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  • 1. UNIT 6 PHYSICAL HAZARDS 1 HPEO 408 Occupational Health Hazards
  • 3.
    • Ubiquitous exposure!
    • Ergonomic risks can be found across all industries:
      • Office work
      • Retail
      • Tourism
      • Healthcare
      • Heavy industry
    • Ergonomic hazards fall into 5 main classes:
      • Force exertion
      • Repetitive motion
      • Postures (awkward and static)
      • Contact stress
  • 4.
    • Involves the body exerting a physical force during their work task
    • Most common when doing manual tasks
    • Examples of force exertion:
      • Lifting/carrying
      • Pushing
      • Pulling
      • Gripping
        • Pinch grips (force usually between fingers and thumb)
        • Power grips (force usually between fingers and palm)
      • Swinging (e.g. hammering)
  • 5.
    • Involves repeating the same task/movement using the same limb/muscle over a length of time
    • Severity of risk highly dependent on rate of motion and duration
    • Examples of repetitive motion tasks:
      • Typing
      • Scanning (e.g. grocery store clerk, ultrasound technicians)
      • Production line work
      • Laboratory work (e.g. pipetting)
      • Agriculture workers (e.g. berry picking)
  • 6.
    • Occurs when the body is moved in a position that causes strain
      • Working in awkward postures increases the amount of force needed to complete the task
      • Work surfaces at improper heights important risk factor
    • Examples of awkward postures include:
      • Bending (forward, backward, and to the side)
        • Cradling phone in neck
      • Twisting
        • Transferring loads while standing still
      • Squatting
        • Agriculture workers
      • Over reaching
        • Cleaning bathtubs
  • 7.
    • Occurs when the body or body part stays in the same position for a long period of time
    • Increases the static load to the muscles/tendons to maintain position
    • Examples of static postures include:
      • Gripping tools that cannot be put down
        • Traffic control person (i.e. flagger)
      • Holding the arms out or up to perform tasks
        • Automobile repair
      • Standing in one place for prolonged periods
        • Cashier
  • 8.
    • Occurs from contact (occasional, repeated, or continuous) between a hard or sharp object and the body tissues
    • Most common on soft tissue of the fingers, palms, forearms, thighs, shins, and feet
    • Common examples:
      • Using the body as a “hammer”
        • Using palm to push things
        • Carpet kicker
      • Pressing of tool handles into the palms
      • Sitting in chair poorly setup
        • Without adequate space for the knees
        • Seat pan too long
        • Chair too short
      • Wearing latex gloves that are too tight
      • Standing/kneeling on hard surfaces
      • Resting wrists on desk edge while typing
  • 9.
    • Exposure to one ergonomic risk factor may be enough to cause or contribute to an adverse effect
    • Multiple ergonomic hazards often occur together, increasing the likelihood of an adverse effect
    • Severity depends on:
      • Duration
      • Frequency
      • Magnitude
  • 10.
    • Textbook
      • Assigned reading will cover the adverse effects and some controls
      • Remaining textbook chapter material very specific and good source for additional information if interested
    • Many free worksheets/resources available online
      • WorkSafeBC Ergonomic publications website
        • See worksheets for identifying and assessing ergo hazards
      • NIOSH Ergonomics information site
      • Ergoweb
      • Washington State Department of Labor and Industries : Ergonomic Ideas Bank
      • Cornell University computer use tips: CUergo
  • 12.
    • Psychosocial hazards are hazards that are unique in that they tend to be a result of interactions between people or work characteristics rather than an hazardous agent
      • Historically not considered hazards but rather “stressors”
    • Emerging issue in occupational health!
    • The classifications of psychosocial hazards are hazy and change based on industry/country/occupation
    • The main psychosocial hazards we will review are:
      • Shift work
      • Fatigue
      • Workplace violence
      • Bullying
      • Workplace stress
  • 14.
    • Considered any non-standard 8-hr working shift between the hours of 7:00 am – 6:00 pm including:
      • Swing shift
      • Evening/night shift
      • Rotational shifts
      • Weekend work
      • Split shifts
      • On call/casual
      • Irregular schedule
      • Extended workdays
    • High risk occupations/industries:
      • Healthcare
      • Emergency/Protective Services
      • Manufacturing
      • Primary Industry
      • Tourism/Hospitality
    • How big is the problem?
