General health and safety at work

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Published Date:03-08-2017
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1 General health and safety (engineering) When you have read this chapter you should understand: • The statutory requirements for general health and safety at work. • Accident and first aid procedures. • Fire precautions and procedures. • Protective clothing and equipment. • Correct manual lifting and carrying techniques. • How to use lifting equipment. • Safe working practices. 1.1 Health, safety and 1.1.1 Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act the law It is essential to observe safe working practices not only to safeguard yourself, but also to safeguard the people with whom you work. The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act provides a comprehensive and inte- grated system of law for dealing with the health, safety and welfare of workpeople and the general public as affected by industrial, commercial and associated activities. The Act places the responsibility for safe working equally upon: • the employer; • the employee (that means you); • the manufacturers and suppliers of materials, goods, equipment and machinery. 1.1.2 Health and Safety Commission The Act provides for a full-time, independent chairman and between six and nine part-time commissioners. The commissioners are made up of three trade union members appointed by the TUC, three management members appointed by the CBI, two local authority members, and one independent member. The commission has taken over the responsibility previously held by various government departments for the control of most occupational health and safety matters. The commission is also responsible for the organization and functioning of the Health and Safety Executive.2 Engineering Fundamentals 1.1.3 Health and Safety Executive The inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have very wide powers. Should an inspector find a contravention of one of the provisions of earlier Acts or Regulations still in force, or a contravention of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act, the inspector has three possible lines of action available. Prohibition Notice If there is a risk of serious personal injury, the inspector can issue a Prohibition Notice. This immediately stops the activity that is giving rise to the risk until the remedial action specified in the notice has been taken to the inspector’s satisfaction. The prohibition notice can be served upon the person undertaking the dangerous activity, or it can be served upon the person in control of the activity at the time the notice is served. Improvement Notice If there is a legal contravention of any of the relevant statutory provisions, the inspector can issue an Improvement Notice. This notice requires the infringement to be remedied within a specified time. It can be served on any person on whom the responsibilities are placed. The latter person can be an employer, employee or a supplier of equipment or materials. Prosecution In addition to serving a Prohibition Notice or an Improvement Notice, the inspector can prosecute any person (including an employee – you) con- travening a relevant statutory provision. Finally the inspector can seize, render harmless or destroy any substance or article which the inspector considers to be the cause of imminent danger or personal injury. Thus every employee must be a fit and trained person capable of carrying out his or her assigned task properly and safely. Trainees must work under the supervision of a suitably trained, experienced worker or instructor. By law, every employee must: • Obey all the safety rules and regulations of his or her place of employment. • Understand and use, as instructed, the safety practices incorporated in particular activities or tasks. • Not proceed with his or her task if any safety requirement is not thoroughly understood; guidance must be sought. • Keep his or her working area tidy and maintain his or her tools in good condition. • Draw the attention of his or her immediate supervisor or the safety officer to any potential hazard.General health and safety (engineering) 3 • Report all accidents or incidents (even if injury does not result from the incident) to the responsible person. • Understand emergency procedures in the event of an accident or an alarm. • Understand how to give the alarm in the event of an accident or an incident such as fire. • Co-operate promptly with the senior person in charge in the event of an accident or an incident such as fire. Therefore, safety, health and welfare are very personal matters for a young worker, such as yourself, who is just entering the engineering industry. This chapter sets out to identify the main hazards and suggests how they may be avoided. Factory life, and particularly engineering, is potentially dangerous and you must take a positive approach towards safety, health and welfare. 