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NEBOSH International General Certificate Paper II Workplace hazards and Control Element 14 Chemical ! Biolo"ical Health Hazards !

Control #$estion and %ns&ers


1. A recent increase in work-related ill-health has been noticed amongst workers who use a solvent for which a workplace exposure limit (WEL has been set. a. Explain the meaning of the term !workplace exposure limit!. (" b. #ive possible reasons for the increase in work-related ill-health amongst the workers. ($ %ns&er (a %he term &workplace exposure limit& (WEL is concerned with concentrations of ha'ardous substances in the air that people breathe averaged over a specified period of time and referred to as a time weighted average. %wo time periods are used( long term () hours intended to control effects b* restricting the total intake b* inhalation over one work shift and short term (usuall* 1+ minutes to control effects that ma* be seen after a brief exposure. (b ,mportant reason for the increase in work related ill-health might have been the inade-uac* of the original risk assessment carried out for the operation or a subse-uent increase in the fre-uenc* and duration of the exposure of emplo*ees. Additionall*. the original degreasing solvent might have been replaced b* a new solvent for which no risk assessment had been carried out. /ther reasons would include a failure to carr* out health screening of new emplo*ees or to give them ade-uate training on the precautions to be observed0 an increase in the -uantit* or concentration of the solvent used0 an inade-uate or poorl* maintained local exhaust ventilation s*stem0 a failure to carr* out regular monitoring to ensure the work exposure limit was not being exceeded and a poor standard of personal h*giene on the part of the workers. ". (a ,dentif* 1/23 forms of ha'ardous substance for which respirator* protective e-uipment could be used to reduce the risk of harm. (4 (b /utline factors that could reduce the effectiveness of the respirator* protective e-uipment. (4 %ns&er (a %he forms of ha'ardous substances such as dusts. gases. vapours. mists. fume and micro-organisms. ,nstead of &forms& of ha'ardous substances. however. some candidates offered specific examples such as asbestos. (b %he factors include a reduction in batter* power0 the fitting of incorrect cartridges or a failure to replace them before saturation0 e-uipment incorrectl* fitted. perhaps due to 1

facial characteristics. or incompatibilit* with other personal protective e-uipment being worn0 the level of the ha'ard and the work rate of the individual0 inade-uate training in its use0 poor maintenance and inade-uate facilities for storage0 damage occurring during use and a failure to provide the level of monitoring and supervision to ensure the e-uipment was alwa*s used when re-uired. 5. An organisation uses small -uantities of toxic chemicals. a. ,dentif* 1/23 possible routes of entr* of toxic substances into the bod*. (4 b. Explain the difference between acute and chronic health effects. (4 c. ,dentif* the sources of information which could be used in the assessment of risk of toxic substances. (4 d. /utline the control measures that might be re-uired in order to minimise risks to workers. () Answer (a %he possible routes of entr* of toxic substances into the bod* as inhalation. ingestion. in6ection and through the skin particularl* if an open wound was present. (b %he difference between acute and chronic health effects. in the case of acute health effects. the adverse effects appear after a single or short term exposure to the agent. and the response is invariabl* rapid or immediate. ,n most cases. acute effects recede on cessation of exposure. 7hronic health effects. on the other hand. usuall* result from prolonged or repeated exposure to the agent. %he response is normall* gradual. often progressive and irreversible. and ma* go unrecogni'ed for long periods of time. (c %he sources of information such as product labels. published limit values such as work exposure limits. material safet* data sheets. the results of internal inspections and audits and monitoring and health surveillance data. 8ost answers referred onl* to data sheets and labels. (d 7ontrol measures such as the use of suitable containers for the chemicals carr*ing warning signs as to their danger0 the methods used for handling the chemicals0 procedures for the clearing up and containment of spillages0 the provision of ade-uate ventilation for the working areas and the use of personal protective e-uipment such as chemical proof gloves. e*e protection and overalls0 site rules setting out the h*giene procedures to be followed and prohibiting eating or smoking in the working areas0 setting up emergenc* procedures including first aid provision0 providing emplo*ees with instruction. information and training on the handling of toxic substances and ensuring the provision of ade-uate supervision and monitoring to check that control measures were being followed.

