Different workplaces are prone to different kinds of dangers. As usual, these hazards exist in various types of construction demolitions. Some of these dangers occur as a result of cuttings by sharp objects, objects falling, and some chemicals spill on our skin, personal falling, respiratory problems, and even noises from machines that causes ear impairment. Due to the above dangers, there is a need for safety precautions to be put in place. Controlling hazards is one way of ensuring employees’ good health and improve their performance. Risk management which integrates the recognition of risk and risk assessment then the development of strategies to manage it is crucial. (Gregory 2006)
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People in the construction and demolition sector are exposed to chemicals such as lead and asbestos. Asbestos and lead are dangerous to human health. They are introduced to the construction industry by installing products through spraying on fireproofing, pipe insulation, cement pipes, and ceiling tile.most workers are exposed to asbestos-containing products during the removal of these products at demolition periods or renovation aimed at maintaining buildings and other structures in good conditions. (Gregory, 2006)
The danger attached to asbestos comprises fatal diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and gastrointestinal cancer. Employees working on the removal of asbestos-containing thermal systems insulation and toweled on surfacing materials or sprayed–on materials are at greater risks than those involved in the removal of resilient floor, roofing, and ceiling materials or any other type asbestos contain materials. It is very important to control the risks of asbestos as it poses these risks to employees.
Some of the measures that should be taken are proper regulation of the area by having competent personnel on such sites, inspecting the materials before the commencement of the demolition process, and having proper inspection and supervision. To further improve on this, employees should go for training on operation and handling procedures of asbestos. Employers should provide the necessary protective clothing and equipment at the workplace.
Many occupations have the potential for high exposure to lead. Exposure to lead is one of the most common dangers that occur in many demolition companies. Lead causes workplace illness. Results from Toxic release inventory show that more than 22 million lead and 194 million kilograms of lead compounds are released on and- site in 2001. Lead has numerous adverse effects on a human being.
A short period of exposure to lead causes various health impairments and diseases by adversely affecting numerous body systems. Lead poisoning in the blood causes loss of appetite, headache, difficulty in sleeping fatigue, decreased sexual drive, and many other problems depending on the toxicity level. Lead and lead compounds are anticipated to be human carcinogens. It is associated with an increased risk of lung, bladder, and stomach cancers. (Boffeta, 1995)
The most effective way in controlling lead hazards in the workplace like in construction demolition is to minimize the exposure through good work practice, engineering controls, and use of personal protective clothing and equipment some of the good workplace practices that are fundamental for implementation includes housekeeping, periodic inspection, and maintenance of process and control equipment. The use of proper procedures and tasks together with appropriate supervision to ensure that the proper procedures are followed still will make a great difference. Observing personal hygiene will prevent direct entry of these chemical substances into the body.
People working in construction often work at high places such as the top of buildings. Fall dangers remain a serious health problem. It is one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death. Thus, it accounts for eight percent of all the deaths associated with the industry of construction demolitions. Any work at a height of more than four feet is always at risk hence needs to be protected.
In many situations, slips or trips and falls are caused by loose objects, wet spots, polished floors, uneven walking surfaces, grease, electrical cords, and open desk drawers, and damaged ladder steps. The prevention of these hazards calls for the controls such as wearing and using personal fall arrest equipment. They work also need to take precautions by installing and maintaining the perimeter of protection. The use of an unworthy ladder should strictly be discouraged by the person in charge of supervisory work. He should also make sure that all the floor openings are secure and covered if necessary within the demolition site. (Boffeta, 1995)
During the demolition of houses and high towering objects, there is a greater risk of people getting stuck in between the collapsed walls. To make sure that you are on the safe side, it is quite recommendable that you should never weak a place that seemingly may let you being surrounded by it. In an area involving a trench and excavation process, it is too risky to enter an unprotected part like a trench of 5 feet or more without adequate protective systems being put in place.
Demolition of construction may involve working in an area where there high temperatures and intense heat. These working places include demolitions of road works or renovations of old roads. It also comprises heat production by the machines that are being used. such operations involving high air temperature, high humidity; direct physical conduct with hot objects, and finally radiant heat sources pose a high poten6tial of inducing heat stress.
One of the most serious health problems in a hot environment like in the demolition of roads in the direct hot sun is mental confusion other problems that are associated with heat are delirium, loss of consciousness, and convulsion which are likely to cause abrupt illness and death.heat problems can be reduced and prevented by having engineering controls such as installation of general ventilation and spot cooling at [point of high heat production. protection from direct heat by shielding from radiant heat sources reduces such hazards to a greater extent. Elimination of steam leaks from working machines and other equipment may also provide the workers with a better working environment.
Through modern technologies, the provision of improvised tools that are not too manual and personal cooling devices is of great help to the reduction of heat hazards. Employees should be educated concerning the effects of dehydration exhaustion, fainting, heat cramps, heat stroke, and salt deficiency.
Noise is not a new hazard. It has been a constant threat since the industrial revolution. Too much noise exposure causes a temporary change in hearing or a temporary ringing in your ears. These short-term problems usually go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy places. However, repeated exposures to loud noise lead to permanent, incurable hearing loss. Approximately every year, 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise in the United States.