1.1.4 Further legislation and regulations concerning safety In addition to the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act, the following are examples of legislation and regulations that also control the conditions under which you work and the way in which you work (behaviour). • Factories Act 1961 • Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 • Notification of Accidents and General Occurrences Regulations 1980 • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 • Protection of Eyes Regulations 1974 • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 • Low Voltage Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1989. This includes voltage ranges of 50 volts to 1000 volts (AC) and 75 volts to 1500 volts (DC) • Abrasive Wheels Regulations 1970 • Noise at Work Regulations 1989 You are not expected to have a detailed knowledge of all this legislation, but you are expected to know of its existence, the main topic areas that it covers, and how it affects your working conditions, your responsibil- ities, and the way in which you work. There are many other laws and regulations that you will come across depending upon the branch of the engineering industry in which you work. 1.2 Employers’ All employers must, by law, maintain a safe place to work. To fulfil all responsibilities the legal obligations imposed upon them, employers must ensure that:4 Engineering Fundamentals • The workplace must be provided with a safe means of access and exit so that in the case of an emergency (such as fire) no one will be trapped. This is particularly important when the workplace is not at ground level. Pedestrian access and exits should be segregated from lorries delivering materials or collecting finished work. The premises must be kept in good repair. Worn floor coverings and stair treads are a major source of serious falls. • All plant and equipment must be safe so that it complies with the Machinery Directive. It must be correctly installed and properly main- tained. The plant and any associated cutters and tools must also be properly guarded. • Working practices and systems are safe and that, where necessary, protective clothing is provided. • A safe, healthy and comfortable working environment is provided, and that the temperature and humidity is maintained at the correct levels for the work being undertaken. • There is an adequate supply of fresh air, and that fumes and dust are either eliminated altogether or are reduced to an acceptable and safe level. • There is adequate and suitable natural and artificial lighting, particu- larly over stairways. • There is adequate and convenient provision for washing and sanitation. • There are adequate first aid facilities under the supervision of a quali- fied person. This can range from a first aid box under the supervision of a person trained in basic first aid procedures for a small firm, to a full scale ambulance room staffed by professionally qualified medical personnel in a large firm. • Provision is made for the safe handling, storing, siting, and transporta- tion of raw materials, work in progress and finished goods awaiting delivery. • Provision for the safe handling, storing, siting, transportation and use of dangerous substances such as compressed gases (e.g. oxygen and acetylene), and toxic and flammable solvents. • There is a correct and legal system for the reporting of accidents and the logging of such accidents in the accident register. • There is a company policy for adequate instruction, training and super- vision of employees. This must not only be concerned with safety procedures but also with good working practices. Such instruction and training to be updated at regular intervals. • There is a safety policy in force. This safety policy must be subject to regular review. One of the more important innovations of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act is contained in section 2(4) which pro- vides for the appointment of safety representatives from amongst the employees, who will represent them in consultation with the employ- ers, and have other prescribed functions.General health and safety (engineering) 5 • Where an employer receives a written request from at least two safety representatives to form a safety committee the employer shall, after consulting with the applicants and representatives of other recognized unions (if applicable) whose members work in the workplace con- cerned, establish a safety committee within the period of three months after the request. The employer must post a notice of the composition of the committee and the workplaces covered. The notice must be positioned where it may be easily read by the employees concerned. • Membership of the safety committee should be settled by consultation. The number of management representatives should not exceed the number of safety representatives. Where a company doctor, industrial hygienist or safety officer/adviser is employed they should be ex- officio members of the committee. • Management representation should be aimed at ensuring the necessary knowledge and expertise to provide accurate information on company policy, production needs and technical matters in relation to premises, processes, plant, machinery and equipment. 