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Impacts frontline supervisors have on workplace safety culture (e.g. Production vs Safety pressures) Essay Example

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Table of Contents

3Introduction 1.0

3Types of Asbestos 2.0

5Sources of Asbestos 3.0

6Health and Environmental Effects of Asbestos 4.0

7Legislation for Asbestos 5.0

8Managing Asbestos Problem 6.0

10Conclusion 7.0

11References 8.0

  1. Introduction

In the recent times, technological innovations and development have improved work operational efficiency (Li., et al, 2015). While some entities still operate using traditional ways some of which expose workers to various types of health and safety risks, some new technological innovations further enhance these risks (Liu, Cheresh & Kamp, 2013). As a result, different companies have developed strategies such as ergonomic analysis and knowledge management in order to take care of the workers safety. As such, this report examines various work safety risks and challenges and how they can be managed.

Challenges in handling asbestos, have for a long time, presented safety risks and challenges to different organizations (Ryan, Kuhl & Ware, 2014). Asbestos fibres are associated with health risks some of which are extremely fatal. The National Broadband Network layout project in Australia conducted by Telstra Company is an example of a case that was marred with challenges in handling asbestos found in the old telco pits resulting to a series of legal issues (Alizadeh, Sipe & Dodson, 2014). Due to this, companies whose workers handle these fibres require effective strategies to protect their workers from mishandling asbestos and exposing themselves to deadly risks. This report, therefore, discusses the health and environmental impacts of asbestos and organization’s responsibilities in dealing with the potential risks.

  1. Types of Asbestos

There are six unique substances which are classified in the amphibole and serpentine mineral families which refer to unique fibres. The Toxic Sustances Control Acts (TSCA) explains these substances as asbestiform varieties which can also be classified as asbestos (Powell., et al, 2015). The following are thus considered to be types of asbestos fibres; tremolite, amosite, actinolite, chrysotile, anthophyllite and crocidolite.

Chrysotile asbestos, also referred to as white asbestos, is the most commonly uses asbestos form. It is commonly found in ceilings, roofs, walls, brake pads and floors (Liu, Cheresh & Kamp, 2013). Some studies however reveal that the safety risks through exposure to this form of asbestos are minimal unless the exposure is prolonged and frequent (Goestch, 2013).

Amphibole or brown asbestos is one of the most commercially valuable types of asbestos. Studies show that this asbestos form is more dangerous that white amphibole requiring less exposure to bring about deadly health effects (Brown, 2013).

Amosite asbestos on the other hand is used in cement sheets, for thermal insulation, floor and ceiling tiles and both plumbing and thermal insulation. This asbestos is used for these purposes since it offers good heat resistance and tensile strength (Ryan, Kuhl & Ware, 2014). The United States Environmental Protection Agency identifies amosite asbestos as the second most commonly used asbestos form in the US (Goestch, 2013).

Multiple studies and research about asbestos reveal that Crocidolite asbestos is responsible for more deaths than any other asbestos form as a result of its very thin fibres (Alizadeh, Sipe & Dodson, 2014). The fibres, once airbone, are easily inhaled hence exposing humans to fatal health risks.

Tremolite asbestos is used in most commercial products due to its strength, flexibility and heat resistance. It is commonly used in products such as insulation, paints, roofing material, plumbing material and sealants (Goestch, 2013).

Anthophyllite asbestos is a rare type of asbestos and is not commonly used in commercial products (Alizadeh, Sipe & Dodson, 2014). However, it is used in products such as talc and vermiculite which contain the mineral.

Actinolite asbestos appears in many forms and could be either compact and dense or brittle and fibrous. Actinolite is used in gardening, concrete material, insulation material and structural fire-proofing. It is also found in sealants, drywall, children toys and joint compounds (Brown, 2013).

  1. Sources of Asbestos

The exposure to asbestos happens in a wide variety of occupational and home settings (Bansal & Singh, 2015). As noted from the earlier discussion on the different type of asbestos, asbestos could be found in various commercial products which when used by humans increase their exposure to the fibres. These commercial products such as paints, insulating materials, children toys, sealants among others can therefore be considered as some of the common asbestos sources that increase human risks of exposures to asbestos fibres. Additionally, erosion of natural deposits could lead to the deposit of asbestos in water sources, hence increasing exposure by drinking asbestos-contaminated water.

On the other hand, home renovations and other construction exercises are highly hazardous due to the resultant increased exposure to asbestos fibres. Most of the commonly used building and construction material contain asbestos. As such, construction exercises and materials are sources of asbestos increasing human exposure to the fibres. As asbestos products continue deteriorating or get disturbed, for instance, through digging and drilling the microscopic asbestos fibre get in the air, increasing the risks of inhalation. These fibres can stay for hours or even days in the air thus putting people exposed to them at risk when inhaled.

