In terms of Reg. 2, 3 and 5 of the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces of the Occupational Health and Safety Act an employer is obliged to conduct a number of different environmental monitoring programs.
The first one under Regulation no. 2 requires a heat stress survey to be conducted if the work may be performed in a very hot area or a cold stress survey if the working environment is very cold.
If the heat stress factor WBGT is above 30, the employees must be dressed cool, they must be acclimatized to the area, they must be encourage to drink at least 600ml of fluid an hour, they must have regular rest period, and they need to be trained in identifying heat stress symptoms.
The workers working in a cold stress area require from 6°C or below certain protective clothing to keep them warm. As the temperature fall to -18°C a further restriction is placed on his working time in the cold area (50 minutes in the cold, 10 minutes rest in a warm area). At -34°C and below the time spent in the cold is 1 hour per day with a maximum of 30 minutes at a time, 4 hours apart. At a temperature of – 57°C and below, the person may only be in the area for 5 minutes during any 8 hour shift.
For both heat stress and cold stress the person must undergo special medicals to certify that the person is fit to work in such conditions. This must be done at least once every year.
Regulation no. 3 requires that the lighting is correct for the type of work performed. A schedule to the Regulations gives minimum values for different types of work. If the work is performed, all measurements must be taken at night as well. There are a number of factors that can influence the quality of light: Old fluorescent tubes that are still working but beyond their lifespan, flickering light, glare, especially from natural light, rotating machines as well as the cleanliness of the light and its fitting. Good lighting is not only important for factories, but also for offices – we very often find a person working all day at a computer with absolute minimal lighting.
Poor lighting (illumination) cannot only lead to serious accidents, but also damage a person’s eye sight and affect his / her quality of light (poor illumination leads to headaches).
Regulation no. 5 states that an employer shall ensure that every workplace in his undertaking is ventilated in such a way that:
The air breathed by the employees does not endanger their safety (no contamination)
The TWA concentration of CO₂ does not exceed ½% by volume of air
The CO₂ concentration does not exceed 3% by volume at any time
The prescribed exposure limits for air borne substances is not exceeded (Regulations for Hazardous Chemical Substances – also see talk on air monitoring).
The concentration of any explosive or flammable substance does not exceed the lower explosive limit of that substance.
Ventilation is also important for comfort, especially in areas where manual work is performed.
It is not only a legal requirement to ensure that your company / factory / warehouse comply, but also a moral obligation that every manager has towards his employees. Many companies do not comply and open themselves to litigation. Illumination is a major problem in many companies, especially in some of the offices.
Are your lights still burning???
Written by Frans Wilbrink of Wilbrink & Associates, tel. 031 – 266 9035