1.3 Employees’ All employees (including you) are as equally responsible for safety as are responsibilities their employers. Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act, employ- ees are expected to take reasonable care for their own health and safety together with the health and safety of other people with whom they work, and members of the public who are affected by the work being performed. Further, the misuse of, or interference with, equipment provided by an employer for health and safety purposes is a criminal offence. It is up to all workers to develop a sense of safety awareness by following the example set by their instructors. Regrettably not all older workers observe the safety regulations as closely as they should. Take care who you choose for your ‘role model’. The basic requirements for safe working are to: • Learn the safe way of doing each task. This is usually the correct way. • Use the safe way of carrying out the task in practice. • Ask for instruction if you do not understand a task or have not received previous instruction. • Be constantly on your guard against careless actions by yourself or by others. • Practise good housekeeping at all times. • Co-operate promptly in the event of an accident or a fire. • Report all accidents to your instructor or supervisor. • Draw your instructor’s or your supervisor’s attention to any potential hazard you have noticed.6 Engineering Fundamentals 1.4 Electrical hazards The most common causes of electrical shock are shown in Fig. 1.1. The installation and maintenance of electrical equipment must be carried out only by a fully trained and registered electrician. The installation and equipment must conform to international standards and regulations as laid down in safety legislation and the codes of practice and regulations published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). Figure 1.1 Causes of electric shock An electric shock from a 240 volt single-phase supply (lighting and office equipment) or a 415 volt three-phase supply (most factory machines) can easily kill you. Even if the shock is not sufficiently severe to cause death, it can still cause serious injury. The sudden convulsion caused by the shock can throw you from a ladder or against moving machinery. To reduce the risk of shock, all electrical equipment should be earthed or double insulated. Further, portable power tools should be fed from a low-voltage transformer at 110 volts. The power tool must be suitable for operating at such a voltage. The transformer itself should be protected by a circuit breaker containing a residual current detector. The fuses and circuit breakers designed to protect the supply circuitry to the transformer react too slowly to protect the user from electric shock. The electrical supply to a portable power tool should, therefore, be pro- tected by a residual current detector (RCD). Such a device compares the magnitudes of the current flowing in the live and neutral conductors sup- plying the tool. Any leakage to earth through the body of the user or by any other route will upset the balance between these two currents. This results in the supply being immediately disconnected. The sensitivity of residual current detectors is such that a difference of only a few mil- liamperes is sufficient to cut off the supply and the time delay is only a few microseconds. Such a small current applied for such a short time is not dangerous. In the event of rendering first aid to the victim of electrical shock, great care must be taken when pulling the victim clear of the fault which caused the shock. The victim can act as a conductor and thus, in turn,General health and safety (engineering) 7 electrocute the rescuer. If the supply cannot be quickly and completely disconnected, always pull the victim clear by his or her clothing which, if dry, will act as an insulator. If in doubt, hold the victim with a plastic bag or cloth known to be dry. Never touch the victim’s bare flesh until the victim is clear of the electrical fault. Artificial respiration must be started immediately the victim has been pulled clear of the fault or the live conductor. 1.5 Fire fighting Fire fighting is a highly skilled operation and most medium and large firms have properly trained teams who can contain the fire locally until the professional brigade arrives. The best way you can help is to learn the correct fire drill, both how to give the alarm and how to leave the building. It requires only one person to panic and run in the wrong direction to cause a disaster. In an emergency never lose your head and panic. Smoke is the main cause of panic. It spreads quickly through a build- ing, reducing visibility and increasing the risk of falls down stairways. It causes choking and even death by asphyxiation. Smoke is less dense near the floor: as a last resort crawl. To reduce the spread of smoke and fire, keep fire doors closed at all times but never locked. The plastic materials used in the