Occupational Safety and Health

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Safety and Health Safety and health awareness has a long history. There is evidence of occupational safety and health efforts as far back as the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. The code of Hammurabi, 200 BC contained clauses that could be interpreted as early attempts at workers compensation. There is also evidence of concern for safety and health during the time of the Romans.

Specific health problems associated with the workplace have contributed to the development of the modern safety and health movement. These problems include lung diseases in miners, mercury poisoning, and lung cancer tied to asbestos. Tragedies have changed the face of the safety movement at different times in the world. The Hawks nest tragedy, asbestos menace, and Bhopal disaster are examples of such tragedies.

Widely used accident prevention techniques include failure minimization, fail-safe designs, lockouts, personal protective equipment, and timed replacements.

The safety and health movement today is characterized by professionalization and integration. The safety and health team of a large company may include an industrial chemist or engineer, radiation control specialist, industrial safety engineer or manager, occupational nurse, counselor, psychologist, and dietitian. New materials and processing are introducing new safety and health problems, making the integrated approach a practical necessity and promoting growth in the profession.

BHOPAL TRAGEDY On the morning of December 3, over 40 tons of MIC and other lethal gases, including hydrogen cyanide, leaked into the northern end of Bhopal, India, killing 3,000 people in its aftermath. After the accident, it was discovered that the protective equipment which could have halted the impeding disaster was not in full working order.

Children born after the accident bear the effects of genetic damage.

The refrigeration system that should have cooled the storage tank was shut down, the scrubbing system that should have absorbed the vapour was not immediately available and the flare system that would have burned any vapour that got past the scrubbing system was out of order.

An International Medical Commission visited Bhopal to assess the situation and found that as many 50,000 other people were exposed to the poisonous gas and may still suffer disability as a result. This disaster shocked the world. Union Carbide, the owner of the chemical plant in Bhopal was accused of many things, including:

Criminal negligence Corporate prejudice. Choosing povertystricken Bhopal, India as the location for a hazardous chemical plant on the assumption that few would care if something went wrong. Avoidance. Putting its chemical plant in Bhopal to avoid the stricter safety and health standards of the USA and OSHA.

In February 1989, Indias Supreme Court ordered Union carbide India, Ltd., to pay $470 million in compensatory damages. The funds were paid to the Indian Government to be used to compensate the victims. The disaster provided the impetus for the passage of stricter safety legislation worldwide.

ASBESTOS MENACE Asbestos was once considered a miracle fibre, but in 1964 Dr Irving J Selikoff told 400 scientists at a conference on the biological effects of asbestos that this material was killing workers. Selikoff was the first to link asbestos to lung cancer and respiratory diseases. At the time of Selikoffs findings, asbestos was one of the most widely used materials found in homes, schools, offices, factories, ships, and even in the filters of cigarettes.

Selikoff continued to study the effects of asbestos exposure from 1967-1986. During this time, he studied the mortality rate of 17,800 workers who had been exposed to asbestos. He found asbestos-related cancer in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, pancreas, gall bladder and bile of the workers. Finally in the 1970s and 1980s, asbestos became a controlled material.

Hawks Nest Tragedy In the 1930s, the public began to take notice of the health problems suffered by employees who worked in dusty environments. A company was given a contract to drill a passageway through a mountain located in the Hawks nest region of West Virginia (near the city of Gauley Bridge). Workers spent as much as ten hours per day breathing the dust created by drilling and blasting.

Hawk's Nest Tunnel tragedy

It turned out that this particular mountain had an unusually high silica content. Disease called silicosis is a result of the problem of silica content takes normally 10 to 30 years to show up in exposed workers. At Hawks Nest, workers began dying in as little time as a year. By the time the project was completed, hundreds had died.

To make matters even worse, the company often buried an employee who died from exposure to silica in a nearby field without notifying the family. Those who inquired were told that their loved one left without saying where he was going. This tragedy and the public outcry led a group of companies to form the Air Hygiene Foundation developed standards for working in dusty environments. Today dust-producing industries use a wide variety of administrative controls, engineering controls, personal protective equipment to protect workers in dusty environments. However, problem related to silicosis still cannot be solved.

