Safety Action Plan
Occupational health and safety is paramount in every workplace. Response to complaints regarding occupational health and safety is as important as safety itself. In order to carry out proper investigations on the complaints that had been brought forward to the Health Department by some workers in the refrigeration section of one of the major food distribution warehouses in the city, an investigation action plan was developed. The purpose for this action plan was to aid the investigation process and to facilitate determination of the possible cases of the occupational health diseases and safety issues (Herman, 2004).
In order to carry out a conclusive investigation, the site or section that was singled out for investigation was the refrigeration section since all complains forwarded to the Health Department were from this area. The issues to be investigated were further fragmented into work, environment, material, safety preparedness, complaints forwarding process and machinery. The plan below was used and the findings recorded.
Area of investigation Remarks
Environment The workers in this sections work in an area with temperatures of about 40 Degrees Fahrenheit .This condition is not comfortable and safe and does not qualify to be termed a normal work environment.
Fumes from gas powered forklifts are a hazard to the workers.
There is poor house keeping in the refrigeration section with tools, materials and personal protective gear placed carelessly in the work station.
There is no proper ventilation in the refrigeration section .Some workers also complained of breathing difficulties.
Material Polythene bags used for packaging and storing the food products in the refrigeration section were placed in every corner of the work station.
Working in this section requires proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) yet some of the workers neglected this. Some had the PPE but were not putting them on properly. There was no protection to the ears and head from cold.
Work and personnel The workers had appropriate tools for carrying out their assigned tasks.
The section had twelve female workers and two male workers. Each worker reports to work at eight o’clock in the morning and leaves at five o’clock in the evening everyday apart from Saturday when they leave at one o’clock .The workers are allowed to rest on Sunday.
Lunch break is normally between one o’clock to two o’clock and the company provides lunch to its employees.
Machinery The machinery in this section is mostly electrically powered ones.
The forklifts in used in the adjacent sections emit a lot of fumes since they are gas powered.
All switches are properly marked and located in open areas.
Complaints forwarding procedures and Safety Committee The workers who were interrogated revealed that the formal procedure for forwarding complains regarding occupational health and safety is through the section supervisor.
However, at times they are forced to bypass the supervisor and head straight to the Warehouse EHS Officer .This, they said, was because they have realized that at times the complains taken to the supervisor do not reach the EHS officer and the management.
Safety and Emergency Procedures The warehouse has a health and safety committee that is chaired by the Warehouse Manager. It also has a First Aid team with two properly trained and certified first aiders.
There are fire assembly points in each section including outside the refrigeration area.
The house has two first aid boxes but only one is fully equipped as per the safety standard.
Findings and Discussion
From the investigations carried out on the warehouse, the possible causes of complains by the staff were narrower down to material, work and personnel, environment and complaint forwarding procedures. The major possible cause of the occupational disease that was affecting the workers is the kind of environment that they carry out their tasks in. Cold environment is known to subject people to cold stress. The fact that some employees were not wearing their personal protective gear also suggested that the cold environment could be the cause of the illness affecting the two female workers because of the exposure. The workers were also subjected to this same kind of environment for an average of 7 hours a day totaling to 42 hours in a week.
This kind of exposure by itself is very dangerous and is a huge danger to human anatomy. It was also noticed that some workers wore tight fitting clothes in the refrigeration section. This is against the universally and nationally accepted kind of clothing that is recommended to be worm in a cold environment .The standard clothing advised when one is working in this environment is wearing several layers of loose clothing. The several layers help in controlling heat loss. Loose clothing is recommended as it allows for free flow of blood in the body hence allowing proper oxygen circulation (Stravroula & Jonathan, 2010). Due to the kind of environment that some of the workers in this warehouse work in, it is important to have proper channels for forwarding complains. When complains are not acted upon or investigated, they might end up causing serious health and safety cases.
Recommendations to the management
After the investigation that was carried out on the warehouse, it was found that the cold environment is the source of complains that were brought before the Health Department. This environment might have possibly caused cold stress or other cold related diseases sick female workers. Therefore the Health Department recommends the following to the management of the warehouse. The management should provide proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the workers. This should include ear and head protection for the workers in the refrigeration area.
The workers exposure time should be reduced. The company should plan the shifts to allow for days off for those workers in the refrigeration area. In addition to that, it should create breaks in between the working hours to allow the workers in the cold area to get warmed up (Dr Ann and Allan, 1995).
Proper ventilation should be provided and environmental monitors or sensors fitted in all sections of the warehouse. The warehouse management should also train their staff on proper Personal Protective Equipment usage and on the need to use them. The EHS Officer should also ensure that the employees wear their protective gear all the time when they are in the warehouse. The management of the warehouse is also advised to provide warm drinking liquids to its workers in the refrigeration section. This will help warm their body are compensate he heat that the body has lost due to cold environment. Warm areas should also be provided where the worker can use during their breaks.
Finally, the Health Department recommends that the management considers using relief workers or hire extra workers for the refrigeration section. This will reduce the number of hours each worker is exposed to cold environment. (Dr Ann ands Allan, 1995)
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