Prolonged exposure to excessive noise can be detrimental to human hearing. This can lead to hearing impairment or hearing loss.
Employers should be responsible in identifying whether their employees are exposed to excessive noise levels at the workplace. This is stated in the Occupational Safety & Health Act, 1994 under the Occupational Safety & Health (Noise Regulation) 2019
Excessive Noise Levels means :
In the event, the above applies, then the Employer has to engaged a Noise Risk Assessor to conduct a Noise Risk Assessment at the workplace.
The Noise Risk Assessor will carry out the assessment using selected equipment such as Dosimeters and Sound Level Meter. Upon completion of the assessment the Assessor will prepare and submit a detailed report to the Employer. The report will include findings of and recommendation made by the Noise Risk Assessor in respect noise risk assessment which has been carried out.
The Noise Risk Assessment must be repeated by the Employer in the following circumstances:
Sound Level Meter
Employees spend a substantial time of their daily life at the workplace. They risk of being exposed to potential airborne hazards in the form of dust/fibre particle, vapours, gases, fumes, smoke and mists.
Prolonged exposure to chemicals is hazardous to human health. Therefore, employers are required to engage a registered Hygiene Technician I to conduct the exposure monitoring at the workplace. This is required under The Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2000 (USECHH Regulations 2000) which is a set of regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA 1994).
The Chemical Exposure Monitoring is the measurement of employee exposure to work-related airborne chemicals that have the potential to affect the health and well-being of workers. This monitoring is an important component of Occupational Safety & Health, as this determines the types of controls required to remove or reduce the hazard to acceptable levels; and therefore, reduce the potential risk to employees’ health.
Chemical Health Risk Assessment (CHRA) is an assessment that also falls under the scope of The Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2000 (USECHH Regulations 2000).
This assessment is required to be conducted by a DOSH registered Assessor, at the workplace arising from the use, handling, storage or transportation of chemicals hazardous to health. The purpose of the assessment is to identify and evaluate risks involved and the level of exposure to chemicals handled by employees’ at the workplace.
The CHRA assessment involves the following:
Local Exhaust Ventilation or LEV is an engineering control system designed and used to protect employees from hazardous airborne substances at the workplace. This system works by capturing the emission at source and transporting it to a safe emission point or to a filter/scrubber.
The purpose of a LEV System Testing & Examination is the measure of the efficiency of the engineering control system in removing hazardous contaminants from the workplace. The testing must be conducted annually, by a Hygiene Technician II, registered with DOSH and in compliance to The Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2000 (USECHH Regulations 2000).
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is the air quality within or inside buildings and structures. The quality of indoor air of a building is important for occupants comfort and also health.
In general, we tend to perceive that air pollution occurs only outdoors. In actual fact, pollution can occur indoors. Unlike outdoor air, indoor air does not recycle continuously causing it to trap and build up pollutants.
Gas and respirable particulates (dust) in the air are the primary sources that contribute to poor IAQ. Common sources of indoor air pollution include inadequate ventilation, poorly maintained HVAC systems, vehicle exhaust emissions, building materials, furniture, tobacco smoke, biological organisms (mold and fungi), solvents, volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners and pesticides.
These harmful pollutants may affect human health, comfort, or work performance thus contributing to building – related illnesses. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. These disorders lead to low productivity, absenteeism and impaired decision making.
As a result of increased awareness of the health risks of poor indoor air quality, the government has introduced the Industry Code of Practice on Indoor Air Quality 2010 enforcing monitoring on employers or building owners. It is one of the general duties as prescribed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 [Act 514] for the employer and an occupier (including building owner and building management) to provide a safe workplace to their employees or other person than his employees (occupant).
Working in environments which have high temperatures can cause harm to the human body. Employees who are exposed to hot or high temperatures in their working environment may be at risk of heat stress.
Heat stress occurs when the human body is unable to cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. This can lead to heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke, which in turn can lead to increase of occupational illnesses and injuries.
|Some Factors That Put Workers at Greater Risk of Heat Related Illnesses|
Heat illness can contribute to decreased performance, lost productivity can contribute to decreased performance and lost productivity. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees.
Employers are encouraged to carry out Heat Stress Monitoring in order to identify and assess workplace conditions and job requirements of affected employees. Engineering and work practice controls should be implemented such as :
Exposure to noise in excess of the limits can lead to hearing loss. Therefore, where a Noise Risk Assessment report indicates that the employee is exposed to excessive noise exceeding the limit specified by the regulation, the employer shall engage a DOSH approved Audiometric Testing Centre to conduct the Audiometry.
An Audiometry is the testing of employees’ ability to hear sounds at different frequencies. The test is conducted by a trained technician using an electronic equipment known as an audiometer.
The purpose of audiometry for employees is to help determine if he/she is at risk of having occupational hearing loss. In addition, audiometry also helps determine whether noise control measures being implemented are effective in preventing occupational hearing loss.
Employees are exposed to chemicals in the workplace is through breathing substances into their lungs. Some chemicals do little more than cause discomfort and irritation to the nose or throat. Others may cause severe physical damage and lung disease.
Lung Function Test (LFT), also known as Spirometry is tool is used to evaluate employees’ respiratory health in medical surveillance programs. In addition, it is also used to screen employees for their ability to perform certain tasks. LFT results can play a central role in decisions about employee job assignments and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) and in the assessment of exposure-related health effects.
LFT is conducted using an instrument known as a Spirometer by a trained technician. A spirometer measures the volume of air entering and leaving the lungs. Results are then reviewed by a DOSH registered Occupational Health Doctor (OHD).
Lung Function Test
Medical surveillance can be defined as monitoring and assessment of employees for the purpose of identifying changes in health status due to occupational exposure to chemicals hazardous to health.
Where a Chemical Health Risk Assessment (CHRA) indicates the need for a medical surveillance programme, an employer is required to engage an Occupational Health Doctor (OHD), registered with DOSH to carry out the surveillance. This programme is for employees that are exposed or likely to be exposed to chemicals hazardous to health.
Chemicals hazardous to health are listed in Schedule II (Subregulation 27(3)) of the Occupational Safety and Health (Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health) Regulations 2000 (USECHH Regulations 2000).
The main purpose of medical surveillance is to detect and eliminate the underlying causes such as hazards or exposures to chemicals under Schedule II, thus enabling protective and preventive measures to be taken.
This programme includes qualitative and quantitative methods to determine the level of risk. Qualitative methods involve identifying, examining and evaluating the workplace environment. While quantitative method used is Biological Monitoring (usually urine, blood and lung function)
Being the Occupational Safety & Health specialist, we are able provide consultation on related issues for compliance with DOSH regulations.
In addition, we also provide the required training related to Occupational Safety & Health such as :