finishes and furnishings of modern buildings give off highly toxic fumes. Therefore it is best to leave the building as quickly as poss- ible and leave the fire fighting to the professionals who have breathing apparatus. Saving human life is more important than saving property. If you do have to fight a fire there are some basic rules to remember. A fire is the rapid oxidation (burning) of flammable materials at relatively high temperatures. Figure 1.2 shows that removing the air (oxygen), or the flammable materials (fuel), or lowering the temperature will result in the fire ceasing to burn. It will go out. It can also be seen from Fig. 1.2 that different fires require to be dealt with in different ways. Oxygen Heat Fuel The 3 essentials to start a fire Remove heat Remove oxygen Remove fuel Note: Once the fire has started When solids are Liquids, such as petrol Electrical or gas fires it produces sufficient heat to on fire remove etc. on fire can be can usually be extinguished maintain its own combustion heat by applying extinguished by removing by turning off the reactions and sufficient surplus water oxygen with a foam or supply of energy heat to spread the fire dry powder extinguisher Figure 1.2 How to remove each of the three items necessary to start a fire. (Note: Once the fire has started it produces sufficient heat to maintain its own combustion reaction and sufficient surplus heat to spread the fire)8 Engineering Fundamentals 1.5.1 Fire extinguishers The normally available fire extinguishers and the types of fire they can be used for are as follows. Water Used in large quantities water reduces the temperature and puts out the fire. The steam generated also helps to smother the flames as it displaces the air and therefore the oxygen essential to the burning process. However, for various technical reasons, water should be used only on burning solids such as wood, paper and some plastics. A typical hose point and a typical pressurized water extinguisher is shown in Fig. 1.3. Figure 1.3 Hose point (a) and pressurized water extinguisher (b) Foam extinguishers These are used for fighting oil and chemical fires. The foam smothers the flames and prevents the oxygen in the air from reaching the burning materials at the seat of the fire. Water alone cannot be used because oil floats on the water and this spreads the area of the fire. A typical foam extinguisher is shown in Fig. 1.4(a). Note: Since both water and foam are electrically conductive, do not use them on fires associated with electrical equipment or the person wielding the hose or the extinguisher will be electrocuted. Carbon dioxide (CO ) extinguishers 2 These are used on burning gases and vapours. They can also be used for Figure 1.4 Fire extinguishers: oil and chemical fires in confined places. The carbon dioxide gas replaces (a) foam; (b) CO ; (c) vapori- the air and smothers the fire. It can be used only in confined places, where 2 it cannot be displaced by draughts. zing liquid; (d) dry powderGeneral health and safety (engineering) 9 Note: If the fire cannot breathe neither can you, so care must be taken to evacuate all living creatures from the vicinity before operating the extinguisher. Back away from the bubble of CO gas as you operate the 2 extinguisher, do not advance towards it. Figure 1.4(b) shows a typical CO extinguisher. 2 Vaporizing liquid extinguishers These include CTC, CBM and BCF extinguishers. The heat from the fire causes rapid vaporization of the liquid sprayed from the extinguisher and this vapour displaces the air and smothers the fire. Since a small amount of liquid produces a very large amount of vapour, this is a very efficient way of producing the blanketing vapour. Any vapour that will smother the fire will also smother all living creatures which must be evacuated before using such extinguishers. As with CO extinguishers always back 2 away from the bubble of vapour, never advance into it. Vaporizing liquid extinguishers are suitable for oil, gas, vapour and chemical fires. Like CO extinguishers, vaporizing liquid extinguishers are safe to use on fires 2 associated with electrical equipment. A typical example of a vaporizing liquid extinguisher is shown in Fig. 1.4(c). Dry powder extinguishers These are suitable for small fires involving flammable liquids and small quantities of solids such as paper. They are also useful for fires in electrical equipment, offices and kitchens since the powder is not only non-toxic, it can be easily removed by vacuum cleaning and there is no residual mess. The active ingredient is powdered sodium bicarbonate (baking powder) which gives off carbon dioxide when heated. A typical example of a dry powder extinguisher is shown in Fig. 1.4(d). 