Case: Unexpected gas
In this case study, a man dies from an explosion while another worker attempts to cut through the top of one of the two old steel drums with a handheld grinder. Both barrels contained an uncleaned fruit concentrate. During the event, the sparks from the grinder ignited hydrogen gas from the contents residue after standing for many years. Due to the defective sterile coating that separated the walls of the drum from the concentrate, the acid in the fruit concentrate reacted with the metal drum and formed hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas then accumulated and caused the drum ends to bulge due to pressure. The deformation therefore made it possible to open the drum in order to displace the remaining gas, while the other attempted to open it with a grinder. On that event, sparks ignited the hydrogen gas, caused an explosion and fire. Though the fire was distinguished, one worker died. This case study looks at the steps to ensure that the event was never repeated (P.L & J.L, 1985).
Risks exist in every workplace in various forms such as falling objects, sharp edges, chemicals, noise and flying sparks and a many other potentially dangerous situations. Controlling a risk at its source is the best way to protect employees. Depending on the workplace hazard conditions, Occupational safety and health administration recommends the use of work practice or engineering controls to manage or to eliminate risks.
For instance, building a barrier between the risk and the employees is one engineering control. Also, the implementation of change in the way in performance of the employees is a work practice control (Roelofs, 2007).
During engineering, administrative and work practice controls may not be realistic or do not offer sufficient protection. Therefore, employers must also provide personal protective equipment known as PPE.PPE refers to the equipment worn to reduce exposure to various hazards. Examples of PPE include such items as foot and eye protection, gloves, protective hearing devices such as hard hats, full body suits, and respirators. Most importantly, the employers need to understand the following basics on the PPE;
- The types of PPE
- The basics required to conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace
- The kind of training required for the proper care and use of PPE
- Selection of an appropriate PPE for various circumstances
In order to ensure the greatest possible employees protection in the workplace, the cooperative efforts of both employers and employees help in the establishment and maintenance of a safe and healthful work environment (P.L & J.L, 1985). Employer’s responsibilities are:
- Performance of a hazard assessment of the workplace to identify and control health and physical hazards
- Identification and provision of the appropriate PPE for employees
- Maintenance of the PPE and replacement of worn or damaged PPE
- Periodical review, update and evaluation of the efficiency of the PPE program
- Attendance of the training sessions on PPE
On the other hand, the employees need an environment that is conducive free from any work health problems such as work-related asthma. Before consideration of the specific aspects of WRA, it is helpful to review some characteristics of general asthma, because the majority of patients with WRA initially presents to their physician with asthmatic signs. In essence, WRA includes occupational asthma induced by sensitizer or irritant work exposures and concurrent or asthma worsened by work factors. In conclusion, the substantial prevalence of work-related asthma supports consideration of diagnosis followed by intervention that includes intervention of other exposed workers (Roelofs, 2007).
P.L, W., & J.L, B. (1985). Industrial toxicology. Safety and health applications in the workplace. Boston, MA: Kent Publishing Co.
Roelofs, C. ( 2007). Preventing Hazards at the Source. Salt Lake : AIHA.