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Developing a Workplace Health Surveillance System

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Published: Fri, 13 Jul 2018

Title: A) Identify and describe a suitable health surveillance programme for a generic factory which contains both an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop. b) Suggest the type of analysis, which could be carried out by the occupational hygienist and those which would rely on an occupational physician. c) What are the benefits and limitations of health surveillance in the workplace?

The health surveillance programme selected for a generic factory containing an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop is one that takes into account all the potential risks for the factory employees as well as the possibility of factory accidents causing damage to the local environment. Generally the companies that own generic factories, which contain both engineering workshops and woodworking shops are like any other factories in that they have to comply with all the relevant Health and Safety as well as environmental protection legislation, procedures, and also statutory regulations. These legal frameworks and structures are introduced by the British government and also in some cases by the European Union, and have to be implemented.[1]

In other words all the owners of factories and workplaces need to take into full account environmental not to mention health and safety issues that could leave their premises shutdown due to accidents, or outbreaks of illness and other environmental as well as health considerations.[2]

That is when suitable health surveillance programmes come into the equation for businesses and factory owners as these schemes are intended to prevent environmental damage as well as breeches in workplace health and safety regulations.[3] The concept of the health surveillance programme was basically developed to assist businesses and organisations in meeting legal requirements. Essentially ensuring that all the industrial and retail workplaces or premises that they use to produce goods and deliver services strictly adhere to all the relevant environmental protection measures as well as health and safety regulations and procedures.[4]

A generic factory, which contains an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop, should certainly not be the exception to the rule in relation to operating a suitable health surveillance programme. In order to ensure full compliance to environmental regulations as well as health and safety procedures businesses and organisations should frequently review and even alter the health surveillance programme in operation upon their premises, factories, and workplaces. The health surveillance programmes ideally need to reflect the nature of their business operations as well as the size and suitability of the premises they actually use. In any case the actual level of health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures adhered to will have already been set through legislation, procedures, and also regulations. In many respects the setting up of an health surveillance programme is a highly convenient framework for the co-ordinating of all the organisation’s efforts to meet its legally set health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures.[5]

Arguably the businesses and organisations that operate any generic factory, which contain an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop should be fully aware of the need for a suitable health surveillance programme for their respective premises. Furthermore due to the actual and also the potential environmental as well as health and safety risks at such a generic factory, which contains an engineering workshop and woodworking shop high standards need to be reached.[6] Therefore the businesses and also the organisations that own generic factories should certainly consider stringent health surveillance programme for their premises. For if such a programme was too relaxed it would pose the risk of being ineffective due to employers and businesses could potentially fail to fully comply with health and safety standards alongside environmental protection measures required under all relevant legislation, procedures, and statutory regulations.[7]

To a very large extent stringent measures would arguably be the most effective besides being the most suitable basis for a health surveillance programme at any generic factory. In this case a generic factory, which contains an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop as these facilities put employees at a greater risk of serious industrial injuries and also exposure to potentially dangerous equipment and materials.[8] The employers and businesses in charge of the generic factory should be fully aware and also able to understand their legal obligations as an organisation to their employees, and also to the environment as well. The employers and businesses responsible for establishing the health surveillance programme for the generic factory would take the health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures fully into account when setting the targets to be achieved over all. After all failure to reach such standards and enforce environmental protection measure could result in prosecutions if they are caught by health and safety, or indeed environmental inspection teams failing to reach legal standards.[9]

The suitable health surveillance programme developed and implemented at any generic factory containing an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop would also take into account and measure the environmental consequences or impact of the factory and its completed products and delivered goods. Normally it would be sound practice to use the legally defined targets for environmental protection measures as set out in British legislation, as well as procedures, and regulations, some of which originate from the European Union. Therefore the employers and businesses that are the operators of generic factories, which contain an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop would find health surveillance programme unhelpful. Especially the general ones used in warehouses and retail units as simply unsuitable because their premises are more unsuitable because their premises are more likely to have equipment or indeed waste by products that pose a health and safety threat to their respective workforces.[10] Depending upon what is actually produced in generic factories the industrial processes used in engineering workshop and a woodworking shop will produce chemically or physically hazardous waste by products. The workers of generic factories, which contain engineering workshop and a woodworking shop, could reasonably expect to have to endure fluctuations in temperatures, gas emissions or fumes, not to mention the potential for the spillage of harmful substances.[11]

