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OSA Magazine | Issue 11

Confined Space Rescue

Scott Goodwin brings the weight of 29 years’ experience as a firefighter to describe essential confined space management strategies.

Getting a Grip on Hand Protection

Pakistan is the sixth most populated country in Asia, with an estimated 160 million inhabitants. Gaining independence from the British Empire in 1947, Pakistan is a bouquet of diverse people and cultures. It is also rich in agrarian and mineral resources. Interestingly, Pakistan is also part of the ‘Next Eleven’, a group of 11 countries with high economic potential in the 21st century. The economy of Pakistan is the 47th largest in the world in nominal terms and 27th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power parity. Unfortunately, due to several reasons, Pakistan has gained a negative reputation. Terrorist attacks and extremist activities have caused people to overlook the potential it possesses for growth on the global stage. In addition, unfavorable regulatory policies along with rising inflation have made it difficult for Pakistani businesses to operate competitively in international markets. Despite these odds, however, Pakistan has a growing export base and the figures speak for themselves.

Height Safety a Top Priority

Ninety five percent of accidents in industry happen due to unsafe situations. Due to all manner of unsafe situations, accidents occur in both professional and non-professional situations, and working at height is one of the leading causes of injury or, at worst, fatality. In fact, falls from height are a major cause of injuries worldwide. Fall injuries, deaths and major fractures are the most common of workplace hazards caused by working at height. Such accidents on the job are expensive for employers, but painful for employees, or, if a fatality results, a tragedy for entire families. There are so many situations that can cause such incidents. Most of working at height related accidents can be prevented by eliminating workplace hazards, and improving your safety culture, or through people taking the proper action to work safely after being made fully aware of hazards through thorough training. Falls from height are responsible for many serious and fatal injuries every year. If a person falls from a height above two metres, the likelihood is that they will sustain serious injury.

Setting the Noise Agenda

The problem in context Asia comprises 47 countries. It is the world’s largest and most populous continent. Its population is estimated at four billion people, representing 60 percent of the world’s current human population (Population Reference Bureau, 2010). It is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, forests, fish, copper and silver. The current trend in many developing Asian countries is that workers are moving from agriculture to the manufacturing industry sector. Millions of workers are employed in manufacturing companies, especially in mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Indeed, for most of the Asia Pacific countries the rapidity of industrialisation largely accounted for the economic growth of these nations in the late 1980s (Wilkinson, 1994). In China alone, from 1979 to 1991, the number of industrial enterprises increased by a factor of 12 and the number of employees has multiplied by 2.4 times (Zhi et al, 2000). Many companies from developed countries have moved their manufacturing plants to these countries due to cheaper labour, yet with good access to technology. In countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the manufacturing industry represents approximately 70 percent and 83 percent of the total FDI, respectively (Daquila, 2004). In the footwear industry alone, of the ten countries that were identified as the leading producers of footwear in 1998, mainland China accounted for almost 50 percent of world production (SATRA, 2000). This trend has created occupational health and safety (OHS) issues such as more sources of noise emissions, smaller ratio of OHS-related professionals per number of workers, the use of other hazardous agents such as ototoxic chemicals along with an increased increment in the number of labourers at risk of developing noise induced hearing loss. In developed countries as opposed to developing ones, noise emissions from machinery are periodically measured and actions to reduce hazardous noise exposures are taken. In developing Asian countries due to the lack of specific legislation regarding noise emissions, or simply due to the lack of personnel from local governments to inspect factories, noise emissions are rarely controlled. The International Labour Organisation (ILO, 2006) has suggested that countries should have at least one inspector for every 10,000 workers, whereas in Asian countries such as mainland China there is one inspector for every 35,000 workers (O’Rouke & Brown, 2003). Thus, high environmental noise levels are part of the daily lives of most Asian labourers. Agriculture still remains as one the main industries of countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In India, 60 percent of labourers still work in the agricultural sector (Sundaram, 2001). Farmers are also at risk of NIHL as tractors, sugarcane crushers, and other machines are noisy tools used daily on contemporary Asian farms. Tractor designs in high income countries have become more sophisticated and most of them have enclosed environment controlled suspended cabins. These designs are not likely to become common in countries like India in the near future (Kumar et al, 2005). Currently, tractors in India and other developing Asian countries do not have adequate vibration and sound attenuating design features. A fact to be taken into consideration is that, in India alone, the use of tractors has increased from 52,000 in the 1960s to 3.2 million in the 1990s (Motor Transport of India, 2003). Similarly, in Pakistan, the number of tractors has increased from 35,700 (1974) to 401,700 (2004), (Government of Pakistan Statistics Division Agricultural Census Organisation, 2004). Other important industries in the region which represent a risk for workers’ hearing health are commercial fishing and mining. Fishing is the largest industry in the Maldives, contributing 68 percent of the export earning and employing more than 10 percent of the total working population in this country (Chowdhury, 2008). The mining sector is Mongolia’s single largest industry, accounting for 55 percent of industrial output and more than 40 percent of export earnings (Mongolian National Statistical Office, 2002). Thus, Asian workers in manufacturing, agricultural, fishing and mining industries are at high risk of acquiring NIHL. This scenario becomes worse as a high percentage of workers in developing Asian countries are part of the informal sector.

The Augmented Human

Using technology to keep our workers and society safe, this article looks at hazard protection in human evolution, focusing on the applications of smart fabrics and intelligent textiles.

The Hazards of Workplace Dust

Bucket elevator conveyors are used for vertically conveying bulk materials. Dust is generated and dispersed as buckets are loaded with product, move through the elevator, and then unload the product at the top. Dusts may be defined as particulate aerosols produced by mechanical processes such as breaking, grinding, and pulverising. Smaller size and higher specific surface area may enhance the ability of dusts to become airborne. Particle size ranges from less than 1 um up to 1 mm and are generally regular in shape with a length to width ratio less than 3:1. Problems arise when the dusts generated by vertical conveyance of the product are combustible.

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