Minimizing Risks to Life, Property and Engineering Activities within an Industrial Environment
Risk minimization in an engineering environment is crucial for the safety of the workers, pedestrians, and the structures themselves. In a welding and fabrication company, for example, risks to life and property can be assessed and reduced by careful investigation on how the industry carry out plasma, MIG, gas, TIG, MMA and oxy acetylene cutting. Careless handling of equipment threatens the general populations’ lives either directly or indirectly. To curb the already mentioned challenges, this paper systematically describes the evidence for risk occurrence, implication, protection, mitigation and control standards in terms of regulations and legal compliance of the set guidelines (Bahr, 2014).
Evidence for Risk Existence in a Welding Company
The risks that can lead to destruction of property or loss of lives in a welding and fabrication industry may be evident due to lack of clear regulations to govern operations, absence or less personal protective equipment (PPE), small working space, leaking gases and fumes, mismanagement and poor organizational culture. The presence of the highlighted events put both the industry and her employees at risk. If not well taken care of, fabrication and welding industries have higher likelihood of risks if not carefully mitigated due to operations involving molten metals, flammable gases and liquids, hot work procedures, heat treatments, electrical operations and combustions. Risk occurrences may reoccur in an industry in cases of poor abatement methods, lack of follow up from the responsible institutions, recruitment of unqualified staff, and absence of occupational training among others. Other evidences for risks occurrence include operations at dusk without lights, operating while already fatigued, poor lighting levels, wrong procedures of welding or fabrications, poor working practices, operating under unwanted temperatures for a process, and loud, unfiltered noise levels. The table below shows the data of safety conditions in a working environment.
Elements Risk cause
Noise Exposure to sudden sound, long term sound, sound pressure variations, and high pitch noise.
Moving objects Possibility of being heat by moving objects, exposure to mechanical vibration.
Light levels Low light levels may cause injuries while operating where light is necessary.
Working practices and ethics Working under the influence of substances such as alcohol increase chances of injuries in a workshop due to hallucination.
Elements Time of the day Noise Fatigue Light levels Procedure of operations Work practices and ethics Temperatures
Constraints Between 08:30hrs to 16:00hrs Require filters Never work while fatigued Must be enough to allow sufficient visibility Be sure of the working procedures to reduce injuries Avoid working under the influence of alcohol or drugs Ensure a conducive temperatures for every particular process and storage
Risks Implications and Need to Redesign
One of the risks that endanger the life of the welder is electric shock that results from naked electric wires. Shock can lead to either death or severe injury resulting from a fall due reaction the incident or from the incident itself. Careless mishandling of naked cables and poor insulation methods can accidentally make an operator to enter into a circuit, allowing electricity currents to pass through them (Smith, 2013). When performing welding or any fabrication, operators should be careful not to be in direct contact with the live wire. The common type of shock is due to secondary voltages emanating from an arc welding circuit, ranging from 20-100 volts. The company’s operators should therefore put on dry gloves in perfect condition, never handle electrode or metal part with wet cloth or skin, and ensure to insulate themselves from the ground and work, as well as the metal being welded. Only experienced and qualified personnel should repair and service the welding equipment.
Overexposure to fumes and gases emanating from plasma, MIG, gas, TIG, MMA and oxy acetylene cutting can prove lethal and hazardous to the human health (LaGrega, Buckingham & Evans, 2010). Therefore, prior to any operation in a welding and fabrication environment, it is important to take care of critical mitigation measures. Welding fumes contain dangerous metal oxides from base metal and its coating, and consumables. Therefore, it is vital for welding men to use enough ventilations, keep their heads away from the fumes and use exhaust pipes to regulate the exposure. The operation space needs to be redesigned to allow for enough space for working, sufficient ventilation and placement of exhaust pipes to direct fumes out of the work area. The proper working regalia including the helmets must be put on before entering the workshop.
Another risk implication is property and loss of lives due to fire and other explosions. Extreme temperatures created in the welding arc may cause fire and hazards regarding explosions if best and safe practices are disregarded. Welding arc may heat up to 10,000˚F causing intense heat, spatter and sparks which may reach up to approximately 35 feet radius. During design or redesign to prevent fire and explosions, flammable materials in the form of wood, liquid, gas, paint, paper, gasoline and solid must be disposed away from the area near the arc. For extra security, the company must put fire alarms and full extinguishers. Moreover, the management should ensure an access to sand buckets, fire hoses and other fire dousing equipment, and the nearest location of a fire exit. After completing working in a welding environment, worker should at least stick around for 30 minutes or more to ensure there is no smoldering fire. When welding, ensure that the sparks do not drop on the workers around you. Moreover, since high concentration of dust particles may lead to flash fires or explosion, worker are not to panic but promptly contact the fire department.
Injuries in a fabrication and welding industry may also be due to insufficient PPE. PPE keeps workers away free from injuries for example burns and other common implications such as injuries due to arc rays exposure. PPE needs to be designed in such a way that allows for free movement and at the same time offers protection from welding hazards. The PPE must be made of heavy materials such as leather and flame resistant cotton cloth. PPE includes gloves, helmet, boots, safety goggles and other work attires that do not expose skins (Smith, 2013). To guard ears from noise while operating in a noisy area, workers need to put on hearing protection to protect the ears from damage and prevent debris or metals from getting into the ear canal. The company can offer either ear muffs or ear plugs to protect the ears.
