Speakers: Soh Shi Hui and Susatyo Adi Wibowo
Topic: Tank Gauging: A Case Study in Health Risk Reduction
Tank gauging is conducted monthly to ensure that inventories are accurate. For some products, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is needed. Carrying SCBA (typically 12 kg) up the stairs to the top of the tank requires some physical exertion and in tropical climate, heat stress can be an issue.
In this case study, tank gauging is a focus area for health risk reduction. Based on feedback from business line on the challenges in the use of SCBA for tank gauging, the need for SCBA was re-evaluated. The results were communicated to the risk owner who set up a team comprising of engineers, process technicians and the Industrial Hygienist to review options for exposure reduction that reduce reliance on SCBA. A semi-enclosed tank gauging system was proposed by the team. The solution was trialed in one business unit. Upon successful implementation, it was adopted at other business units.
This case study demonstrates the use of site feedback in risk discussion with the risk owner and how successful implementation in one unit can be replicated. By working closely with the business line, Industrial Hygienists can assist in finding risk-based and sustainable control solutions to enhance worker protection.
Speaker: James Davies, University of Wollongong
Topic: Formaldehyde Exposure and Mortuary Workers: A Dead Cert Project!
Formaldehyde is widely used in many workplaces. In the funeral industry, a diluted water soluble formulation (known as ‘Formalin’) is extensively used for embalming purposes as a disinfectant and a preservative agent. Formaldehyde has been classified under the GHS as a Category 1B carcinogen (IARC: Group 1 carcinogen); is a skin sensitisation agent; and is toxin which can have acute effects on the respiratory system and skin.
In the context of the funeral industry, various levels of embalming treatments are used to prevent decomposition based on the wishes of the deceased and their families. Depending on the requirements, small amounts of formalin may be used for short term and small area preservation (e.g. viewing) through to large amounts for long term ‘storage’ in crypts.
For some of these applications, significant amounts of formalin is used over long periods of time (up to 8 hours) with the opportunity for worker exposure high. In addition, there are a wide variety of workplace conditions and environments where mortuary work is undertaken which impact exposure. Morticians have reported adverse health effects such as respiratory illnesses including shortness of breath, bronchitis, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing.
This workplace research project investigates formaldehyde exposure for morticians with the intention of improving standards, implementation of practical controls to reduce exposure (including elimination of formaldehyde and replacement with glycerine) and increasing awareness of formaldehyde exposure for the Funeral Industry.
Speaker: Gregor Riese, Principal Consultant
Topic: Hazards associated with in-building decentralised wastewater treatment systems
The rapid development of sewage treatment and water technologies, including membrane bioreactors and remote real-time monitoring of systems, has opened up sewer mining as a viable option for large commercial buildings to access treated sewage for non-potable building uses (e.g. cooling towers, toilet flushing).
The development and installation of these systems into large commercial buildings as part of the push for greater environmental sustainability (e.g. Green Star and NABERS ratings) has created a unique work environment for the maintenance workers and building managers looking after these systems. In the process, they have taken the previously well-understood hazards and risk management methods associated with large-scale centralised sewage treatment and applied new technologies to create compact systems that fit into the basements of some of the most iconic buildings in our capital cities.
This paper will present the results of a study into the workplace hazards associated with managing and maintaining onsite and decentralised wastewater systems in two large commercial buildings in Sydney.
Concurrent Session 2 - Dusts
Monday 3 December | 14:00 - 15:10
Speaker: Anita Aiezza, Principal Consultant
Topic: The important role of the occupational hygienist in establishing a collaborative global Asbestos Exhibit & Resource Centre
The eradication of asbestos from society is a positive outcome; however, along with this is the potential lost opportunity to preserve industrial history, study, research, educate and raise awareness of the asbestos containing materials used widely in the past and in the present day, in Australia and throughout the world. There is also a risk that, through the passage of time, knowledge of the widespread use and legacy of such a hazardous material may also be eradicated and forgotten.