1.5.2 General rules governing the use of portable extinguishers • Since fire spreads quickly, a speedy attack is essential if the fire is to be contained. • Sound the alarm immediately the fire is discovered. • Send for assistance before attempting to fight the fire. • Remember (a) Extinguishers are provided to fight only small fires. (b) Take up a position between the fire and the exit, so that your escape cannot be cut off. (c) Do not continue to fight the fire if (i) it is dangerous to do so (ii) there is any possibility of your escape route being cut off by fire, smoke, or collapse of the building10 Engineering Fundamentals (iii) the fire spreads despite your efforts (iv) toxic fumes are being generated by the burning of plastic furnishings and finishes (v) there are gas cylinders or explosive substances in the vicin- ity of the fire. If you have to withdraw, close windows and doors behind you wherever possible, but not if such actions endanger your escape. Finally, ensure that all extinguishers are recharged immediately after use. 1.6 Fire precautions and 1.6.1 Fire precautions prevention It is the responsibility of employers and their senior management (duty of care) to ensure the safety of their employees in the event of fire. The following precautions should be taken. • Ensure ease of exit from the premises at all times – emergency exits must not be locked or obstructed. • Easy access for fire appliances from the local brigade. • Regular inspection of the plant, premises and processes by the local authority fire brigade’s fire prevention officer. No new plant or pro- cesses involving flammable substances should be used without prior notification and inspection by the fire prevention officer. • The above point also applies to the company’s insurance inspector. • Regular and frequent fire drills must be carried out and a log kept of such drills including the time taken to evacuate the premises. A roll call of all persons present should be taken immediately the evacuation is complete. A meeting of the safety committee should be called as soon as possible after a fire drill to discuss any problems, improve procedures and to learn lessons from the exercise. 1.6.2 Fire prevention Prevention is always better than cure, and fire prevention is always better than fire fighting. Tidiness is of paramount importance in reducing the possibility of outbreaks of fire. Fires have small beginnings and it is usually amongst accumulated rubbish that many fires originate. So you should make a practice of constantly removing rubbish, shavings, off- cuts, cans, bottles, waste paper, oily rags, and other unwanted materials to a safe place at regular intervals. Discarded foam plastic packing is not only highly flammable, but gives off highly dangerous toxic fumes when burnt. Highly flammable materials should be stored in specially designed and equipped compounds away from the main working areas. Only minimum quantities of such materials should be allowed into the workshop at a time,General health and safety (engineering) 11 and then only into non-smoking zones. The advice of the local authority fire brigade’s fire prevention officer should also be sought. It is good practice to provide metal containers with air-tight hinged lids with proper markings as to the type of rubbish they should contain since some types of rubbish will ignite spontaneously when mixed. The lids of the bins should be kept closed so that, if a fire starts, it will quickly use up the air in the bin and go out of its own accord without doing any damage. 1.7 Accidents Accidents do not happen, they are caused. There is not a single accident that could not have been prevented by care and forethought on some- body’s part. Accidents can and must be prevented. They cost millions of lost man-hours of production every year, but this is of little importance compared with the immeasurably cost in human suffering. In every eight-hour shift nearly one hundred workers are the victims of industrial accidents. Many of these will be blinded, maimed for life, or confined to a hospital bed for months. At least two of them will die. Figure 1.5 shows the main causes of accidents. Handling and lifting Struck by falling goods and materials objects Machinery Transport Persons falling from Use of hand tools heights or same level Stepping on or striking Other causes, including against objects electric shock Figure 1.5 Average national causes of industrial accidents (by per cent of all accidents)12 Engineering Fundamentals 1.7.1 Accident procedure You must learn and obey the accident procedures for your company. • Report all accidents, no matter how small and trivial they seem, to your supervisor, instructor or tutor. Record your report and details of the incident on an accident form. • Receive first-aid treatment from a qualified person, or your company’s medical centre, depending upon the size of your company and its policy. It is important that you follow the procedures laid down by your company since the accident register has to be produced on request by any HSE inspector visiting your company. Failure to log all accidents is an offence under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act and can lead to prosecution in the courts. Also if at some future date you had to seek compensation as a result of the accident, your report is important evidence. 