Why is Occupational Health & Safety so Important?
Reduced workers’ fatigue, reduced sickness of employees resulting in less absenteeism, reduced risk of injury at work (repetitive strain injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, etc.), increase in worker motivation and loyalty to employees resulting in less job turnover, increase in quality of output, increase in quantity of output and efficient workforce – are some of the obvious reasons why the health and safety policy is so important. Moreover occupational health and safety guidelines help an organization in documenting each and every operation, thus taking a step forward towards implementation of any Total Quality Management (TQM) system.
Assessment and proper documentation of health and safety regulations also helps to deal with workers’ claim. Making occupational health & safety an assessment manual for an organization requires identifying and scripting the following sections:
- Identify areas of responsibility, hazards, assess risk (risk assessment);
- List job safety information;
- Decide on emergency arrangements, maintenance of controls, routine inspections, training records; and
- Finally, prepare the action list.
Each of the sections mentioned above will require one or more formats to be prepared and filled up.
Areas of responsibility
Define your nature (field) and area (physical dimension) of responsibilities. For example, all managers are responsible for:
- Physical condition of premises, equipment, vehicles under their control;
- Activities carried out by people working in the premises; and
- Staff working for them whilst on the premises and any other visitors or contract workers.
Fill up Area of Responsibility Form drawing out boundaries of responsibility, including storerooms, plant areas and access routes. Identify the Responsible Managers for every concerned department by their name. Record the equipment of that department in separate form.
Safety Policy of ABC Limited
We (The Company) are committed to the development and implementation of management practices designed to ensure the health & safety and welfare of employees, customers and neighbours.
The standards of safety within individual departments are seen as everyone’s concern and all employees are expected to take an active part in assisting the company to achieve and maintain these standards.
Information on individual factory’s performance will be collected and monitored. Safety panels consisting of senior production personnel and representatives of employees will meet on a regular basis to discuss problems.
Standards of compliance will be monitored throughout the group factories by inspections and audits.
We (The Company) believe that through these measures, all group employees will make a substantial contribution to the enhancement of health & safety procedures above the high levels that have already been attained.
A hazard is a situation with the potential for causing injury. First identify the physical hazards that are present in your workplace. The only way to do this is by a thorough initial inspection of all the areas within your area of control. Identify the preventive and control measures in specific situations, for example, if the stack of cartons were to fall, or if the cutting machine blade touches the finger or if the broken machine needle springs back to the eye.
Table 1. Hazardous Conditions and their Control Measures
|Danger of||Due to||Control Measures|
|People falling||Open stairways/Changes in level/Floor surface uneven/Walking over fabric rolls in fabric warehouse||Put fences, railing. Mark with yellow lines for uneven surface|
|Falling materials||Carton and fabric bale storage above head height, Unprotected edges of work platforms, Loading/unloading of bale, carton, machine on truck||Re-design storage space. Use protective helmets in loading bay|
|Dangerous equipment||Band knife and Straight knife cutting machine Electrical equipment/Pressurized boilers in finishing room||Use protective wire gloves|
|Lifting Equipment||Fork lift trolleys/Lift/hoist for goods and passengers||Label the bottles with warning message|
|Dangerous substances||Toxic/corrosive/irritant/harmful (certain chemicals used in spotting, stain removing and garment dyeing/processing), Flammable materials (drycleaning chemicals)/Liquids/LPG||Use masks|
|Health hazards||Dusts/Airborne cotton fibres gases/Vapours (spotting chemicals)||Use protective goggles|
|Radiations||LASERS (marking lights in cutting table & sewing workstations) Ultraviolet (UV chambers in testing laboratory)||Use ergonomic workstation for minimizing injuries|
|Noise/Vibrations||Poor quality machine table||Label the bottles with warning message|
|Basement||Poor or choked ventilation||Restrict personnel movement in vehicle movement area. Use hooter|
|Manual handling||Handling of fabric roll in cutting dept. Handling of garment bags in finishing and washing dept. Loading/Unloading of bales, cartons, machines.||Use eye protection, ear plugs|
|Chemical hazards||Textile testing laboratory analysis/Garment dyeing and washing|
|Maintenance||Machine tool setting and adjustment (Mechanic workshop)||Welding/Brazing/Fabrication|
Accidents are not only the result of hazardous conditions, but also the result of unsafe working practices, or in other words, ‘hazardous activities’. Observe the jobs people do in your area, both as part of their normal work or as an occasional task. Record all activities in your area on a form. Remember, some people may do a variety of different activities as part of their job. For example, a sewing room helper may do both pocket marking and pocket folding. Give each task a reference number. Then, identify special hazards directly related to work and arrange training to avoid contact with potential hazards.
The control measures may be:
- In the form of physical safeguards, such as guarding machines, using barriers or control systems;
- Dependant on information and instruction given in site rules or warning notices;
- Relying on training and close supervision; and/or
- Personal protection.
For each hazard, decide how the potential for injury is controlled; for example, the stack of cartons supported by railing, using protective wire gloves while cutting or ensuring protection glass fitted with machine is engaged while working. Knowing the number of people employed in an activity is useful when we assess the risk. Even knowing the special hazards helps to decide on priorities for assessment. Use checklist to identify potentially hazardous work activities and then write the details of each one onto the form. As you inspect the workplace, you will probably find matters that should be rectified before completing the assessment (see Table 2).