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(a Identif' (O)* t*pes of ha'ards for which local exhaust ventilation (LE9 would be an appropriate control measure giving an example in E%CH case of the harmful effect that might be produced. () (b O$tline the factors that ma* reduce the effectiveness of a local exhaust ventilation s*stem (LE9 . (1"

Answer (a %he ha'ards such as dust which could cause coughing. snee'ing and possible damage to the lung0 chemicals which might cause irritation and have toxic effects0 allergens which might aggravate an asthmatic condition0 microbiological substances which could cause various diseases0 asph*xiates with their abilit* to cause respirator* effects and exposure to heat often leading to heat exhaustion. Apart from dust. man* candidates were unable to identif* an* additional t*pes of ha'ard. (b %here is a range of factors that might reduce the effectiveness of a local exhaust ventilation s*stem. %he* include damage to the s*stem such as splits or holes in the ducting0 blocked or incorrect filters0 fan inefficienc* as a result of blade wear or corrosion0 initial design issues0 process changes0 unauthori'ed alterations such as an increase in the number of outlets0 incorrect use such as a failure to position the hood close enough to the source of emission0 a build up of dust in the ducting0 blocked or obstructed outlets and a failure to provide a s*stem of regular maintenance. inspection and testing. +. (a ,dentif* %:3EE forms of biological agents. (5 (b ,dentif* %:3EE possible routes of entr* into the bod* for a biological agent. (5 (c #ive %W/ control measures to reduce the risk of exposure to a biological agent. (" Answer (a ;iological agents that could have been identified include bacteria. viruses. fungi. (b <ossible routes of entr* into the bod* for a biological agent include inhalation. in6ection. ingestion. inoculation and=or in6ection and absorption through the skin or mucosal membranes. (c 7ontrol measures such as cleaning. sterili'ation and disinfection0 the use of personal protective e-uipment such as gloves. respirator* and e*e protection and an overall0 containment of the agent in a microbiological safet* cabinet0 the use of spill tra*s0 the prohibition of smoking and eating=drinking in the work area0 a good standard of personal h*giene and immuni'ation.

$. (b >escribe how the bod* ma* defend itself against the harmful effects of airborne dust. ($ (c /utline. using practical examples where appropriate. the control measures that ma* be used to reduce levels of dust in a work environment. (1? Answer (a ,dentif*ing indications of a dust problem that might include( fine deposits on surfaces. people and products0 dust particles visible in the air. plant issues such as blocked filters0 complaints from the workforce of discomfort and irritation0 and cases of ill-health reported or detected b* health surveillance. (b :armful effects of airborne dust. %he ma6orit* mentioned coughing and snee'ing but onl* the better informed referred to the filtering effect of nasal hairs and to the role of mucus in the respirator* tract and bronchi. which allows dust particles to be trapped and then carried upwards b* tin* hairs (cilia . 1ine dust particles reaching the bronchiotes ma* be sub6ect to the engulfing action of scavenging cells (macrophages and absorbed into the bloodstream. >amage to the e*es ma* be prevented b* the action of tear ducts. causing the e*es to !water! and dust particles to be removed. (c %he control hierarch* and referred to control measures such as( elimination (eg b* introducing pre-formed components or outsourcing the dust* operation 0 substitution (eg of powder .b* granules. li-uid or paste 0 isolation of the process in a separate room0 enclosure (in a glove box. for instance 0 the provision of local exhaust ventilation0 and suppression b* damping down and carr*ing out cleaning operations b* vacuuming rather than sweeping. @. A person is emplo*ed to la* carpet tiles using a solvent-based adhesive. ,n relation to the use of the adhesive in such circumstances( (a ,dentif* the possible effects on health (4 (b /utline the control measures that should be considered. (4 %ns&er (a %he possible health effects include skin and e*e irritation. dermatitis. headaches. nausea and di''iness. together with other possible. and more serious. effects such as narcosis and loss of consciousness. (b %he control measures should include the possible substitution of the adhesive for a less toxic or volatile one. using the minimum amount of the substance for the 6ob. the use of a respirator and other personal protective e-uipment (eg overalls and gloves . good personal h*giene. and the provision of information. instruction and training to the fitter. 9entilation to work area.