Information on Risks in an Industry for Protection of others
Every industry employs regulations regarding risks. In an engineering oriented industry, risks mitigation is either governed by internal or external policies. Both the policies advocate for workers’ safety. Every employee must follow the safety codes and rules set by the concerned institution, failure to which legal consequences follow. To ensure property and life protection, the industry must organize for occupational safety training for new recruits. During the training, the new employees gain knowledge on how to handle hazardous waste, use PPE, prevent or protect accidents using the necessary equipment, and communication of danger in case of occurrence (Lundgren & McMakin, 2013). Industrial rules to abate disasters must define the dos and the don’ts of operations. Usually, the rules are patched at the work entry where all the technical staff will be at a position to see them. The rules include putting on of the proper workshop attire, labeling of substances, ergonomic procedures and work relations (Karwowski, 2005). Safety data sheets for all hazardous materials and substances must be used for reference, storage and operations to minimize danger to both life and property. SDS assists users to derive risk assessment and they are not by themselves risk assessments. They are sufficient to advise workers on the good control culture. Hazard identifications may be from the use of precautionary statements, hazard description that may have not been classified, unknown toxicity included in a substance ingredient, use of pictograms such as skull with cross bone, signal word, categorizing liquids such as flammable, and other hazard statements (LaGrega, Buckingham & Evans, 2010). Finally, clear working procedure is essential to help in hazard protection.
Risks emanating from flammable substances may be minimized by employing the following considerations and practices. First, it is significant that explosion and fire hazards are identified, controlled, maintained and regularly inspected to confirm the effectiveness of the control measures. These risks can be reduced by using appropriate storage, use, spill handling and disposal methods, complying with the instructions from the manufacturer, minimizing the use of flammables, installing the no smoking signs near flammable storages, using the right ventilation levels, ensuring the use of SDS guidance and finally training the staffs on proper hazard mitigation measures (LaGrega, Buckingham & Evans, 2010).
Risks from molten metals may damage property and other equipment. They may also lead to explosions of combustibles in the vicinity through spillages. To minimize such risks, proper procedures of housekeeping are essential to ensure the vicinity is clear. Moreover, the facilities should be made with pits that collect such metals. In addition, regular furnace inner lining maintenance will reduce such risks. Finally, suppression systems around the area should involve carbon dioxide rather than water.
Heat treatment may also cause fire explosions as a result of overheating. In order to minimize such risks the industry should regularly inspect and maintain the heat treatment tanks. To reduce the risks of such devastations, the industry should use the oil quench containers, containing high flash levels which do not easily ignite. In addition, carbon dioxide fire suppressors are needed to reduce the risks (Manuele, 2013).
To address the risks from combustible dusts and metals, the industry needs to use the explosion venting system, dust collectors and extinguishing agents for class D metals. Moreover, automatic remote signaling and fire detectors should be utilized. Other methods to minimize fire risks are availability of experienced fire teams with modern extinguishers, proper housekeeping, restricted access to and physical barriers to storage areas, and the use of mobile patrols and site guards to protect the risky zones.
Risks that may endanger a person’s health and safety can be minimized through employing the following. To prevent a person from noise, noise anti-vibration, silencers, or ear masks should be put on. Also, to protect workers from hazardous substances, fumes and gases, the industry organization should conduct air sampling, install dust collection systems, allow proper ventilations at the working room, perform biological monitoring, encourage the use of PPE and issue written guidelines to employees (Manuele, 2013). In a most workshops, to reduce the risks on human health and life in general, industries do job rotation, ergonomic material handing training, use of mechanical lifting systems, surveillance and health screening, use of non-slip surfaces, appropriate lighting concentration for tasks at hand, production schedules and competency matrix for material use among others (Karwowski, 2005).
The company ensures the risk minimization measures and control by defining standards, rules, management policies, workers responsibility, input from trade unions, safety committees and proper communication channel. Communication approach can either be through formal or informal channels. Employees need to communicate any risky incident to the responsible office to enhance implementation of proper risk mitigation. Employers can also communicate the need of training to the occupational safety authorities so that employees can be trained on the proper safety measures and regulations within an industry (Lundgren & McMakin, 2013). Industrial management policy should define the roles of employees, senior management, and safety committee and employee representatives. The management policy must enforce and maintain the safe systems of working, and prevent contractors, employees, and visitors’ exposure to unnecessary risks. The management should provide necessary PPE, work procedures, and ensure availability of SDS. In U.S, OSHA is one of the institutions that ensure safety measures are implemented within any organization (Connolly & Crowell, 2015).
The industry complies with the mandatory regulations of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act which ensure safety through hazard identification (HAZID) as well as risk management. According to these regulations, the company is responsible for risk mitigation to ensure the employees and the general public safety. Fabrication and welding industries must adhere to these acts that define the duties of employers. It is the work of employers to ensure employees and anyone within the premises are safeguarded from injuries and other forms of risks. Casual workers, clients, visitors, self-employed and the general public must be safe (Smith, 2013). These regulations encourage working together to mitigate risks. In compliance to the waste disposal act, the company is required to report the tip area, the chemical composition nature of waste, the waste quantity, et cetera. Industrial effluences require purification whereas pollution offences are fined by the bills that regard the public safety. Another major institution for voicing the employees’ safety is institution of occupational safety and health (IOSH). Other guidelines and regulations to safeguard compliancy to safety measures are set by the industry management. The regulations define fire teams and assembly points, safety committee development, and workshop rules.
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