Table 2. Potentially Hazardous Work Activities
|Department/Unit: Warehouse/Cutting Dept.|
|Warehouse / Cutting Dept: S. Singh|
|Job Ref.||Activity||(No. of Emp.)||Location||Special Hazards|
|W2||Band knife cutting||1||Cutting department||Dangerous equipment|
Schedule of Work Activities
|Hazards||Location||Nature of Control|
|Cutting finger in band knife||Cutting dept.||Using wire gloves|
|Falling hair caught on machine belt||Sewing dept.||Tie hair back|
You must now assess the risks associated with the hazards you have identified. The hazards may have serious consequences without proper control measures. Estimate both the probability and consequences of failures. For each hazard, determine:
- The consequences like minor injury, illness due to injury, disablement due to injury, fatality or multiple fatality, etc.
- How the risk is normally controlled? If the control measures were to fail or deteriorate, then what is the likely outcome and how probable is this?
The risk assessment ranking table will help you to give each hazard a risk ranking. The priority increases with either probability or consequences. The priority is greatest if both ratings are large. Any risk, complex, unusual and difficult to assess may be recorded in the form of Special Assessment.
Job safety information
Appropriate information on the hazards and control measures must be provided to those at risk. The greater the risk, the more detailed the control measures required. First identify the basic site rules for your workplace. Decide which activities are adequately controlled by these rules. Then identify which additional activities are left. Those require specific documentation of the special control measures that must be adopted. Complete a Job Safety Sheet for such activities. Control measures can be grouped into three categories: Physical Safeguards; System of Working; and Personal Protection.
Any engineering control measure provides, for example:
- Barriers and handrails,
- Ventilation systems, and
- Fixed or interlocked guards.
System of working
The arrangement for the conduct of the job, for example:
- Permits procedures for authorization, and
- Requirements to be accompanied or assisted.
The equipment to protect against injuries or ill health, for example:
- Respirators, breathing apparatus, mask,
- Protective clothing, gloves and footwear,
- Eye protection, helmets, bump caps, etc., and
- Finally, tie your hair back!
Any operator must be informed of the risks involved in their job before they start, i.e. during induction training. A list similar to Table 3 can be of help.
Table 3. Rating the Risk Involved in the Job
|A certainty likely to happen at any moment||10|
|Highly probable could occur 2 or 3 times a year||8|
|Likely would expect to happen once a year||6|
|Improbable would not expect to happen in 2-3 years||4|
|Unlikely would not expect to happen in 5 years||2|
Quality controllers of buying companies working in your premises also require Job Safety Information. They are responsible for safe conduct of their work. You are responsible for their safety in work place. In particular, they must be aware of your emergency procedures.
Emergency arrangements are required to respond to situations of serious danger that may arise like fire or bomb threat, serious injury or ill health at work, flooding from rainwater or burst pipes, explosions of electrical items by short circuit, steam boiler, etc. A five-point plan can be applied as a standard framework for emergencies, like:
- Detection: How will an emergency be discovered? Are there automatic detectors?
- Raising the alarm: How will those at risk be alerted? How will assistance be summoned?
- Evacuation: Who all must be evacuated?
- Containment: How will the emergency be prevented from spreading?
- Response: What must be done to regain control? When can people return to work?
For each emergency foreseen, complete an emergency response sheet. An emergency arrangement sheet for sewing room during fire is shown in Table 4.
Table 4. An Emergency Arrangement Sheet for Sewing Room during Fire
|Detection||Automatic smoke detectors Manual glass break points|
|Alarm||Continuous ringing bell & visible intimation by person|
|Evacuation||Via main entrance Through fire exit doors|
|Containment||Use fire extinguishers if possible Switch off electrical connection Close all doors|
|Hazardous substance||Large quality of white petrol present in store|
Maintenance of controls
It is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that appropriate maintenance programes are devised and implemented for different safeguards like:
Fire alarm detection system (statutory inspections); lifts, hoists, generators (statutory inspections); compressor pressure release valve; steam boiler pressure release valve; machine belt guards; and eye protection glass; emergency stop switch in automatic workstation; and helmets, masks, wire gloves.
For each safeguard, determine the maintenance required, the frequency and person who will do the work.
To ensure that all necessary control measures are used and remain effective, there is a need for routine inspection. To decide who will inspect and when the inspection will be made, prepare a checklist similar to Table 5.
Table 5. Routine Inspection Checklist
|LOOK AT||LOOK FOR|
|Access (means of escape)||Fire exit doors free. Fire exit route not obstructed.
Fire doors clearly marked
|Fire Precautions||Fire extinguishers in good conditions at fire points and easily accessible
Fire alarm points readily accessible and clearly marked.
Emergency action details displayed in local language.
|Electrical Safety||Fuseboards/switchgears secured and closed.
Cables free from damage.
Plug tops intact and no loose connection.
|Equipment||Guarding in position and secured.
Emergency stop controls working effectively.
|Lighting||General workplace lighting effective.
Specific task lighting (needlelights) operational
Emergency lighting operational when required.
Windows cleaned effectively.
|Ventilation & Comfort||Adequate in numbers and operational.
Humidity and temperature maintained.
Everyone must be trained in the safety requirements of the work they do. Training must be provided when:
- Starting work for the first time in your area,
- Transferring to other work activities,
- New equipment/methods introduced.
All those who work in your area must know:
- The hazards their work may involve,
- The precautions they must take to ensure safety,
- The emergency arrangements.
A Training Record form should be filled up with all safety training and instruction details as a proof of training and also inventory of workforce.
During your initial hazard survey, record all those matters that require attention in Action List form. For each action, set a target date for completion and update when completed. This form may be used recording new discovery during routine inspection.
Making of the manual is a tedious and cumbersome work but it is worth drafting for an organization. It not only brings transparency and clarity of processes, but also clearly defines responsibility and authority. A well-drafted manual assists in worker-related legal issues. The manual should be drafted by trained professionals, as a poorly drafted manual may lead to damage to the company.