Management of Health and Safety at Work Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2541 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 14  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Engineering

Management of Health and Safety at Work

Work-related health hazards have been observed from ancient times when the early Egyptians started using veils for respiratory protection while mining for cinnabar or red mercury oxide. The harmful effects of the sun were also observed by Arabian laborers working in King Solomon's mines. In the 18th century, Bernardino Ramazzini, also known as "the father of occupational health," published "A Diatribe on Diseases of Workers" where he wrote about various diseases arising as a result of specific trades and proposed that a patient's occupation should form a part of the queries posed by a doctor while analyzing a disease. Later, Donald Hunter and Luigi Parmeggiani also elaborated on occupational health and safety hazards and their various aspects. (Taylor; Easter; Hegney, 46)

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In Australia, the earliest recorded work-related health hazard was in 1840 by a certain Mr. Parkes who worked in a badly ventilated brass foundry in Sydney and suffered from metal fume fever. The rapidly changing technological and economic scenario in Australian industry has brought up several health and safety challenges. (Fleming; Parker, 81) the manufacturing industry had been in a dismal state of affairs since the industrial revolution took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries where workers had to work on dangerous machinery in cramped conditions under poor lighting conditions. However, this sector has changed significantly with considerable inputs from the legal system and the manufacturing engineering sector. (Loosemore; Dainty; Lingard, 17)

TOPIC: Term Paper on Management of Health and Safety at Work Assignment

Various laws have been passed which have had an impact not only on occupational health and safety but also on various engineering disciplines like manufacturing and construction engineering. In the UK, the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act (1802), the Factory Act (1833), and the Factory and Workshop Act (1878) were passed mainly to address concerns of the textile manufacturing sector and later extended to other sectors. This was followed much later by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) which was passed as a result of the Robens Report. (Stranks, 38)

In Australia, several laws like the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), the Industrial Safety, Health and Welfare Act (1981) and the OHSA or Occupational Health and Safety Act (1985) have provided various regulations and codes of practice which have also had an impact not only on everyday engineering practice but also on educating future engineers. The ILO --International Labor Organization has also brought out its "Code of Practice on Safety and Health in the Construction of Fixed Offshore Installations in the Petroleum Industry" and its 1994 meeting which deliberated on the Safety and Health of people working in the electronics industry has influenced work practices in many engineering sectors. (International Labour Organization); (Chiang; Raftery; Anson, 54)

Despite such steps, work related injuries and health hazards continue to plague workers. In Australia, it is estimated that the metal-product manufacturing industry witnesses more than one in ten workers being injured directly as a result of work-related risks. Such injuries include open wounds, fractures, strains and even amputations. (Dept of Commerce: Govt of Australia) One important point to remember here is that occupational health hazards and safety hazards are different. Health hazards refer to those facets of the work atmosphere which result in a gradual, often permanent, cumulative damage to the general health of the worker often resulting in a chronic disease or disability. On the other hand, safety hazards refer to those facets of the work atmosphere which results in an immediate damage or sometimes fatal harm to workers. (Loosemore; Dainty; Lingard, 25)

The responsibility of affording health and safety protection lies not only with employers, employees and suppliers but also with the designers and manufacturers of the machinery. (Dept of Commerce: Govt of Australia) Studies like that conducted by Diane Vaughan on the reasons behind the Challenger disaster have also thrown up various questions about engineering ethics and "fallible engineering judgment in engineering design." (Lynch; Kline, 196)

Any kind of engineered system needs to be probed for potential hazards during its design or operating phases. Design engineers must utilize formal hazard-identification methods to detect hazards during the design phase itself since engineering design is always prone to human error. (Bier; Kunreuther; Phimister, 8) Again it is imperative to remember that designing a safe system is one issue and ensuring the continuous safe performance of the system is a different issue altogether since systems are usually unstable and go through various evolving stages during operation. Since the ultimate production is affected by the systems design approach, it is often advisable to include end users in the design process so as to incorporate their viewpoint and hands-on expertise. (Bucciarelli)