The Australian National Broadband Network rollout project is an example of project that experience setbacks that led to halting of the project due to improper handling of asbestos fibres by the workers and improper disposal of the fibre (Covello & Merkhoher, 2013). Telstra Company which has been contracted to dig the telco pits and put fibre optic cables had to destroy the old pits which had lots of asbestos fibre. As a result, the digging of the old pits exposed not only the workers to asbestos fibre but also the people living around the pits as a result of improper disposal (Alizadeh, Sipe & Dodson, 2014). In some cases, the pits were blasted spreading the asbestos in air hence possibly covering longer extensive distances exposing more people to the risks of harmful exposure to the asbestos fibres.

  1. Health and Environmental Effects of Asbestos

The need for health safety is motivating in the insistence on proper handling and disposal of asbestos fibre in order to protect worker’s safety. While safety procedures are usually considered expensive hence increasing production costs, it is important to safeguard the workers who are needed in order to continuously conduct organizational operations.

Inhalation of asbestos fibre can cause a lung disease referred to as asbestosis (Li, Yu & Liu, 2014). The disease is characterized by diffuse fibrous scouring that occurs in the lungs due to the presence of asbestos fibres in the lungs. Once in the lungs, these fibres do not break down, rather stay there and impair the body’s respiratory functions (Covello & Merkhoher, 2013). Asbestosis is progressive, hence its symptoms and severity increase with time even when the asbestos exposure is halted. In the most severe cases, asbestosis results to death. Additionally, other effects of inhaling asbestos include immunological effects and pulmonary hypertension (Langevin., et al, 2013).

Several occupational studies have reported increase in levels of mesothelioma and lung cancer (Darcey & Feltner, 2014). Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the abdominal cavity and membrane linings. These studies have further reported cases of gastrointestinal cancer resulting from oral ingestion as well inhalation exposures to asbestos fibre. As such, the Environmental Protection Agency identifies asbestos as a human carcinogen, that is, an agent that causes cancer, ranking it in Group A (Carbone & Yang, 2012). The National Cancer Institute points out that out of seventy to eighty percent cancer cases that are suspected to be work related result from asbestos exposure (Li, Yu & Liu, 2014). According to OSHA asbestos exposure has no safe levels (Bansal & Singh, 2015). Exposures for short durations such as a few hours, a day or a couple of days can initiate serious health implications.

The ability to exist in the air and get inhaled as well as the ability to be carried by water makes asbestos both air and water pollutants (Baas & Burgers, 2015). It is these abilities that easily facilitate the exposure to asbestos fibre either by oral ingestion or inhalation process by human beings. Due to the nature of these fibres, it is important that asbestos containing products are well disposed in order to protect human from any unwanted exposures to the fibres (Jarvholm & Englund, 2014).

  1. Legislation for Asbestos

Recently, following the realization of the impacts of asbestos and increased awareness of the dangers resulting from exposure, different legislation measures have been enhanced in order to minimize exposure to asbestos fibres (Powell., et al, 2015).

At work places, for instance, increasing legal demands for proper training of staff on handling and disposing asbestos fibre have resulted to some changes in HR policies regarding training for companies that expose their workers to asbestos fibre (Darcey & Feltner, 2014). Such companies are expected to enforce serious measures in observing corporate social responsibility by safeguarding the environment from being contaminated with asbestos content (Liu, Cheresh & Kamp, 2013). The companies are expected to frequently conduct and provide environmental impact assessment reports regarding their operations to show the safety procedures they have in place to minimize asbestos exposure by the workers and to the public (Li., et al, 2014).

Additionally, other legislative measures regarding removal of asbestos have been enforced to minimize risks of dangerous exposure to this harmful substance (Carbone & Yang, 2012). The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association, for instance was established to provide professional assistance in the removal and disposal of asbestos as well as training asbestos handlers (Jarvholm & Englund, 2014). In line with this establishment, the law demands that removable of friable asbestos sheeting larger than ten square metres must be conducted by licensed experts (Goswami., et al, 2013).

  1. Managing Asbestos Problem

In most construction companies that deal with handling asbestos, there is high production versus safety pressures as a result of the risks resulting from asbestos fibre exposure (Langevin., et al, 2013). While some of the measures used in managing asbestos are considered expensive, in the long run, they prove to be more cost effective rather than incurring costs involved in treatment (Jarvholm & Englund, 2014). Different strategies however go a long way in reducing risks resulting from asbestos handling.

To begin with, companies can hire expert asbestos handlers to deal with constructions that involve exposure to asbestos fibre. These experts may not necessarily be required to go into the fields and perform the operations, but could be responsible for training the workers and monitoring their operations performance when dealing with asbestos fibres.

