“Occupational exposure standard exceedances” are four words that every Health and Safety Specialist dreads to hear.
But, all is not lost. Proactive control evaluation can be used to better manage and implement control measures, and provide investigative information immediately after any exceedance.
Where to start?
One of the biggest mistakes after any exceedance is to implement controls without setting clear boundaries for the control project. More often than not this method of control selection fails and is unsustainable.
Take a breath and look at the Value Chain of your organisation.
The value chain is the different aspects of work which add value to a product or service prior to it being completed or purchased. Taking this approach will allow you get a bird’s eye look at your work, giving you the ability to step back and analyse areas where controls can be implemented.
Reduce the risk as you go further down the value chain before you reach the area where the exceedances occurs.
Below is an example of value chain for Timber processing.
Image Reference: fairventures worldwide
Let’s say for this industry there has been an exceedance of dust in the pulp mill within the highlighted area of the value chain.
By viewing the area of concern within the value chain you can start focusing on what control measures you can implement to change the risk where the exceedance occurred. As a result, you will determine the effectiveness of a control or if there are still additional controls required.
For this example, a local exhaust ventilation system has been installed in the pulp mill to reduce dust levels for operators in the area. Before the wood is sent to the process plant it is sprayed with water to reduce dust liberation while handling. The control proves successful with real time monitors and was confirmed by means of static sampling.
You have also implemented a weekly inspection program for this control and a maintenance program to ensure the control is always functioning. As you gain confidence in these control measures, you decide to install a back trip system in the pulp mill that will stop the feed of wood if dust levels exceed the Occupational Exposure Levels.
Now you have a control implemented that constantly gives you feedback on its effectiveness.
Once an exceedance occurs in this area you can review real-time data, maintenance records and weekly inspection reports to determine what went wrong.
Easy obtainable information can then be provided to a manager, employee or regulator on any exceedance.
By developing your Value Chain of your organisation, you actively allow yourself to divide areas of concern into more digestible, easy to manage sections.
This can be done by completing the following steps:
In an economy with ever increasing production pressures and the need to operate in a more cost effective way, control implementation strategies should be applied correctly to protect workers, avoid unnecessary production delays and wasteful allocation of resources.
If you require any assistance in the facilitation or development of control implementation strategies with a proactive look at controls, contact GCG to talk to a Senior Occupational Hygiene Consultant to discuss your situation.
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