Exposure to Hazardous Substances within the workplace

Exposure to hazardous substances within the workplace

As a part of their continuing commitment to comply with Health and Safety Legislation, our next client instructed us to carry out an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. We travelled to Norwich to a poultry processing facility which specialised in the processing of poultry for the wholesale industry. The facilities consist of two main processing areas – the Lairage area and the Live bird area where approximately five employees work for 7 hours and 40 minutes.  

Exposure to Hazardous Substances within the workplace

Typical activities in the Live bird area involve taking birds from transport pallets and hanging them onto a conveyor belt. Employees working in this area are expected to be exposed to general dust with a high proportion of organic dust and a minor proportion of residual wood dust from the bedding materials. Typical activities in the Lairage area consists of employees transporting caged live birds to the CAS area for slaughtering. Employees working in this area are expected to be exposed to organic poultry dust and a minor proportion of wood dust. 

Conclusions of air monitoring

The results of our air monitoring assessment suggested that the employees are unlikely to be exposed to levels of respirable and inhalable dust above the workplace exposure limits (WELs). Therefore the use of respiratory protective equipment is not necessary. 

However the dust produced in the working area is likely to contain a significant proportion of organic dust so we strongly recommend regular health surveillance monitoring. This is because organic dust from poultry is likely to contain significant quantities of allergens, endotoxins organic detritus which can make some individuals sensitive. Records of employees’ health surveillance should be kept for 40 years. We recommend our client  to provide employees with an initial Health Surveillance followed after 6 weeks by a follow–up Health surveillance questionnaire. Follow-up health surveillance questionnaire should then be repeated annually. Further information on setting up a formal health surveillance program can be found in the HSE document G401 entitled “Health monitoring for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”

Exposure to Hazardous Substances within the workplace

We also strongly recommend that all employees are trained adequately on the health risks from hazardous substances within the workplace, control measures, their use and maintenance. Refresher training should be provided at least once a year or when circumstances change. 

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