Additionally, knowledge management systems could be used in managing the asbestos problem (Goswami., et al, 2013). Effective knowledge management systems would enhance keeping information required about asbestos constructions, and facilitate transfer of knowledge within the organization. Using this knowledge, new constructors assigned with tasks to work on constructions that had asbestos are aware and knowledgeable about the procedures to use in dealing with the asbestos. The failure in asbestos handling in the NBN rollout project, for instance, was attributed to failure in knowledge management by Telstra Company (Alizadeh, Sipe & Dodson, 2014). This proves that effective knowledge management can minimize risks associated with workers exposure to asbestos.

Furthermore, construction companies could make efforts to use construction material that are asbestos-free with the aims of minimizing workers exposure to products with asbestos. This is possible due to the availability of various alternative construction products that are asbestos free (Baas & Burgers, 2015). Research, innovation and development strategies can play a major role in ensuring that the usage of asbestos in making various commercial products are reduced, with the sole aims of providing safer products that do not have long term negative implications on human health when used.

  1. Conclusion

Conclusively, while several work related factors or things may expose workers to various health risks, it is possible to find reliable and effective solutions to such factors in order to improve the workers’ working environment. As such, there is need for companies to frequently examine internal operation factors that may expose their workers to safety risks with the aims of designing safety strategies.

According to this report, it is evident that construction works expose many workers to asbestos fibre. This is as a result of various products such as cement and paints used in construction that have significant amounts of asbestos content. These things expose workers who handle them to serious health risks such as lung cancer risks, mesothelioma, asbestosis among other diseases that result from either inhaling or orally consuming asbestos content.

Different legislative measures are enforced in order to protect workers and humans from harmful exposure to asbestos fibres. These measures recognize the fatal effects that are presented by exposure to asbestos hence aim at providing solutions to managing the challenge. Different strategies such as hiring asbestos handling experts, training workers and monitoring operations, effective knowledge management and use of asbestos-free content are essential in managing this problem.

  1. References

Alizadeh, T., Sipe, N., & Dodson, J. (2014). Spatial Planning and High-Speed Broadband: Australia’s National Broadband Network and Metropolitan Planning. International Planning Studies, 19(3-4), 359-378.

Baas, P., & Burgers, S. (2015). ASIA: Asbestos Stop In Asia. Respirology, 20(4), 521-521.

Bansal, S., & Singh, S. K. (2015). Sustainable Handling of Construction and Demolition (C & D) Waste.

Brown, P. (2013). Toxic exposures: contested illnesses and the environmental health movement. Columbia University Press.

Carbone, M., & Yang, H. (2012). Molecular pathways: targeting mechanisms of asbestos and erionite carcinogenesis in mesothelioma. Clinical Cancer Research, 18(3), 598-604.

Covello, V. T., & Merkhoher, M. W. (2013). Risk assessment methods: approaches for assessing health and environmental risks. Springer Science & Business Media.

Darcey, D. J., & Feltner, C. (2014). Occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos. In Pathology of asbestos-associated diseases (pp. 11-24). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Goetsch, D. L. (2013). Construction safety and health. NJ: Pearson.

Goswami, E., Craven, V., Dahlstrom, D. L., Alexander, D., & Mowat, F. (2013). Domestic asbestos exposure: a review of epidemiologic and exposure data. International journal of environmental research and public health, 10(11), 5629-5670.

Järvholm, B., & Englund, A. (2014). The impact of asbestos exposure in Swedish construction workers. American journal of industrial medicine, 57(1), 49-55.

Langevin, S. M., O’Sullivan, M. H., Valerio, J. L., Applebaum, K. M., Eliot, M., McClean, M. D., & Kelsey, K. T. (2013). Occupational asbestos exposure is associated with head and neck cancer. Cancer Research, 73(8 Supplement), 3627-3627.

Li, J., Dong, Q., Yu, K., & Liu, L. (2014). Asbestos and asbestos waste management in the Asian-Pacific region: trends, challenges and solutions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 81, 218-226.

Liu, G., Cheresh, P., & Kamp, D. W. (2013). Molecular basis of asbestos-induced lung disease. Annual review of pathology, 8, 161.

Powell, J., Jain, P., Bigger, A., & Townsend, T. G. (2015). Development and Application of a Framework to Examine the Occurrence of Hazardous Components in Discarded Construction and Demolition Debris: Case Study of Asbestos-Containing Material and Lead-Based Paint. Journal of Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste, 05015001.

Ryan, B., Kuhl, I., & Ware, R. (2014). Framework for Handling Asbestos after a Tidal Surge. Journal of environmental health, 76(6), 170.