An Occupational Health Risk Assessment is a process in which potential health hazards are identified and the extent of the exposure is quantified. The results are then compared to legislative standards in order to assess compliance and the efficacy of the existing control measures. Based on the above, recommendations are then formulated, stipulating how legislative compliance can be (or is being) achieved.
The following risk assessments are offered by APEX ENVIRONMENTAL under the auspices of Occupational Health:
A noise survey is done to measure the noise levels that employees are exposed to and assess the potential health risk to employees in terms of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) Regulations, 2003. Noise surveys are done to establish compliance with governmental and other relevant exposure limits and to offer solutions to reduce employee exposure where necessary.
Health Effects Associated with Noise Exposure are:
- Temporary or Permanent Hearing Loss
- Employees may develop Tinnitus which causes a ringing or buzzing noise in their ears
- Excessive noise can be a hazard in the work environment as employees cannot communicate properly
Employer’s Legal Responsibilities: In South Africa the criterion for reducing the risk of hearing damage is based on limiting the exposure to an 8 hour rating level (Lreq8h) of 85dB (A). The Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Regulations, 2003, requires employers to prevent or reduce risks to the health and safety of their employer’s from exposure to noise at work.
This regulation requires employers to:
- Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work
- Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks
- Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods
- Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
- Provide your employees with information, instruction and training
- Carry out a health surveillance assessment
For more information on Noise Regulations and requirements go to: www.hse.gov.uk
A thermal stress risk is done to determine the heat stress levels or cold stress levels existing throughout the workplace and to identify potential health hazards in respect of the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, Sub-Regulation 2 (Thermal Requirements) framed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 (Act No 85 of 1993).
Heat Stress – Heat stress is generally caused by a combination of air temperature, radiant heat, airflow and humidity. When any one of these factors can be controlled, the heat stress will decrease. If these conditions are not monitored correctly employees may be exposed to:
- Heat Stroke
- Poor concentration & Fatigue
Cold Stress – The cooling of the whole body or parts of the body results in discomfort, impaired sensory and neuromuscular function, and ultimately, cold injury. If employees are not protected from cold stress they could be exposed to:
- Skin sensation and discomfort
- Impaired mental function
It is important that all employees, in all work areas, are provided with training and information relating to heat stress and are supplied with and encouraged to drink water regularly. Similarly, those employees accessing cold areas should be given specific training regarding the dangers and actions to be taken when working in cold environments. For more information on Thermal Stress go to: www.hse.gov.uk
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Lighting Assessments and Monitoring
Good lighting is essential in all buildings to promote work or other activities that are being performed. Sufficient lighting in the workplace will contribute towards the safety and well being of every worker. Poor lighting could create an unpleasant environment and can also increase the risk of accidents. Therefore, employees need to provide a pleasant and safe work environment as per the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, Regulation 3 (Lighting) and the Lighting Schedule.
Health Effects Associated with Inadequate Lighting are:
- Increase the risk of accidents within the workplace
- Decrease in productivity as employees find it hard to see
- Eye strain
- Visual Fatigue
Employer’s Legal Responsibilities:
- Train employees on how to adjust lighting in their jobs
- Install a lighting maintenance program
- Assess lighting levels in the work environment on a regular basis
- Conduct a lighting survey to determine illumination levels existing within the building
Note: The importance of continuing the lighting maintenance program cannot be overemphasized. Lighting systems can only function effectively when they are well maintained. Poor maintenance reduces the usable light and can thus reduce production, increase costs and lead to visual fatigue. For more information on Lighting requirements go to: www.hse.gov.uk
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Hazardous Chemical Substances Risk Assessments
HSC or “hazardous chemical substance” is identified as any toxic, harmful, corrosive, irritant or asphyxiant substance, or a mixture of such substances in the workplace. A Chemical Risk Assessment will help employers to identify and manage the risk from chemical exposure, as per the Regulations for Hazardous Chemical Substances, 1995, Regulation 5.
Employers Legal Responsibilities are:
- Assess to which HCS an employee may be exposed and what effects this may have on the employee.
- Ensure that all employees are adequately informed and trained on how to manage chemical substances.
- Provide medical surveillance for all workers exposed to chemicals.
- Install a safe working procedure regarding the use, handling, storage and labelling of the Hazardous Chemical Substances in the workplace.
- Train employees on the procedures to follow in the event of spillages, leakages or any other emergency situation.
- Training for employees on the correct use of HCS.
Employee’s Responsibilities are:
- Employees must be aware of the potential risks to their health caused by chemical exposure.
- Employees need to take precautions to protect themselves against the health risks associated with chemical exposure, by wearing protective clothing and respiratory protective equipment.
- Employees must accept training on the necessity of correct use and maintenance of safety equipment.
- Follow safety precautions and procedures while handling HCS.
For more information on Hazardous Chemical Substances go to: www.hse.gov.uk
|Illustration shows a device which is worn over at least the mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of airborne hazardous chemical substances.||Respiratory Protective Equipment must be provided to workers being exposed to chemicals.|