I suggest Managing Director to take action against this particular issue. Several actions that can be done are the monitoring of chemical safety data sheet, classification and tagging and a chemical register. The label will also identify any hazards associated with the use of that chemical. The labelling should be in standard form like the sample below.
These labels include:
1. The name of the chemical
2. The concentration (strength) of the chemical
3. Information about hazards associated with the chemical
4. Emergency information ("If accidentally entered the eyes ...")
5. The name of the maker
6. The date of item produce.
Next, the managing department has to provide data, training and supervision to make sure the safety and health of the workers at work.
The next problem is the operating and maintaining powered industrial trucks. There are 4 types of industrial trucks that are currently being used by our factory, and each type is suitable for use in certain locations and under specific conditions. In the Material and Handling Department there are 6 types of truck are being used such as walk platform truck and turret trucks. From my observation most operators did not know that this truck cannot be operated if a certain condition happened. Workers must not use powered industrial trucks in environments containing harmful concentrations of the chemical substance such as Acetylene, Butadiene and Hydrogen (or gases or vapours equivalent in hazard to hydrogen). In addition, workers may not use these trucks in an environment containing dangerous elements of metal dust, as well as aluminium, potassium, magnesium, and other metals of equally harmful characteristics. In air containing carbon black, coal, or coke dust, workers may use only approved powered industrial trucks designated as EX. In an atmosphere where dusts of magnesium, iron, or copper might be present, fuses, transistor, motor parts, and circuit breakers of trucks must have enclosures particularly for such locations. All tools and equipment should be at recent standard. It needs to be inspected from time to time for safety matters such as not functioning or broken. Workers might modify the machinery safety equipment such as modifying the safety bars, protective glasses and shields believing that this idea might make their work easier or quicker. This will lead to a serious problem in the future. So, in order to overcome this problem, every industrial truck must be sent to check and services if it is suitable to use in our factory or not. In addition, the related workers or the truck drivers must be given a course about the procedure of using the truck.
Another problem that seems to me so serious is the condition of the floor. As our factory reaching its 20 years of production, the floors in the factory also aged naturally. When we talk about industrial environment, the floor is the main storeroom for the dirt and debris that naturally happen as an outcome of industrial work and human traffic. After being spoiled by many chemical substances and also engine oil drip for a period of time, from the industrial truck or machine leakage, the floor become so slippery for walking and doing work. For example, after mopping if you walk on the floor you can feel the floor feels so greasy and you like walking on an ice. Most of the slippery effect you can see very clearly after the worker mopping the floor. This situation is very serious because some of the workers are non industrial standardised shoes which I mention early in the protective gear issue. This situation will increase the risk of the worker to slip, trip or fall over. There are already 3 incidents that cause our worker being hospitalised because of falling over. If this keeps continuing, the company has to pay huge amount of personal injury claims. To clean a factory floor is a time-consuming task and cannot be done well without the support of the machine. In order to overcome this situation, there are several solutions. First is the using of automatic scrubbers. Although there are suggestions to use this equipment few years ago, but the implementation of still hasn't materialized. There are many reasons our company should invest in an automatic scrubber. From my research, I found that the right equipment with the correct size machine and the right features can save thousands of Ringgits each year in labour cost. An automatic scrubber function is to scrub, polish, and dries the floor. All can be done in one step, allowing the worker to complete the job quickly and efficiently. One advantage of the scrubber is that it reduces the time taken and power taken for cleaning the floor. It is functioning like sweepers where it can be pedestrian or drive. It comes in a variety of sizes depending upon the requirements of the factory. It is important to regularly clean and maintain the exterior and interior presentation of our factory. Factory floor cleaning is an essential task for any factory because it is an important procedure which can improve the safety of the product manufacturing process.
The last but not least problem is product arrangement. As the division that handle most all of the production output. The Materials and Handling Department are occupied by an enormous pile of product. Sometimes when the delivery of the products delayed, the stacks of product and boxes become so high. At times, it overloads the benches, trolleys or pallets. This can cause workers getting crushed by the falling products. They also getting the risk of scratch, bruising, twisted and strains to the part of the body that is suppressed or trapped. Workers could ultimately suffer injury and amputation. There are several factors that cause these problems. First is the small working area. As our factory production becomes higher, the size of the working area has been the same since the opening of the factory. This causes a limited space to place for our finished products. Next is the distribution logistics. The finished product should be delivered to the customers according to its schedule. This is to make sure that the products will not pile up. So the Distribution Department should take this matter to their concerns. The proposal to extend the factory area should be considered seriously. The temporary actions that can be done are to make sure the worker doesn't stack the products and not overloading the stack racks.
In depth, the safety standards of our company should be always at its best. After making analysis of the problems that arise in the Material and Handling Department, there several deductions and explanations can be made. First, we should not place the blame for the problem entirely on Material and Handling Department. The safety problem happened in the department is the result of chain mistakes and carelessness accumulate from other departments. Second, most of the problems are caused by the condition of the factory. Our factory has been already old and the spaces in there cannot accommodate the production capacity. So, above all, I recommend the Managing Director take this issue to the higher level which is The Board of Director. The factory renovation is necessary to cope with the higher product demand from the customers. Next, as the step to increase our occupational and safety standard our company, Managing Department should take several initiatives. First is assessing the safety and health risks cannot be avoided. Routine inspection should be done regularly in order to make sure we understand the changing situations and have time to take anticipatory and safety measures. Then we must make sure that the inspection must be followed up with the record of data. Each equipment need to be checked and labelled properly and the accurate record should be maintained. Every department must have records of the risk evaluation and the list of accidents at work. As the condition of the factory keep changing, the management should inform workers and their representatives about potential risks and precautionary measures that can be taken by them. The management need to allow the workers consulting the Occupational Health Department on all health and safety matters and ensuring their involvement. The management must always give reminder to the worker about the health and safety instruction and the way to report any potential danger in the factory. To conclude, workers in this occupation can face with many types of hazards in the factory. Occupational health and safety handles various ranges of workplace dangers from accident prevention to the most dangerous hazards including toxic smoke, dirt, noise, heat, and anxiety. Stopping work-related illnesses and accidents must be the objective of the management's action, instead than attempting to solve problems after it already developed. Management obligation for health and safety and strong worker involvement are two necessary factors of any excellent workplace health and safety standard. The most efficient accident and illness prevention must be done when work processes are still in the early phase. As the Occupational Health Manager, it is my role to work proactively by encouraging in taking action before hazards become a problem and to prevent workers from being exposed and harm by the occupational hazards. We as the management can do this by eliminating hazards or keeps them under supervision when they cannot be eliminated.