The greater the potential health and safety risk the more stringent the health surveillance programme to be put into affect should be. Besides monitoring the health and safety levels of machinery and equipment the health surveillance programme put into place should ensure that all waste by products are disposed of responsibly, as well as having all areas cleaned on a regular basis.[12] When drawing up a suitable health surveillance programme it could also be sensible to take the age as well as the construction of each generic factory into account as some buildings could be more dangerous than others are. For instance, older premises might have to be vigorously checked for asbestos. If the generic factory has an engineering workshop that produces chemical reactions, as well as toxic waste products then the health surveillance programme would only be suitable if procedures for the monitoring of and disposal of chemicals are included. Finally to be effective any suitable health surveillance programme would entail that occupational hygienist and also reliance upon an occupational physician routinely monitored the generic factory.[13]

Ideally when monitoring and inspecting the generic factories the occupational hygienist and op would use the most efficient types of analysis available to ensure the health surveillance programme is fully adhered to. For the occupational hygienist and op it would be very useful for the business and organisation in charge of the generic factory to provide detailed accounts of what is produced and used within the engineering workshop and a woodworking shop.[14]

The occupational hygienist would need to have a very sound knowledge of the chemicals, waste by products and emissions that could potentially pose a threat to the workers at the generic factory as well as the environment of the surrounding area.[15]

To keep the generic factory containing an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop for workers and the environment the occupational hygienist needs to have all the latest information regarding chemical, as well as organic threats. To allow the health surveillance programme to succeed in protecting both the environment and workers the occupational hygienist need to analyse the cleanliness of the generic factory in general and the production areas in particular. The failure to clean the generic factory properly could increase the chances of environmental pollution not to mention raising the risk of unsafe working conditions within the engineering workshop and also a woodworking shop taken as a whole. It is recommended that the oh use a comprehensive system to analyse the waste by products, emissions and discharged water to check for pollutants and bacteria that would contaminate the local environment.[16]

It should also be remembered that a lack of hygiene standards and good practices can increase or allow the spread of infections or illnesses through businesses and workplaces with the generic factory being just as prone as any other factory to such bouts of sickness. In the generic factory unhealthy hygiene standards have the capacity given certain conditions to severely restrict the availability as well as the capacity of workers to carry out their normal workplace functions and job roles. Of course some conditions and illnesses that started in the generic factory could spread other people and even animals causing damage to the environment.[17]

In many respects the purpose of an occupational physician would involve having to fulfil a very similar task to that of the occupational hygienist, in other words to help protect the local environment, as well as the health and safety of the workers of the generic factory. The objective therefore of an occupational physician is to have the responsibility of checking that all of the machinery as well as the materials used in the generic factory, which contains an engineering workshop and a woodworking shop will not pollute the environment of the surrounding area.[18]

As with the occupational hygienist the occupational physician should carry out frequent checks of the equipment, machinery, materials, and waste by products to ensure an accurate analysis of the environmental impact that the generic factory is actually having. An analysis that allows the person taking on the role of an occupational physician to quickly and accurately measure the effectiveness and the environmental impact of all relevant equipment and materials would be very useful.[19] Measuring the impact that the generic factory has upon the environment will demonstrate whether or not the health surveillance programme is fit for purpose in reducing pollution as well as protecting the health and safety of the generic factory’s workers.[20]

The generic factory will cause less pollution if its owners use sustainable materials besides using energy and water efficient equipment to make its finished goods. The occupational physician can check the sustainability of all the materials used by verifying were they come from before reaching the generic factory.[21] The equipment or at least the newer machinery within the generic factory should be energy and water efficient to comply with environmental protection procedures and regulations. The occupational physician will also provide the capability to suggest improvements to the materials and equipment used in the generic factory so that it reduces its impact upon the environment and improves health and safety in line with its health surveillance programme.[22]

Therefore to be effective in supporting the health surveillance programme the occupational physician should have figures about when equipment, materials, as well as machinery fully comply with the health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures laid down by the law. Also when items within the generic factory fail to meet the health and safety standards plus the environmental protection measures then the occupational physician should be able to suggest improvements and updates to equipment, materials, and also machinery. The occupational physician are thus having to decide whether or not to analyse if the owners are in fact genuinely interested in meeting health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures via its health surveillance programme.[23]

There are arguably benefits to the use of health surveillance programme in the workplace. Firstly by using the framework of an health surveillance programme there is a great deal of scope for improving health and safety at the workplace. The drawing up of a health surveillance programme has the ability to make employers, employees and trade unions concentrate upon improving health and safety practices and also procedures at the workplace. By identifying areas of concern the introduction of health surveillance programme means that employers, employees and trade unions co-operate with each other to make workplaces safe. It should be briefly mentioned that trade unions usually have strong interests in protecting the health and safety of their membership within workplaces especially those that could be dangerous facilities or premises that will be made safer.[24]

