Exposure to excessive noise in workplace
Matlock, Derbyshire was home to our most recent project. We were contacted and asked to attend a factory which specialises in the production and the processing of calcium carbonate, calcium oxide and dihydroxide products. The factory site consist of one process hall, bagging sheds and several ancillary buildings, offices and a laboratory.
At the time of our assessment the main process hall which houses a mill and calcium oxide process machinery was not operational. The bagging process was the only activity taking place during our visit, The bagging building is divided into a main bagging area and a CT bagging area. Typically the bagging operation is carried out over 3-8 hours approximately once a month. Therefore the expected exposure time to employees is considered to be 8 hours. Typical work in the CT bagging area consists of connecting 400kg to packaging machinery, empty bags of sizes between 1-10kg are then filled by the packaging machine and manually put on a desk. Once the desk is full of bags, the operative working in the area must seal each bag manually and put it into a transport container.
Sampling and analysis
In order to calculate the occupational exposure to hazardous substances, we must collect samples of airborne particulates by fitting employees with Cassella and Gillian personal samplers. We also required samples for inhalable dust, which we collected using 7 hole sampling head fitted QMA filters (25mm, 1.6µm).
Once collected, the samples were analysed and they revealed that the employees are likely to be exposed to levels of inhalable calcium oxide dust above the workplace exposure limits (WELs).
Once the assessment had been completed and the results analysed, our surveyor had several remediation recommendations for our client. Firstly, we strongly recommended that changes are made to the existing LEV system in order to effectively capture the contaminants, as air monitoring suggests that it is currently inadequate.
Our client made us aware that the current system of work in the bagging area is likely to change in the near future due to an increase in customers’ orders. In order for this to happen, our client is preparing significant changes to the whole packaging line. We recommend that when designing the new packaging system, the employees exposure to dust is considered. Respiratory protection of at least FFP3 standards should be used until the new system is implemented and verified that it effectively controls the release of the contaminants.
We recommend that an in-house Health surveillance programme is introduced and records of employees’ health surveillance should be kept for 40 years. Our final recommendation was that all employees are provided with adequate training on the health risks from hazardous substances in the workplace, control measures, their use and maintenance. Refresher training should be provided annually or if circumstances change within the workplace.