      • In 2005 approximately 28% (4.1 million) of Canada’s working population worked irregular/shift work
  • 15.
    • Shift work has been linked with multiple adverse effects including increased injury rates, gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and cardiovascular disease
    • Mechanism for harm thought to be due to sleep deprivation that leads to disruption of the circadian rhythm (i.e. biological clock)
    • Shift work has now classified as a Group 2A carcinogen (probably carcinogenic to humans) by IARC
  • 16.
    • Shift rotations
      • Quicker rotation of shifts (i.e. 2 days/2 nights vs. 5 days/5 nights) allows for quicker circadian rhythm recovery
      • For swing shifts 2 weeks of day shift/2 weeks of night shift better than one week rotations however, there is some debate over this as the rhythm is influenced on the weekends when sleep patterns are altered
      • Have a forward rotating shift (i.e. morning > evening > night) as it is easier for the circadian rhythm to move forward than backward
    SHIFT WORK CONTROLS Difficult, but there are some things that lessen the effects of shift work:
    • Have longer breaks between shifts
      • Provides more time to recover
      • Recommended to have a minimum of 24 hours between rotation changes
    • Shift start times
      • Early morning shifts have been shown to cause fatigue
      • Try to avoid shifts that start before 7:00 am
    • During work time
      • Have well lit areas
      • Provide frequent breaks and opportunity to move around
    • Education
      • Educate workers on importance of sleep, diet, and exercise while doing shift work
  • 17.
    • Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, exhausted, weary, or sleepy
    • There are many work and non-work causes of fatigue including:
      • Inadequate rest (insufficient sleep duration, insufficient break between shifts)
      • Long or irregular work hours (overlaps/combined with shift work)
      • Prolonged mental or physical activity
      • Prolonged periods of stress or anxiety
      • Sleep disorder or other health condition
    • Fatigue can be either acute or chronic.
      • Acute fatigue
        • short-term sleep loss / short periods of heavy physical or mental work
        • effects are of short duration and usually can be reversed by sleep and relaxation
      • Chronic fatigue
        • Long-term sleep loss or overwork
        • Recovery requires extended rest
    • How much sleep is enough?
      • Research suggest adults get at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours everyday
      • Avoid accumulation of a sleep “debt”
  • 18.
    • Adverse effects of fatigue:
      • Impaired judgment (increase in risk-taking, accidents, and incidents)
      • Reduced attention/vigilance, memory, reaction time, and productivity/performance
      • Difficulty in concentration (decision making, planning, communication)
      • Reduced visual and hand to eye co-ordination
      • Falling asleep on the job
      • Increase in absenteeism and presenteeism
      • Reduced ability to handle stress on the job
    • Fatigue a special problem in jobs involving heavy machinery or driving (i.e. long-haul truck drivers)
    • NOTE: fatigue levels are not easily measured or quantified
      • Hard to determine if workers fatigue level was cause during accidents/injuries investigations
  • 19.
    • Workplace violence is any act towards an employee at work, or due to their work, that causes the worker to feel they may be at risk for physical harm
      • Violence includes verbal, physical, or emotional acts
      • Most people still consider violence as having the risk of physical harm only; however definitions are changing and other forms of “abuse” are now being considered violence without physical harm (i.e. bullying)
    • Examples of violent acts:
      • Gestures (shaking fists, suggestive/vulgar movements)
      • Verbal threats to cause physical harm to the individual, their property, or reputation
      • Acts meant to demean, embarrass, or humiliate a worker
      • Verbal attacks (swearing or insulting)
      • Physical attacks (hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking)
  • 20.
    • Criminal
      • violence committed to employees by citizens with no association with the organization or victim
        • Ex. robbery (cash, drugs)
    • Service user
      • violence committed to employees by patrons/service users
        • Ex. bouncer injured during job removing drunk patron
    • Worker–on-worker
      • violence committed to employees by other employees
        • Ex. fight between co-workers about promotion
    • Domestic
      • violence committed to employees by a citizen with no association with the organization, but with a fellow employee
        • Ex. husband/wife of worker attacks co-worker over suspected affair
  • 21.