DEVELOPMENT OF ACCIDENT PREVENTION PROGRAMS In the modern workplace, there are many different types of accident prevention programs ranging from the simple to the complex. In early days, employers had little concern for the safety of workers and little incentive to be concerned. Consequently, organized safety programs were nonexistent.

In the Europe and the USA, due to wars, troop call-ups and deployments created severe labour shortages. Faced with these shortages, employers could not afford to lose workers to accidents or any other reasons. This realization created a greater openness toward giving safety the serious consideration that it deserved.

For example, according to the Society of manufacturing Engineers, around this time industry began to realize the following: 1. improved engineering could prevent accidents 2. employees were willing to learn and accept safety rules 3. safety rules could be established and enforced 4. financial savings from safety improvement could be reaped by savings in compensation and medical bills.

With these realizations came the long-needed incentive for employers to begin playing an active role in creating and maintaining a safe workplace. This, in turn, led to the development of organized safety programs sponsored by management.

THREE ES OF SAFETY Early safety programs were based on the Three Es of safety. Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. The engineering aspects of a safety program involve making design improvements to both product and process. By altering the design of a product, the processes used to manufacture it can be simplified, and as a result, made less dangerous.

The education aspect of a safety program ensures that employees know how to work safely, why it is important to do so, and that safety is expected by management. The enforcement aspect of a safety program involves making sure that employees abide by safety policies, rules, regulations, practices and procedures.


ACTS Factories and Machinery act 1967 (Revised 1974) (Act 139) Occupational Safety And Health Act 1994 (Act 514) Petroleum Act (Safety Measures) 1984 (Act 302)

Regulations Regulations Under Factories and Machinery Act 1967 (Act 139) (15) Regulations Under Occupational Safety And Health Act 1994 (Act 514) (7) Regulations under the Petroleum (Safety Measures) Act 1984 [ Act 302 ] (1)

Order Occupational Safety and Health (Safety and Health Officer) Order 1997 Preview Download Occupational Safety and Health (Prohibition of Use of Substances) Order 1999

Codes Of Practice Code Of Practice For Road Transport Activities 2010 Code Of Practice On Indoor Air Quality, 2005 Code Of Practice For Safe Working In A Confined Space, 2001 Code Of Practice On Prevention And Management Of HIV/AIDS At The Work Place, 2001 Code Of Practice On Prevention And Eradication of Drug, Alcohol And Substance Abuse in the Workplace, 2005 Code of Practice On Safety Health And Environment For Transportation Sector (SHE Code), 2007

Guidelines Guidelines On Occupational Safety And Health In The Office 1996 Guidelines On First-Aid Facilities In The Workplace 1996 Examination Syllabus For Engineer's Certificate Of Competency (Steam And Internal Combustion Engines) Examination 1996 Guidelines On Method Of Sampling And Analysis For Airborne Lead - 1997 Guidelines For The Formulation Of A Chemical Safety Datasheet - 1997 Guidelines For The Classification Of Hazardous Chemicals - 1997 Guidelines For Labelling Of Hazardous Chemicals - 1997 Guidelines On Occupational Safety And Health In Tunnel Construction - 1998 Guidelines For The Registration Of Assessors, Hygiene Technician And Occupational Health Doctor - 2000 Guidelines For The Preparation Of A Chemical Register - 2000 Guidelines On Trenching For Construction Safety - 2000 Assessment Of The Health Risks Arising From Use Of Hazardous Chemical In The Workplace (2nd Edition) - 2000 Guidelines On the Control Of Chemicals Hazardous To Health - 2001 Guidelines On Medical Surveillance - 2001 Guidelines for Preparation of Demonstration of Safe Operation Document (General) - 2001 Guidelines for Preparation of Demonstration of Safe Operation Document (Storage of Liquified Petroleum Gas In Cylinder) 2001 Guidance for the Prevention of Stress and Violence at the Workplace - 2001 Guideli