Safety is a panacea for the sustenance of life and property, without safety there will be no security anywhere, be it at home, school, industry, hospital, offices etc. Upon this backdrop, there is a growing emphasis on the place of safety in the workplace. Laws, conventions, regulations and guidelines have continued to build up dealings with safety issues.
Organizations are increasingly being held responsible and accountable for safeguarding the health and safety of their employees and the environment. Since industry is a conglomerate of workers, environment and machinery it becomes pertinent that industrial safety must be a watch word in action and deed.
2.1 Safety is defined as a state of being free and protected from dangers, hazards or accidents arising from the environment or workplace (Laboratory, workshop, house, road, school etc).
It is generally concerned with the prevention of accidents, promotion of occupational health, prevention of environmental pollution and security of entire workforce or equipment.
Safety also deals with freedom from hazards or conditions that possesses the potentials for causing injury, disease, economic loss or damage to properties and the environment. Thus matters dealing with safety often tends to broaden the concept to include issues of health, Safety , Environment and Security (HSES).
3.0 EVOLUTION OF SAFETY SCIENCE
3.1 Accidents were generally unknown during the pre-industrial era, there were no records. Man had minimal activities and exposures, his operations were centered around his neighbourhood. Man used sticks, stones and horns as weapons. Animals such as camels and horse were used for transportation purposes. All these changed following the 18thand 19th century industrial revolution with evolution in science and technology.
With the explosion of industries, came quest to invent new methods, materials tools and products. Thus man began to spend more hours in the laboratories and factories. This gave rise to fatigue, mistake and increased accidents at the workplace. There were also the total absence of protective safeguards and devices. The escalating death tolls, loss of man-hour and loss to equipment and infrastructure led to the protests by workers, which later gave birth to trade unionism and some safety associations.
3.2 Some of these associations include:
v National Safety Council
v Association of Safety Professionals
v American Association of Safety Engineers etc.
Other notable milestones in the evolution of safety sciences are;
1802 – Parliament in England passed legislation at improving workers welfare.
1867 – American factories started the use of factory inspectors to ensure safety of factory workers.
1911 – The first workman’s Compensation Act was passed in Wisconsin, USA.
1974 – British parliament passed the Health and Safety at Work Act. This Act was also vital for Nigeria.
1980 – European Economic Community (EEC) published directive on the protection of workers from risk; related to exposure to chemicals, physical and biological agents at work.
1989 – EEC specific directive on employers obligations for improving the safety and health of workers.
Back Home: Nigeria as a nation has issued several safety regulations and guidelines dealing with general and specific sectors of economy. Some of these are;
v Workman Compensation Decree 1987
v The Factories Decree 1987
v The Mineral Oils (Safety) Regulations of 1963 Revisited in 1995.
v The Federal Environmental Protection Agency Establishment Decree 1988.
v The Road Traffic Law and Federal RoadSafety Commission – 1988.
4.0 FEATURES OF INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
4.1 The main features involved in the industrial revolution were technological, socio-economical and cultural.
4.1.1 Technological features:
v The use of new basic materials, for example iron, steel.
v The use new agency sources including both fuels and motive power such as coal, steam engine, electricity and the internal combustion engine.
v The invention of new machines such as the spinning jenny and the power loom for increasing product.
v A new organization of work known as the factory system which entails increased division of labour and specialization of functions.
v Increased application of science to industrial technology.
4.1.2 Socio-Economic Features
v Agricultural improvement that made possible the provision of food for a larger non-agricultural population.
v Economic changes that resulted in wider distribution of wealth and increased international trade.
v Political changes reflecting the shift in economic power.
v Social changes including growth of cities.
4.1.3 Cultural Features
v The workers acquired new distinctive skills.
v The workers tasks shifted from being a craftsman working with hand tools to machine operator subject to factory discipline.
The word revolution therefore, suggests sudden, violent, uprising emergent change whereas the transformation was to a large extent gradual.
5.0 SURVEY OF SOURCES OF COMMON ACCIDENTS
5.1 Apart from death, through illness, the other quickest means human can attract death is by engaging in unsafe acts. Unsafe acts ranges from removing a pot of boiling water from fire with bare hands, to being careless on the highway while driving. Even walking through a factory with flying dress or apparel exposes the individual to dangers.
6.0 THE INDUSTRY AND SAFETY
6.1 Industry can generally be defined as any environment where work/duties are carried out for achieving a specific goal. The productivity of any industry world seriously depend on the existing work/ environmental conditions. An industry comprises the workers, materials and machinery (Equipment).
6.1.1 Industrial Safety:
Industrial safety therefore, could be defined as a practice or science of making a work environment or working process devoid of avoidable danger, injury, damage and/ or ill-health. Generally, it is all about the health, safety, environment and the security of the entire workforce (HSES).
Injuries caused by accidents are preceded by unsafe acts/ conditions, while ill-health results from unsafe exposure to industrial materials and activities. Therefore, safety in the industry should be concerned with freedom from conditions that posses the potential for causing harm, injury to workers and/ or damage to materials and equipment.
6.2 Accidents prevention and Control
According to the Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals (2003), General safety measures, also called good housekeeping, is defined as an orderly arrangement of operations, tools, equipment, storage facilities, and supplies. It is a practical method of getting high productivity, low accident rates and improved employee morale.