    • Factors to be considered that may increase the risk of violence are:
      • The population
        • Working with the public
        • Working with unstable or volatile persons
      • The location
        • Working in community-based setting/having mobile workplace (e.g. home support workers, taxi drivers)
        • Working in high crime rate areas or isolated areas
      • The service
        • Work in premises where alcohol is served
      • The time
        • Working during periods of high/elevated stress (e.g. tax season, Christmas)
        • Working late at night or early morning
        • Working during periods of intense organizational change (e.g. strikes, downsizing)
      • Working alone
  • 22.
    • High risk occupations:
      • Health care (nurses, paramedics, long term care aides, home support workers)
      • Protective services (police, fire, security, correctional, social services)
      • Teachers, daycare providers
      • Retail (convenience store, fuel stations)
      • Customer service agents
  • 23.
    • Control options highly depends on the type of violence; however, some examples of how to reduce workplace violence can be done by breaking control options into management, administrative, workplace design, and equipment:
      • Workplace Management – these are control options designed and monitored by management. Mostly these relate to rules and regulations of violence in the workplace
        • Educate workers on identifying workplace violence
        • Clearly defining what is unacceptable behavior and consequences of violent acts
        • Assure confidentiality to those reporting violent incidents
  • 24.
      • Administrative – these are control options that influence how work is performed
        • Keeping cash on hand to a minimum
        • Using electronic payment systems to reduce the amount of cash available
        • Changing bank deposit or cash handling activities at varying times of the day/ using licensed security firm for cash pickup
        • Have security (ID badges / security patrol)
        • Well defined working alone procedures/rules (contact person, posted schedule)
        • If working out of office use buddy system if possible
        • Always work in pairs when having a potentially confrontational meeting
        • Training in aggression management, emergency preparedness
        • Increase the amount of workers during peak times to increase efficiency
        • If possible make customer interactions over phone, limit face-face interactions
        • Provide mobile phones to workers with moving office
  • 25.
      • Workplace Design – these control options are meant to consider the physical layout and space arrangement that could influence security.
        • Position reception/sales or service counter so that it is visible by passers
        • Keep or enhance visibility of office/store through windows
        • Positioning office furniture so employees are closer to a door/exit than the client
        • Increase the width/depth of service desks to increase difficulty in obtaining physical contact with employee
        • Install barriers between employee and customer
        • Limit number of entries into store/office
        • Ensure workspace and entrances are well lit
  • 26.
      • Workplace Equipment – these control options can be used to help deter violence or be used to summon assistance in the event of an emergency
        • Payment options - electronic payment system will reduce amount of cash available on site
        • Drop or time-lock safe
        • Install door alarms or buzzers to notify worker someone entered the space
        • Install security devices (cameras, alarms)
        • Use signage to alert customers of security measures/no cash on hand
        • Have form of communication available (phones, walki-talkie)
  • 27.
    • Varying definitions of bullying, harassment, mobbing, and violence
      • Based on broad definition of violence bullying, harassment, and mobbing are all forms of violence however, many people still regard violence as only threats/acts of physical harm
      • Below are some small differences to help explain the difference between the three terms:
    • Bullying is typically considered repeated aggressive/unreasonable behavior that is meant to intentionally hurt another person (physically or mentally)
      • Main reason is to gain power or increase self esteem
      • Bullying is often not identified for weeks or at times months
    • Harassment differs as it is usually linked to a particular demographic feature of the person such as their gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability
      • Main reason is to “hurt” victim
      • Often incidents are not repeated and are one time incident
      • Harassment is usually identified quickly/immediately
    • Mobbing occurs when more than one person is involved in the bullying acts/events
      • Often caused by one “ringleader” who bullies others into their activities
  • 28.
    • Examples of bullying behavior:
      • Gossiping or starting “rumors” about the victim
      • Name calling
      • The silent treatment/refusing to socialize with victim
      • Manipulating
      • Laughing/staring at victim
      • Mocking victim
      • Criticizing the victim repeatedly (e.g. work, dress, behavior)
      • Undermining or impeding a person's work
      • Assigning unwarranted punishment/unreasonable amount of work
      • Obstruct victim advancement if possible
      • Tampering with victim’s belongings/work/work equipment
    • Outcomes of bullying
      • Social isolation
      • “ Stress”
      • Reduced self esteem
      • Absenteeism
      • Many others…
  • 29.