Many occupational Hygienists have knowledge, skills and experience in asbestos use and risk management, including safe handling practices. They are often well connected with a broad range of groups that have an interest in asbestos, and are well placed to collect, record, preserve, handle and store asbestos minerals, materials and products.
This paper outlines current efforts by Melbourne-based Occupational Hygienists to collect and preserve asbestos minerals, asbestos containing materials and products used across a broad range of environments, and related historic documentation. The current and potential uses and benefits of the asbestos collection are presented. These include improved identification for risk control and abatement purposes; identification of past and future asbestos exposed cohorts; identification of exposure sources that were unknown or forgotten; enhanced understanding of the context in which the production of asbestos containing materials were allowed to proliferate, and access to asbestos fibres for clinical research. Professions and groups envisaged to have an interest in the collection are identified and the vision for the establishment of a collaborative global Asbestos Exhibit & Resource Centre™ is discussed.
Speaker: Candice Dix, Hygiene Specialist, Rio Tinto
Topic: Real-time dust monitoring to prioritise and assess control effectiveness in processing plants
Dust is generated and dispersed into the air in mining operations through crushing, grinding, screening and material transfer. If not adequately controlled, airborne dust concentrations can exceed exposure standards and pose a health risk to those working in proximity. Personal exposure monitoring is conducted to assess similar exposure group (SEG) conformance with respirable and inhalable dust exposure standards. As gravimetric sampling is limited to a single time weighted average result, it is challenging to identify exact dust sources so that effective solutions can be identified and implemented. For purposes of this project, real-time personal dust monitoring was conducted in the Processing Plants of Iron Ore mining operations using TSI AM520 Personal Aerosol Monitors coupled with video footage from GoPro cameras mounted to a hard hat. The real-time dust and video data was imported into the Enhanced Video Analysis of Dust Exposures (EVADE) software program to be viewed simultaneously. This analysis allows for the identification and prioritisation of dust sources and the assessment of control effectiveness through comparison of data pre and post control implementation. Occupational hygiene professionals partnered with engineers to interpret the data and provide practical recommendations to management. Real-time technology has provided a solution to identifying and prioritising dust sources in Processing Plants which has led to the development of targeted control plans to reduce dust emissions in Iron Ore mining operations. This technology also lends itself in the assessment of control effectiveness. Personal exposure monitoring will continue in order to assess the impact on SEG exposures.
Speaker: Akemi Ichikawa, Senior Analytical Chemist, SafeWork NSW
Topic: Comparison of the Analysis of Respirable Crystalline Silica in Workplace Air by X-ray Diffraction and Infrared Spectroscopy
Excessive exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) can result in the development of a range of adverse health effects, including silicosis and lung cancer. Internationally, RCS occupational exposure limits are being lowered, putting pressure on the capabilities of the analytical techniques used. X-ray Diffraction (XRD) or Fourier Transfer Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) are the two predominant techniques used to determine the amount of crystalline silica (α-Quartz) in air. Therefore, it is timely to evaluate these two techniques.
Pure analytical standards of a-quartz and more than 200 real workplace air samples from a variety of locations were analysed by the “direct on filter” method using XRD and FT-IR techniques.
This paper will compare the analytical test results on the basis of sensitivity, the effects of the loading of total dust on the filter, the linearity and range of the techniques and the interferences encountered in each technique. A good correlation was found between both of the analytical techniques with a correlation coefficient of r2 = 0.97.
Concurrent Session 3 – Physical Hazards
Monday 3 December | 14:00 - 15:10
Speaker: Dr Berihun M Zeleke. Research Fellow, Monash University
Topic: Wi-Fi and base station exposure in Victorian workplaces
Population Health Research on Electromagnetic Energy (PRESEE), Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, VIC, Australia, 2 School of Psychology, Illawarra Health & Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Australia; PRESEE, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
As part of a study investigating risk perception to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Energy (RF-EME) in the community, we completed an RF dosimetry survey of participants (N=63) in various workplaces in Melbourne, Victoria. These workers were not designated as RF exposed workers and the workplaces consisted of mainly office and administrative jobs. Measurements were undertaken with ExpoM RF dosimeters measured across 16 bands of the RF spectrum as part of a 24 hour measurement. The sampling rate was one sample every 10 seconds.