6.2.1 Safety Measures include:
i. Clean up the workplace, to remove litter, trash, dirt and accumulated junk.
ii. Put tools back in the rack or tool box when through with them, and not have them scattered on the floor.
iii. Keep floors, guagways, passages and staircases clean and free from oil or grease and clear of all obstructions.
iv. Provide suitable bins for the disposal of cleaning materials, oil rigs, cotton waste and other refuse.
v. Repair loose steps, unstable handrails and loose walkways.
vi. Keep water, air and other service hoses coiled up when not in use.
vii. Cooperate with material handling crew to see that temporary storage areas are positively identified and easy to use.
viii. Permit nothing to be stored on window edges or hung from walls, even temporarily.
ix. Check equipment that use coolants to ensure that oil, coolant or water does not leak on the floor. See that absorbents are handy for soaking up spilled liquids.
x. Be sure flammable solvents are kept in approved containers and are used only when needed.
xi. Encourage employees to report conditions that contribute to disaster.
xii. Review accident records to determine if facility housekeeping was a contributing factor.
xiii. Most importantly, set a good example; Do not hesitate to pick up unused odds and ends or litter from the floor and put them in the dustbin. This impresses people who work for you.
6.3 Advantages of Good Housekeeping:
A well planned and administered housekeeping programme brings immediate and long-term results. Some of which are:
i. Reduced operating cost: Once an operation is clean, less time and effort is required and the cost of operation is reduced.
ii. Increased Production: Good housekeeping eliminates interference or delay in production, thereby increasing productivity.
iii. Conservation of material and parts: Unused materials and parts are stored and conserved instead of leaving them to waste. They are used as improvise or reconstructed for other uses.
iv. Better Use of Floor Space: Clean areas permit free movement of operators and afford easy access to machines and equipment.
v. Low Accident Rate: A well cleaned environment and orderly arrangement of materials/ equipment lowers accidents rates.
vi. Save Production Time: The time that is usually wasted searching for ill-kept tools, parts or materials is saved.
vii. Improved Employee Morale: Clean surrounding and comparative freedom from injury improves employee morale and enhances respect for the company’s safety programme.
6.4 Safety Equipment (Personal Protective Equipment)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires that employers conduct a hazard assessment to identify the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for each work activity.
6.4.1 Types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
1. Head Protection: Helmets or Hard hats are designed to protect the head, skull and brain from vertical impact, horizontal impact and in some cases contact with electricity. Safety hats shall be non-metallic and of international standard.
2. Eye Protection: There are four types of eye and face protection. These are: spectacles, goggles, face shield and hoods. They protect the eye and face from chemical splashes, gases, vapour, foreign bodies blood and body fluids in the operating theatre. Infrared light and microwave, sparkling light etc.
3. Hearing Protector: Hearing protectors are generally designed to block the air conduction path that noise takes into the ear. It should be chosed to protect sound above 85dB. (decibel).
They are in forms of disposable and non-disposable, earmuffs (attached to helmets).
Selection criteria are:
i. It should be capable of attenuating sound pressure.
ii. Acceptance to users
iii. Comfortable to users
iv. Fit the worker
4. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE): There are two types of respiratory equipment. These are air purified respirators and air supplied respirators.
5. Hand Protection (Upper Arm): The hands are most frequently injured part of the body. The PPE (hand gloves) is used in protecting the hands against a variety of hazards, such as abrasion, laceration, incision (cuts) puncture, avulsion, chemical and thermal burns, corrosion etc.
Depending on the work done; Different types of gloves worn are: rubber gloves, PVC polymer, leather gloves, cloth gloves.
6. Foot (Leg) Protection (Lower Arm): Protective footwear are designed to protect the feet against injuries resulting from a variety of hazardous such as falling objects, rolling objects, objects that can pierce the sole, corrosive chemicals, electricity, burns from malton metals etc.
The most commonly used form of protective footwear is the steel toe-shoe (Booth).
7. Protective Clothing (Skin Protection): There are different types of skin protective wears depending on the hazard. They may be in form of coveralls and aprons. These protective clothing are designed for passing through flames and fire with in built breathing equipment.
6.5 Safety Signs and Symbols
Safety signs are common sights in all industrial workplaces. There are sings and symbols for the fire safety, electrical, chemical, biological and other hazards. Every such safety sign however must have certain composition in order to be an effective workplace safety sign.
Safety signs are visual alerting device for a potential hazard, each safety sign being made up of a key components to convey this message effectively in an emergency. All safety signs need a signal word and a message panel or pictorial symbol in specific colours that alert and inform workers and observers of cautions, dangers and hazards. The word has to be printed inside a field of a certain colour. The colour and word combination are:
v Danger and red; Both the word and the colour need to signal an immediate hazard that can result in death or serious injury.
v Warning and orange; warning printed in orange tells observers of a potential hazard that could result in death or serious injury.
v Caution with Yellow; Caution and yellow warns of a potential hazard that could cause minor or moderate injury.
v Green; Green is for safety equipment identification and can be used to label all safety equipment, first aid kits and emergency egress.
Apart from signal words, industrial safety signs are always in rectangular shape and have vertical or horizontal wordings with accompanying symbols or pictorials. However, not all are rectangular some chemical safety signs such as flammable materials are usually diamond shaped.
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Ndukwu C. Benjamin, Onwugbuta C. Godpower (2007). Principles of Safety Sciences. Davidstones Publishers Ltd.
Ndukwu B. G. Onwugbuta G. C. Ndukwu G. U (2009). Elements of indsutiral safety. Davidstone Publishers Ltd.