1.7.2 Warning signs and labels You must be aware of the warning signs and their meanings. You must also obey such signs. To disregard them is an offence under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act. Warning signs are triangular in shape and all the sides are the same length. The background colour is yellow and there is a black border. In addition to warning signs there are also warning labels. Figure 1.6 shows some typical warning signs and warning labels. It also gives their meanings. Figure 1.6 Warning signs Prohibition signs You can recognize these signs as they have a red circular band and a red crossbar on a white background. Figure 1.7 shows five typical prohibitionGeneral health and safety (engineering) 13 Figure 1.7 Prohibition signs signs. These signs indicate activities that are prohibited at all times. They must be obeyed, you have no option in the matter. To disregard them is an offence in law, as you would be putting yourself and others at considerable risk. Mandatory signs You can recognize these signs as they have a blue background colour. The symbol must be white. Figure 1.8 shows five typical mandatory signs. These signs indicate things that you must do and precautions that you must take. These signs must be obeyed, you have no option in the matter. To disregard them is an offence in law as, again, you would be putting yourself at considerable risk. Figure 1.8 Mandatory signs Figure 1.9 Safe condition signs14 Engineering Fundamentals Safe condition signs In addition to the signs discussed so far that tell you what to look out for, what you must do and what you must not do, there are also signs that tell you what is safe. These have a white symbol on a green background. The example shown in Fig. 1.9(a) indicates a first aid post or an ambulance room. The example shown in Fig. 1.9(b) indicates a safe direction in which to travel. 1.8 First aid Accidents can happen anywhere at any time. They can happen in the home and in the streets as well as in the workshops of industry. The injuries caused by such accidents can range from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones and life threatening injuries. It is a very good idea to know what to do in an emergency. • You must be aware of the accident procedure. • You must know where to find your nearest first aid post. • You must know the quickest and easiest route to the first aid post. • You must know who is the qualified first aid person on duty (if he/she is a part-time person, then where he/she can be found). First aid should be administered only by a qualified person. Unfortunately in this day and age, more and more people are being encouraged to seek compensation through the courts of law. Complications resulting from amateurish but well-intentioned and well-meaning attempts at first aid on your part could result in you being sued for swingeing damages. 1.8.1 In the event of an emergency If you are first on the scene of a serious incident, but you are not a trained first aider: • Remain calm. • Get help quickly by sending for the appropriate skilled personnel. • Act and speak in a calm and confident manner to give the casualty confidence. • Do not attempt to move the casualty. • Do not administer fluids. • Hand over to the experts as quickly as possible. Minor wounds Prompt first aid can help nature heal small wounds and deal with germs. If you have to treat yourself then wash the wound clean and apply a plaster. However, you must seek medical advice if:General health and safety (engineering) 15 • there is a foreign body embedded in the wound; • there is a special risk of infection (such as a dog bite or the wound has been caused by a dirty object); • a non-recent wound shows signs of becoming infected. Sometimes there can be foreign bodies in minor wounds. Small pieces of glass or grit lying on a wound can be picked off with tweezers or rinsed off with cold water before treatment. However, you MUST NOT try to remove objects that are embedded in the wound; you may cause further tissue damage and bleeding. 1. Control any bleeding by applying firm pressure on either side of the object, and raising the wounded part. 2. Drape a piece of gauze lightly over the wound to minimize the risk of germs entering it, then build up padding around the object until you can bandage without pressing down upon it. 3. Take or send the casualty to hospital. Bruises These are caused by internal bleeding that seeps through the tissues to pro- duce the discoloration under the skin. Bruising may develop very slowly and appear hours, even days, after injury. Bruising that develops rapidly and seems to be the main problem will benefit from first aid. Caution, bruises may indicate deeper injury. Seek professional advice. Minor burns and scalds These are treated to stop the burning, to relieve pain and swelling and to minimize the risk of infection. If you are in any doubt as to the severity of the injury seek the advice of a doctor. Do not • Break blisters or interfere with the injured area; you are likely to introduce an infection. • Use adhesive dressings or strapping. • Apply