    • Examples on how to control or limit bullying are:
      • Develop a Workplace Bullying Policy
        • Clearly outlines inappropriate behavior, consequences to comply with policy
        • Clearly outlines complaint handling and investigation procedures
        • Provide a “neutral” contact person for complaints/concerns
      • Provide training for management and workers on workplace bullying
      • Provide leadership training
      • Develop a mentoring program for new or junior employees
      • Human Resources
        • Provide clear job descriptions for each position in the company
        • Keep statistics on absenteeism, injuries, complaints, etc.
        • Identify and support employees at higher risk
        • Develop standard operating procedures
        • Review and monitor workloads and staffing levels
        • Limit work hours
        • Seek regular feedback from staff about roles and responsibilities
  • 30.
    • World Health Organization definition of workplace stress:
    • “ Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”
    WORKPLACE STRESS Obtained from:
  • 31.
    • It is important to note that “Stress” can be positive and negative, but too much stress can be harmful
    • When faced with a stressor the body has a physical reaction called the “fight or flight” response
      • Causes the body to stimulate the production of additional hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to help “deal” with the stressor
      • The hormone release temporarily:
        • Increases alertness and strength
        • Improves immunological activity
        • Decreases pain
    • Chronic exposure to stress, that the body is unable to handle, can lead to many adverse effects such as ulcers, headaches, mood changes, weight gain/loss
  • 32. JOB STRESSOR EXAMPLES Adapted from: Murphy, L. R., Occupational Stress Management: Current Status and Future Direction. in Trends in Organizational Behavior, 1995, Vol. 2, p. 1-14) Factors unique to the job
    • Workload (overload/underload)
    • Pace / variety / meaningfulness of work
    • Autonomy (e.g., ability to make your own decisions about your job or specific tasks)
    • Physical environment (noise, air quality, etc)
    • Isolation at the workplace (emotional or working alone)
    Role in the organization
    • Role conflict (conflicting job demands, multiple supervisors/managers)
    • Role ambiguity (lack of clarity about responsibilities, expectations, etc)
    • Level of responsibility
    Career development
    • Under/over-promotion
    • Job security (fear from economy, or lack of tasks or work to do)
    • Career development opportunities
    • Overall job satisfaction
    Relationships at work (Interpersonal)
    • Supervisors
    • Coworkers
    • Subordinates
    • Threat of violence, harassment, etc (threats to personal safety)
    Organizational structure/climate
    • Participation (or non-participation) in decision-making
    • Management style
    • Communication patterns
  • 33.
    • Learn better communication skills with management, coworkers, and subordinates
    • Improve time management
      • Balance your schedule to incorporate breaks
      • Arrive a few minutes early for work to prepare for your day
      • Prioritize your work tasks and complete in order of importance
      • Don’t take on more work than you can complete (i.e. don’t set up for failure)
      • Break your projects into smaller less overwhelming tasks, provides sense of accomplishment
    • Learn how to ask for help
      • Don’t try to control everything, delegate responsibilities when possible
      • Know your limits and when to ask for help if you don’t understand your work
    • Improve your health and wellness
      • Exercise
      • Eat healthy
  • 34.
    • Improve communication
      • Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities
      • Share information about jobs/futures to reduce uncertainty
    • Give workers a voice
      • Allow workers to participate in decisions that affect their jobs including work rules/scheduling
    • Monitor work
      • Ensure the workload is suitable to employees’ abilities and resources
    • Show appreciation for workers
      • Verbal conformation of good work performance and value to the company
      • Provide opportunities for career development
    • Foster a healthy/friendly social workplace
      • Provide team building exercises/outings
      • Provide social interactions among employees
      • Firmly adhere to anti harassment/bullying/violence policy
    • Provide workers with support
      • Develop health promotion program
      • Encourage healthy lifestyles (exercise at work, gym memberships)
  • 35.
    • SFU’s [email_address] software for evaluating workplace stress (free registration for company use)
    • The job stress network
    • NIOSH’s Stress At Work resource page