In a particular study conducted on fatal occupational injuries in Australia, it was found that approximately thirty-seven percent of the deaths had occurred due to design-related aspects of equipments, plants or vehicles used at the worksite. Some of the situations included lack of appropriate guarding, faulty equipments, failed hydraulic lifting, seat belt problems, and improper protection mechanisms installed on vehicles and mobile plants. This data clearly suggests that significant stress must be laid on engineering designs of equipments, vehicles and plants so as to minimize hazards. (Driscoll; Harrison; Bradley; Newson, 212) "Tight buildings" where the emission of volatile organic compounds either due to use of synthetic office and building materials or as a result of human activity cause various health concerns for workers have also been studied so as to find ways and means to reduce health risks. (Ellacott; Reed, 347)

The occupational safety and health issues have made such an impact upon various engineering disciplines that dual-degree programs which combine engineering with social sciences or humanities are offered by several universities. According to Louis Bucciarelli of MIT, the engineering core curricula lay stress on the "hard stuff" ignoring the "softer" social aspect. The "object world work" with which an engineer is so immersed in is hard, certain, materialistic, instrumental, and solitary. It is calculative and predetermined on one hand and variable and puzzle-solving on the other. However, external or social influences involving the ambiguous, soft, political, collective, compromising and qualitative aspects are real and part of an engineer's work life but often ignored. (Fleming; Parker, 74)

Managing health and safety at work include three fundamental steps for reducing and eliminating hazards. These include identification of the hazard, assessing the risks and controlling the risks. All the three steps require active consultation between all concerned parties at the site including employers, employees and health and safety representatives. (Dept of Commerce: Govt of Australia)

The manufacturing engineer is also responsible for safety at the workplace. The manufacturing process itself involves routine hazardous processes like machining, electrical work, painting, welding, crane operations, lifting of heavy items, and use of explosives, radiation and robotics. In order to apply health and safety in manufacturing engineering, it is imperative that well-defined workplace safety policies are outlined in the safety manual. These safety policies must be elaborate, well thought-out and the entire plant informed about its various aspects. In order to be effective the management of health and safety has to be a team effort. (Crowson, 330)

The company safety manual must give specific as well as general details about the roles and responsibilities of all employees at every level of the manufacturing unit. There should be in-depth written and unambiguous details about rules, compliant with OSHA laws regarding suitable work clothes, appropriate conduct and behavior at the site, and emergency rules and procedures to be followed in all kinds of potential crisis similar to rules followed during medical emergencies or fire evacuation. A detailed "accident investigation and loss control program" and accident statistics database must be in place in order to study and avert all future accidents. (Crowson, 330)

For example, metal lathes in manufacturing units are known to be potential hazards and any loose clothing, jewelry and even long hair can get entangled in the spinning chuck causing grave injuries. Safety instructions provided on lathes are often inadequate and depend on varying worker behavior. A worker may forget to wear safety glasses with side protection or maybe forget to take out the chuck key before operating the lathe and these failures may prove to be damaging and often fatal. Many industrial practices in Australia are similarly inappropriate despite safety guidelines and therefore, guidelines need to be absolutely precise, accurate and comprehensive. (Schrever)

The safety and health guidelines need to be reviewed and brought up-to-date periodically or as and when new technologies and equipments are introduced. Specialized training must be provided to workers especially where the use of explosive devices, radiation, toxic substances, heavy mechanical lifting equipments, robotics or laser operations are involved. (Crowson, 332)

A number of tools have been developed in various technological areas for identifying potential hazardous situations. For instance, the chemicals process industry uses both formal and informal tools like brainstorming sessions, checklists, failure modes and effects analysis -- FMEA, and HAZOP or hazard and operability studies. Such tools can be used to identify potential hazardous situations not only… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Management of Health and Safety at Work.  (2009, November 15).  Retrieved September 19, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Management of Health and Safety at Work."  15 November 2009.  Web.  19 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Management of Health and Safety at Work."  November 15, 2009.  Accessed September 19, 2021.