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Noise-induced hearing loss is also one of the common occupational illnesses but it is quite much ignored because of lack of visible effects. It also develops over a long period of time, and there is no pain except in very rare cases. Prevention of the peril of noise from the workplace can be done through engineering controls like installing a muffler or building an acoustic barrier. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing protectors such as earplugs and earmuffs should be used when it is not feasible to otherwise reduce noise to a safe level. The introduction of hearing loss prevention programs for all workplaces with hazardous levels of noise is a necessity.
Many employees are unaware of the potential hazards present in the work environment. Poisonous gaseous substances are released into the environment in the area of work. Most workers do not recognize the risks of these poisonous substances occurring in form of gases. Respiration systems are affected by harmful clouds of dust, fogs, and smoke, mists, favor, and sprays. These hazards cause diseases such as cancer, lung impairment, or death. Due to the risks involved in respiration systems, prevention of such risks needs to adhere to the laid down international standards U.S. Department of Labor. (Anderson, 1998)
Welding poses enormous hazards which include many chemical applications in the workplace. These chemicals are all termed to be poisonous in the environment of human nature. Zinc is used in great quantities in the production of brass, galvanized metals, and various other alloys. Breathing of zinc oxide fumes occurs when welding or cutting on zinc-coated metals during the demolition process. Introduction to these fumes is acknowledged to cause metal fume fever, influenza.
Cadmium is used often as a rust-preventive coating on steel and also as an alloying element. Acute exposures to high concentrations of cadmium fumes can produce severe lung irritation, pulmonary edema, and in some cases, death. Long-term exposure to low levels of cadmium in the air can result in emphysema and can damage the kidneys.
Beryllium is sometimes used as an alloying element with copper and other base metals. Acute exposure to high concentrations of beryllium can result in chemical pneumonia. Long-term exposure can result in shortness of breath, chronic cough, and significant weight loss, accompanied by fatigue and general weakness.
Iron is the most important alloying element in steel manufacture. During the welding process, iron oxide fumes arise from both the base metal and the electrode. The primary acute effect of this exposure is irritation of nasal passages, throat, and lungs. Although long-term exposure to iron oxide fumes may result in iron pigmentation of the lungs, most authorities agree that these iron deposits in the lung are not dangerous.
Mercury compounds are used to coat metals to prevent rust or inhibit foliage growth). Under the intense heat of the arc or gas flame, mercury vapors will be produced. Exposure to these vapors may produce stomach pain, diarrhea, kidney damage, or respiratory failure. Long-term exposure may produce tremors, emotional instability, and hearing damage. (Anderson, 1998)
Welding and cutting of lead-bearing alloys or metals whose surfaces have been painted with lead-based paint can generate lead oxide fumes. Inhalation and ingestion of lead oxide fumes and other lead compounds will cause lead poisoning. Symptoms include metallic taste in the mouth, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal cramps, and insomnia. In time, anemia and general weakness, chiefly in the muscles of the wrists, develop. Lead adversely affects the brain, central nervous system, circulatory system, reproductive system, kidneys, and muscles.
Fluoride compounds are found in the coatings of several types of fluxes used in welding. Exposure to these fluxes may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Repeated exposure to high concentrations of fluorides in the air over a long period may cause pulmonary edema and bone damage. Exposure to fluoride clouds of dust and fumes has also produced skin rashes.
Various chlorinated hydrocarbons are used in degreasing or other cleaning operations. The vapors of these solvents are a concern in welding and cutting because the heat and ultraviolet radiation from the arc will decompose the vapors and form highly toxic and irritating phosgene gas.
Phosgene is formed by the decomposition of chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents by ultraviolet radiation. It reacts with moisture in the lungs to produce hydrogen chloride, which in turn destroys lung tissue. For this reason, any use of chlorinated solvents should be well away from welding operations or any operation in which ultraviolet radiation or intense heat is generated.
Carbon monoxide is a gas usually formed by the incomplete combustion of various fuels. Welding and cutting may produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide. In addition, welding operations that use carbon dioxide as the inert gas shield may produce hazardous concentrations of carbon monoxide in poorly ventilated areas. This is caused by a breakdown of shielding gas. (Powergen, 1996)
Ozone is produced by ultraviolet light from the welding arc. Ozone is produced in greater quantities by gas metal arc weldings like gas tungsten arc welding and plasma arc cutting. Ozone is a highly active form of oxygen and can cause great irritation to all mucous membranes. Excessive exposure can cause fluid in the lungs. Both nitrogen dioxide and ozone are thought to have long-term effects on the lungs (Powergen, 1995).
The ultraviolet light of the arc can produce nitrogen oxides from the nitrogen and oxygen in the air. Nitrogen oxides are produced by gas metal arc welding. Even greater quantities are formed if the shielding gas contains nitrogen. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the oxides formed with the greatest health effect. Dangerous concentrations can be inhaled without any immediate discomfort. High concentrations can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, and fluid in the lungs.
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Pierson, P. L. (1997): Construction and Demolition Debris: Recycling and Reuse In Washington State; Prentice Hall, New Jersey.