Another benefit of introducing health surveillance programmes into workplaces is that these programmes can improve the environmental sustainability of industrial and retail premises. When health surveillance programmes are introduced it provides opportunities for equipment and materials that increase sustainable development, as well as improving health and safety standards. The new machinery and more sustainable materials potentially reduce the health and safety risks from emissions and toxic waste by products.[25] In theory, at least environmentally cleaner workplaces should mean that workers suffer less from illnesses linked to the pollution caused by production processes. For instance reducing airborne pollutants should lower the occurrence of asthma in both the workplace as well as in the surrounding areas. Arguably cleaner places should also be more attractive premises to work within.[26]

They are limitations to the impact that health surveillance programme introduced into workplaces can have. Employers might publicly adhere to improving health and safety as well as improving environmental sustainability, yet there are limits to how far they will go to do so. Employers and businesses will only implement health surveillance programme if they actually have to do so, or if they believe that there are benefits for them of enacting such programmes.[27] Basically employers and businesses would regard health surveillance programme as being useful if it increases the efficiency of their operations.[28]

The other main limitation of using health surveillance programme in the workplace is that the employers and businesses will not want to improve health and safety standards or indeed environmental protection measures.[29] Employers and businesses will frequently regard health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures as a legal, procedural, or regulatory necessity rather than a desirable not to mention well-intentioned improvements. For the majority of employers and businesses health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures under the auspices of their respective health surveillance programme are implemented to avoid breaking the law, plus any subsequent prosecutions for doing so. The drawing up of an health surveillance programme is often a really useful, pragmatic framework for ensuring compliance in full to all relevant pieces of legislation, procedures, and regulations drawn up by the British government and with increasing policy input from the European Union.[30]

The drawing up of, and the subsequent operation of health surveillance programmes would be useful if not always unrestrained for employers and businesses. In many respects the employers and businesses have to strictly adhere to health and safety standards as well as environmental protection measures in each and every single workplace covered by the scope of such legislation, procedures, and regulations. After all the main purpose of any health surveillance programme is overwhelming to make sure that the employers and businesses covered by this programmes do exactly what they are supposed to do to fully comply with all of the relevant legislation, procedures, and regulations. However at the end of the day, for most employers and businesses want to do nothing more, or nothing less than what they are required to do legally.[31]

Over all the general effectiveness as well as the full extent of the health surveillance programme type of policy framework and implementation can be limited by budgetary constraints affecting the employers and the businesses intending to comply with all relevant legislation, procedures, and statutory regulations. Or to put it in another way the employers and the businesses will seek to introduce the relevant health surveillance programme to them to achieve the meeting of all health and safety standards not to mention the environmental protection procedures to the minimum level of legal acceptability. Employers and businesses will therefore limit their activities in relation to the achievement of the objectives contained within each health surveillance programme to all that they legally have to achieve. Thus from a logical perspective once the minimum legal levels of safety and environmental protection have been achieved the employers and also the businesses involved would only have to change the health surveillance programme on an irregular basis. Basically the health surveillance programme would remain unaltered and would only be amended to reflect any changes to legislation, procedures, and also statutory regulations. After all whenever legislation, procedures, and statutory regulations remain the same as before there is no strong incentive to exceed health and safety standards or indeed environmental protection measures. [32]

Bibliography

HSE COSHH essentials for machining with metalworking fluids

HSE40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits

Miller P, Rossiter P, & Nuttal D, Demonstrating the Economic Value of Occupational Health Services

1


Footnotes

[1] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[2] Miller, Rossiter, & Nuttal, pp. 2-5

[3] HSE, 2004 p. 9

[4] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[5] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[6] HSE, 2004 p. 9

[7] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[8] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[9] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[10] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[11] HSE, 2004 p. 15

[12] HSE, 2004 p. 9

[13] HSE COSHH and the woodworking industry, pp 2 – 4

[14] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[15] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[16] HSE, 2004 p. 9

[17] HSE COSHH and the woodworking industry, pp 2 – 4

[18] HSE COSHH and the woodworking industry, pp 2 – 4

[19] HSE, 2004 p. 9

[20] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[21] Miller, Rossiter, & Nuttal, pp. 2-5

[22] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[23] HSE, 2004 p. 12

[24] HSE, 2004 p. 15

[25] HSE COSHH and the woodworking industry, pp 2 – 4

[26] Miller, Rossiter, & Nuttal, pp. 2-5

[27] Miller, Rossiter, & Nuttal, pp. 2-5

[28] HSE COSHH essentials p.3

[29] HSE40/2005 p. 2

[30] HSE COSHH and the woodworking industry, pp 2 – 4

[31] HSE, 2004 p. 18

[32] HSE COSHH essentials p.3


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