Physical Agents That Exposes Health and Safety Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

physical agents that exposes health and safety hazards to workers within the work places. Some of the physical agents are noise, vibrations, explosive atmospheres, electromagnetic fields, ionizing radiations as well as optical radiation. It should be noted that there are huge risks that are associated with these physical agents and unless measures are taken to contain the situation, serious health and safety risks may occur. There are also a number of directives that have laid down the minimum requirements aimed at protecting the workers.

From this report, it has been noted that the various hazards that are associated with the construction work include dust, hard physical labor, vibration, chemical vapors, radon as well as atmospheres lacking oxygen. Similarly, construction work is always done in pressurized environments. Therefore, underground casuals are exposed to serious risks as well as fatal injuries. Other physical hazards are exceptional as far as underground work is concerned. They include workers being struck by machineries or workers being electrocuted by machineries. Others include the burial of workers by the fall of roofs or sometimes cave-ins as well as workers being injured or asphyxiated by explosions or fires. Operations from tunneling may result into unexpected water impoundments. This may result into floods as well as drowning.

The various physical agent risks that workers may be exposed to Physical hazards

Physical hazards occur in all construction projects. The hazards are among others cold and heat, noise, vibration, radiation, as well as barometric pressure. Generally, construction work has to be conducted in extreme cold or heat, in rainy, windy, foggy or snowy weather or during the night. Similarly, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and extreme barometric pressure are usually encountered.

Construction has also been transformed into a mechanized activity. This has made it to be very noisy. Noise usually originates from all kinds of engines like air compressors, vehicles as well as cranes, rivet guns, winches, nail guns, pneumatic hammers, paint guns, sanders, power saws, planers, routers, explosives among others. Generally, noise is experienced when demolition projects are underway. This generally affects the individuals who are operating the machines that are making noise, as well as the individuals who are close to the machine.

Pneumatic hammers earth-moving machines as well as many other huge mobile machines makes workers to vibrate, both segmentally and wholly.

Heat as well as cold hazards usually arises majorly due to the fact that large proportion of construction is carried out in the open which is the major source of cold and heat hazards. Workers who are roofing are always unprotected from the heat of the sun. Similarly, the individuals who are operating the heavy equipment usually sit next to the hot engines exposing them to heat. Again, a number of workers conduct their work in cabs which are enclosed without windows or ventilation. The sun as well as electric arc welding are the major sources of non-ionizing ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Ionizing radiation exposure is uncommon, however, it may take place with x-ray scrutiny of welds, for instance, or it might take place with gadgets like the flow meters which make use of radioactive isotopes. It should be noted that lasers have become very common. They may result into injury, majorly to the eyes, when the beams are intercepted.

Those who work under water together with those who work under tunnels which are pressurized usually find themselves exposed to very extreme barometric pressures. These workers usually risk developing several conditions which are linked with high pressure like decompression sickness, aseptic bone necrosis, inert gas narcosis as well as other disorders.

Strains as well as sprains are also among the highly prevalent injuries within the construction industry. Together with other habitually disabling musculoskeletal conditions (like tendinitis, low-back pain as well as carpal tunnel syndrome) take place due to awkward postures, traumatic injury, and overexertion or due to repetitive forceful movements. Falls which are caused by unguarded holes, unstable footing, as well as slips off scaffolding are highly experienced.

Explosive atmospheres 'Explosive atmospheres' refers to a mixture of substances which are flammable and also occur in the form of dust, mists or gas with air. When these substances mix under the conditions of the atmosphere, ignition will occur; combustion will hence spread to the whole unburned mixture.

Employers ought to take technical as well as organizational measures in order to prevent explosive atmospheres from forming. This will prevent the eruption of explosive atmospheres. It will also minimize the outcomes of all explosions in a manner that will make the workers to be safe (Stellman, 1998).

Employers have to make sure that the documents that describe the measures that are taken to prevent explosion of the atmosphere are updated.

The risk of mechanical vibration

Mechanical vibration also poses serious risks to workers. This is because it can result into neurological, musculoskeletal, as well as vascular disorders. Directives should be set out so as to ensure the enhancement of the protection of all workers from the numerous risks which are involved. The directives should also provide minimum health as well as safety requirements.

Noise exposure

Exposure to loud noise is also another risk which workers are exposed to. Directives should be provided to regulate the limit of exposure. Employers ought to assess and, when necessary, they should measure noise levels of all workers. When the risks that are associated with noise exposure can't be prevented through other means, personal hearing protectors which are properly fitting have to be availed to all workers.

Electromagnetic fields

Other than the risks which are mentioned above, a number of workers are also exposed to electromagnetic fields. The values of exposure should be limited. Similarly, 'action values' or values above which employers must take the measures specified in the Directive. Employers ought to devise and also to implement action plans aimed at preventing exposures of electromagnetic fields from passing the limit for exposure.

Similarly, workers who are exposed to the risks have to receive all relevant information as well as training, majorly pertaining to the effects of the assessment of risk, the measures which are taken by employers, as well as safe working conditions (Lupica, 2011).

Artificial optical radiation exposure

Optical radiation includes infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation (UV), visible light as well as lasers. It is a kind of radiation which may interact with individuals in a manner that may vary depending on the wavelength of the radiation. Workers should be protected from the numerous risks which are connected to this hazard. The restriction guidelines dealing with exposures should carefully be followed. A number of guidelines have been provided by International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The guidelines which are scientifically-based were designed so as to minimize the health effects which may occur under very high exposure levels. It should be noted that artificial optical radiation usually has hostile effects, both on the skin as well as on the eyes. Workers have to receive relevant information as well as training, for instance information on how they can use protective equipment (Health and Safety Executive, 2008).

Risks that may arise from ionizing radiation

Another risk that is associated with granite is radioactive elements that it contains. Though granite appears to be beautiful it has a number of radioactive materials. It contains potassium, uranium, as well as thorium. These radioactive elements will pose huge risks to the individuals who will be dealing with the construction work (Kay, n.d).

Radiation and radon in granite is generally intertwined since radon comes from radioactive elements. All granites have given levels of radioactive elements within them. Granite usually gives off radiation upon the decay of its radioactive materials. Despite the fact that the concentration of uranium is not highly concentrated to make granite a uranium ore, the leaching and erosion of granite has helped produce most of the uranium ore deposits around the world.

Granite generally produces huge quantities of dust. Besides, it results into an increase in random gas levels. The two issues have been connected to lung cancer incidents, including mesothelioma as well as silicosis. To curb this, different countries have come up with their own regulations concerning the quantities of dust as well as gas which will be produced from the construction as granite will be dug.


Graphitic zones generally have very alarming levels of particulates which are generated as they are being drilled and crushed from the underground to facilitate the building of the foundation. Due to this, areas covered by graphite are depicted as hazard zones. Besides, when the workers are exposed to particulate pollution, together with the unavailability of protection gadgets, the workers will be predisposed to a number of respiratory ailments.

Considering the number of health risks which are connected to the inhalation of particulate material, environmental impact evaluation ought to be mandated for every construction. Compliance checking visits to construction sites ought to be carried out routinely in order to reduce the harmful effects of construction operations on the health of human beings and also to the environment. Construction companies…

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