Manufacturing processes often expose workers to toxic fumes in the workplace. For example, vehicle manufacturing and fuel unearthing processes can expose employees to various chemical vapors as a part of their daily work. OSHA requires employers to provide safety training and equipment to workers. OSHA rules and regulations are designed to protect workers from toxic exposures.
Toxic fumes can cause a wide variety of work-related injuries and diseases, including urinary tract cancer, lung cancer, kidney damage, respiratory disease, and nervous system disorders. To help keep workers safe from these and other hazards, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has put certain rules and regulations in place. The administration requires employers to provide sufficient training and equipment to help protect against toxic chemicals in workplaces where they’re often produced.
Toxic fumes continue to be a problem in many workplaces, despite OSHA’s efforts. Earlier this year, one Iowa worker was overcome by fumes while working at a food packaging manufacturing plant.
To prevent factory accidents like this, OSHA put into place Hazard Communication Standards (HCS) that require employers to collect and disseminate data about the various hazards and identities of chemicals that put their workers at risk. Under these standards, chemical manufacturers and importers also must prepare labels and safety information that properly communicate information about the hazards their products present to end consumers.
Additionally, employers with employees who work in environments that contribute to toxic fume exposure need to identify and assess these hazards, ensuring that they don’t go over the Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs). They also need to provide free respiratory protective equipment to all employees, along with sufficient education and training around their proper use.
Several occupations put workers at risk more than others for toxic fume exposure. For instance, oil and gas workers may encounter airborne silica while performing hydraulic fracturing processes, which can lead to lung diseases and other respiratory issues. Hairdressers may also breathe in toxic hair products that cause lung problems over time. Healthcare workers also frequently gain exposure to biological agents and other dangerous substances that may lead to infections.
The risks of toxic fumes make it necessary for employers and employees to adhere to OSHA rules and regulations around these fumes in the workplace, which can keep them safer and healthier.
Teams should implement a variety of safety measures to help save lives and keep workers safe during trenching projects. Trenching is vital for many construction projects. It involves digging into dirt to form a narrow passage for workers and equipment. Trenching can be dangerous like other aspects of a construction project. Cave-ins and collapses often leave injuries and death in their paths.
The following are safety tips to help protect teams while trenching.
The right protective systems will keep workers protected from potential construction accidents involving cave-ins, which are often fatal. Generally, protective systems are necessary for trenches that are deeper than five feet, and professional engineers must design these systems for trenches deeper than 20 feet.
One common type of system used is shoring. This system consists of timber, hydraulic systems, or mechanical components to keep the trench walls from caving in. Additionally, sloping and benching are often used to create an angled slope and/or steps to travel up and down the trench wall. Trench shields are also used to shield workers from debris in the event of a collapse.
To help minimize the risk of cave-ins and collapses, professionals must routinely inspect the trench. Inspections should be performed before work begins and repeatedly throughout the day as work takes place.
It’s also important to inspect the trench following any type of natural event such as a storm. If any other work takes place such as blasting, inspection will be required again.
Upon inspection, if any issues are discovered with the integrity of the trench, safety measures must be in place before work in the trench can resume.
If a trench is deeper than four feet in a potentially hazardous atmosphere, atmospheric testing will be required. Testing can detect dangerous levels of oxygen deficiency along with the presence of methane or other dangerous gases.
If a test finds that hazards are present, employers will need to supply workers with protective gear such as basket stretchers and breathing devices.
These are some of the many ways in which employers and workers can create a safe trenching environment. With the right safety measures in place, employees can avoid work-related injuries and deaths.
Developments in construction worker safety wearables have been helping to keep employers safer and bring them home. With the many risks associated with construction projects and sites, organizations such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have worked to implement policies and encourage the use of safety gear, including wearable devices using innovative technology. As a result, advances have been made to help protect construction workers from serious injuries.
The following are some of the specific construction safety wearables that may be the key to keeping construction workers safe.
Smartwatches are becoming increasingly popular among regular consumers and seeing increased use among construction workers. Construction workers can use smartwatches such as Apple Watches and FitBits to perform several tasks.
For instance, construction workers can monitor their daily health and activity to determine if they’re experiencing overexertion. Additionally, they can detect falls and automatically alert emergency or site personnel in the event of an accidental fall. Construction sites often require the use of hands-free devices for communication. These are available in the form of smartwatches with hands-free communication capabilities.
In addition to smartwatches, smart hard hats can help keep construction workers safe. Although hard hats have already helped prevent many work-related injuries, innovative technologies are enhancing them with new capabilities. Sensors within hard hats can help monitor workers and keep them fully functioning on the job.
Through the use of a sensor, hard hats will be able to detect fatigue in the wearer and indicate when it’s time to go on break. In addition, the hard hat will be able to detect microsleeps before they occur, preventing workers from falling asleep on the job. Proximity sensing will also detect workers, equipment, and pedestrians nearby to help prevent collisions.
While these technologies are still in development, they’re likely to be deployed in the near future.
Some construction wearables include gear that construction workers can wear all over the body. Using these wearables and powerful sensors, bodywear would be able to track heat and let workers know when to take a break out of the sun or consume water to prevent dehydration. Other sensors could detect dangerous gases and alert workers to protect them from exposure. Some “exoskeleton” technologies would also help prevent workers from experiencing muscle fatigue when handling tools or lifting heavy items.
Construction workers’ boots are about to become a lot more capable with the introduction of new developments. Using wearable technology, boots can detect pressure and location in several ways.
For example, sensors in the sole of the boot would be able to detect certain shocks or falls and immediately notify site managers or emergency services. These boots would also be able to track the worker’s location with unmatched precision and accuracy, which can help site managers keep track of all workers and alert workers if they’re in unsafe areas. Built-in charging could also enable these smart boots to charge themselves as workers move in them, eliminating the need to recharge them at any point throughout a shift.
Augmented reality is making waves in many industries and for the average consumer, but it’s also quickly becoming an invaluable asset for construction workers. Smart glasses with AR technology would be able to overlay digital information in real-world settings, essentially enhancing reality with more data. These goggles would, in turn, not only provide physical protection but would also be able to keep workers more aware of their surroundings in the workplace.
One advantage of using smart glasses in construction sites would be to detect leading edges, which could help prevent falls by alerting workers when they’re close to a ledge. These goggles could also detect certain hazardous materials and visually alert the user of them. Managers could even upload safety protocols for workers to follow, as the goggles remind them of specific protocols based on the equipment they’re using or their location.
Through the use of these and other possible developments in safety wearables, construction workers can more effectively avoid construction accidents. With innovations that provide alerts when workers are in danger along with notification of certain personnel, workers can benefit from an overall safer work environment. Subsequently, construction-related accidents are likely to see a notable decrease in the coming years as technology assists these workers.
However, while these technologies are on the way and can help protect employees and pedestrians, managers will still need to do what they can to create a generally safer workspace with the right protocols and physical safety gear. When these technologies roll out, they’ll be able to supplement employers’ efforts.