lotions, ointments, creams or fats to the injury. Note: Chemical burns to the skin and particularly the eyes require imme- diate and specialist treatment. Expert attention must be obtained immedi- ately. Foreign bodies in the eye Foreign bodies in the eye can lead to blurred vision with pain or dis- comfort. They can also lead to redness and watering of the eye. A speck of dust or grit, or a loose eyelash floating on the white of the eye, can generally be removed easily. However, a foreign body that adheres to the16 Engineering Fundamentals eye, penetrates the eyeball, or rests on the coloured part of the eye should NOT be removed by a first aider. DO NOT touch anything sticking to, or embedded in, the eyeball or the coloured part of the eye. Cover the affected eye with an eye pad, bandage both eyes, then take or send the casualty to hospital. 1.9 Personal protection 1.9.1 Appearance Clothing For general workshop purposes a boiler suit is the most practical and safest form of clothing. However, to be completely effective certain precautions must be taken as shown in Fig. 1.10. Short hair Long hair Sharp tools Sleeve tightly rolled Button missing Loose cuffs Buttons fastened Hole in pocket Overalls correct length Overalls too long Safety boots or shoes Lightweight shoes and and Figure 1.10 Correct and incorrect dress Long hair • Long hair is liable to be caught in moving machinery such as drilling machines and lathes. This can result in the hair and scalp being torn away which is extremely dangerous and painful. Permanent disfigure- ment will result and brain damage can also occur. • Long hair is also a health hazard, as it is almost impossible to keep clean and free from infection in a workshop environment. Either adopt a short and more manageable head style or some sort of head coveringGeneral health and safety (engineering) 17 that will keep your hair out of harm’s way. Suitable head protection is discussed in Section 1.10. Sharp tools Sharp tools protruding from the breast pocket can cause severe wounds to the wrist. Such wounds can result in paralysis of the hand and fingers. Buttons missing and loose cuffs Since the overalls cannot be fastened properly, it becomes as dangerous as any other loose clothing and is liable to be caught in moving machinery. Loose cuffs are also liable to be caught up like any other loose cloth- ing. They may also prevent you from snatching your hand away from a dangerous situation. Hole in pocket Tools placed in a torn pocket can fall through onto the feet of the wearer. Although this may not seem potentially dangerous, it could cause an accident by distracting your attention at a crucial moment. Overalls too long These can cause you to trip and fall, particularly when negotiating stair- ways. Lightweight shoes The possible injuries associated with lightweight and unsuitable shoes are: • puncture wounds caused by treading on sharp objects; • crushed toes caused by falling objects; • damage to your Achilles tendon due to insufficient protection around the heel and ankle. Suitable footwear for workshop use is discussed in Section 1.13. 1.9.2 Head and eye protection As has already been stated, long hair is a serious hazard in a workshop. If it becomes entangled in a machine, as shown in Fig. 1.11, the operator can be scalped. If you wish to retain a long hairstyle in the interests of fashion, then your hair must be contained in a close fitting cap. This also Figure 1.11 The hazard of long helps to keep your hair and scalp clean and healthy. hair When working on site, or in a heavy engineering erection shop involv- ing the use of overhead cranes, all persons should wear a safety helmet complying with BS 2826. Even small objects such as nuts and bolts can cause serious head injuries when dropped from a height. Figure 1.12(a) shows such a helmet. Safety helmets are made from high impact resistant18 Engineering Fundamentals Adjustable harness Elastic Safety headband clearance Spring head band (helmet can be fitted for full protection) (a) (b) (c) Figure 1.12 Head and eye protection: (a) a typical fibre-glass safety helmet made to BS 2826; (b) plastic face safety visor for complete protection against chemical and salt-bath splashes; (c) transparent plastic goggles suitable for machining operations plastics or from fibre-glass reinforced polyester mouldings. Such helmets can be colour coded for personnel identification and are light and com- fortable to wear. Despite their lightweight construction, they have a high resistance to impact and penetration. To eliminate the possibility of elec- tric shock, safety helmets have no metal parts. The harness inside a safety helmet should be adjusted so as to provide ventilation and a fixed safety clearance between the outer shell of the helmet and the wearer’s skull. This clearance must be maintained at 32 millimetres. The entire harness is removable for regular cleaning and sterilizing. It is fully adjustable for size, fit and angle to suit the individual wearer’s head. Whilst it is possible to walk about on an artificial leg, nobody has ever seen out of a glass eye. Therefore eye protection is possibly the most important precaution you can take in a workshop. Eye protection is provided by wearing suitable visors as shown in Fig. 1.12(b) or goggles as shown in Fig. 1.12(c). Eye injuries fall into three main categories: • Pain and inflammation due to abrasive grit and dust getting between the lid and the eye. • Damage due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation (arc-welding) and high intensity visible light. Particular care is required when using laser equipment. • Loss of sight due to the eyeball being pierced or the optic nerve being cut by flying splinters of metal (swarf), or by the blast of a compressed air jet. Where eye safety is concerned, prevention is better than cure. There may be no cure 1.9.3 Hand protection Your hands are in constant use and, because of this, they are constantly at risk handling dirty, oily, greasy, rough, sharp, hot and possibly corrosive and toxic materials. Gloves and ‘palms’ of a variety of styles and types of materials are available to protect your hands whatever the nature of the work. Some examples are shown in Fig. 1.13. In general terms, plas- tic gloves are impervious to liquids and should be worn when handlingGeneral health and safety (engineering) 19 Figure 1.13 Gloves suitable for industrial purposes: (a) leather glove with reinforced palm – ideal for hand- ling steel sheet and sections; (b) gauntlet – available in rubber, neoprene or PVC for handling chemical, corrosive or oily materials; (c) heat resistant leather glove – can be used for handling objects heated up ◦ to 360 C; (d) chrome leather hand-pad or ‘palm’ – very useful for handling sheet steel, sheet glass, etc.; (e) industrial gauntlets – usually made of leather because of its heat resistance; gauntlets not only protect the hands but also the wrists and forearms from splashes from molten salts and hot quenching media Falling objects crush toe-cap Cuts at ankle level Sole penetrated by sharp object (a) Stout leather prevents injury Steel toe-cap to the achilles tendon Steel intersole Non-slip oil-resistant sole (b) (c) Figure 1.14 Safety footwear: (a) lightweight shoes offer no protection; (b) industrial safety shoe; (c) indus- trial safety boot oils, greases and chemicals. However, they are unsuitable and even danger- ousforhandlinghotmaterials.Leatherglovesshouldbeusedwhenhandling sharp, rough and hot materials. NEVER handle hot workpieces and mate- rials with plastic gloves. These could melt onto and into your flesh causing serious burns that would be difficult to treat.20 Engineering Fundamentals Where gloves are inappropriate, as when working precision machines, but your hands still need to be protected from oil and dirt rather than from cuts and abrasions, then you should use a barrier cream. This is a mildly antiseptic cream that you can rub well into your hands before work. It fills the pores of your skin and prevents the entry of oils and dirt that could cause infection. The cream is water-soluble and can be removed by washing your hands with ordinary soap and water at the end of the shift. Removal of the cream carries away the dirt and sources of infection. DO NOT use solvents to clean your hands except under medical super- vision. As well as removing oils, greases, paints and adhesives, solvents also remove the natural protective oils from your skin. This leaves the skin open to infection and can lead to cracking and sores. It can also result in sensitization of the skin and the onset of industrial dermatitis. 1.9.4 Foot protection The dangers associated with wearing unsuitable shoes in a workshop have already been discussed. The injuries that you can suffer when wearing lightweight, casual shoes are shown in Fig. 1.14. This figure also shows some examples of safety footwear as specified in BS 1870. Such safety footwear is available in a variety of styles and prices. It looks as smart as normal footwear and is almost as comfortable. 1.10 Hazards in the 1.10.1 Health hazards workplace Noise Excessive noise can be a dangerous pollutant of the working environment. The effects of noise can result in: • Fatigue leading to careless accidents. • Mistaken communications between workers leading to accidents. • Ear damage leading to deafness. • Permanent nervous disorders. Noise is energy and it represents waste since it does not do useful work. Ideally it should be suppressed at source to avoid waste of energy and to improve the working environment. If this is not possible then you should be insulated from the noise by sound absorbent screens and/or ear protectors (earmuffs). Narcotic (anaesthetic) effects Exposure to small concentrations of narcotic substances causes headaches, giddiness and drowsiness. Under such conditions you are obviously prone to accidents since your judgement and reactions are adversely affected. A worker who has become disorientated by the inhalation of narcotics is a hazard to himself or herself and a hazard to other workers.

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