Mean (SD) exposures for office workers and healthcare workers to Wi-Fi of ISM 2.4GHz was 64.6 (14.9) μW/m2 and 26.6(22.2) μW/m2, respectively. For base station exposure at GSM 900MHz downlink, mean exposure for Office workers and healthcare workers were 28.8(18.6) μW/m2 and 25.7(20.0) μW/m2, respectively.
We found that the levels of exposure were similar to those reported in recent surveys in kindergartens and schools in Melbourne, Victoria. All RF broadband and narrow band measurements resulted in less than 1% of the “General Public limit”, specified in the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) RPS3 Guidelines: “Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields- 3kHz to 300 GHz”.
Speaker: Venessa Thelan, Occupational Hygienist
Topic: Evolution of a Heat Stress management program at a large LNG operation in the Middle East – a Qatar Experience
Summers in Qatar start around April and continue into October each year, with at least half of that period exhibiting extreme weather conditions including temperatures above 50◦C, relative humidity up to 100% and a heat index that regularly exceeds 54◦C. The Qatar Ministry of Civil Service and Housing Decision No. 16 (2007) is legislation intended to protect workers from this extreme climate, and prohibits working under the sun or in uncovered places between the hours of 1130am and 3pm from June 15th to August 31st each year. At the time of writing this paper, Oil and Gas companies in Qatar were exempt from this restriction as long as they could demonstrate a robust program of health risk assessment and heat stress management that significantly mitigates the risk. One of many challenges in implementing such a program at this workplace is the fact that the majority of the workforce observe fasting rituals during the holy month of Ramadan, and so important controls such as fluid intake are not an option. This is particularly problematic when Ramadan falls during the peak summer months of July and August.
This paper will discuss the evolution of a Heat Stress Management Program at a large LNG operation in the Middle East, Qatar, and will share the multiple layers of control strategies implemented to mitigate worker exposure to heat stress. This paper will also tackle the modification of these strategies over time to achieve business success whilst ensuring the health, safety and well-being of employees involved in various occupations, majority of whom are migrant workers.
Speaker: Cameron Lawrence, ANRDR Manager
Topic: Australian National Radiation Dose Register - A Review
The Australian National Radiation Dose Register (ANRDR), launched in 2011, is a centralised database designed for the collection, storage and maintenance of radiation dose records for occupationally exposed workers. In line with international best practice, these records must be maintained until the worker attains the age of 75, and until at least 30 years after cessation of work resulting in occupational exposure.
The ANRDR provides a single uniform national approach to the management of radiation dose records and safeguards their longevity in a central location to ensure they remain available to workers on request. The analysis of data in the ANRDR provides valuable information for regulators and industry to facilitate optimisation of radiation protection programs.
The ANRDR is expanding to capture radiation dose records for all occupationally exposed workers. Currently, the expansion activities are focused on engagement with the medical sector. The ANRDR now has full coverage of the uranium mining and milling industry and partial coverage of the mineral sands mining and processing industry, as well as Commonwealth organisations.
This paper will provide an update on expansion activities, analysis of existing data, and a review of the processes and challenges of implementation of the ANRDR.
Concurrent session 4
Tuesday 4 December | 14:00 - 15:10
Speaker: Daniel Drolet, retired from the Québec Research Institute in Occupational Health and Safety (IRSST) in Montréal, Canada
Topic: ProtecPo, a Web-based Tool Using the Hansen Solubility Parameters for the Selection of Protective Polymer Materials against Chemicals
ProtecPo is a Web-based tool that allows to select the most appropriate polymeric material(s) candidate(s) for skin pro-tection against a chemical or mixture of chemicals. The recommendations are based on the calculation of physicochemi-cal interactions between chemicals and protective polymeric materials. They are based on the principle that the more a polymer material is soluble in a chemical, the less resistant the material will be. The Hansen three-dimensional solubility parameters (HSP) theory, based on the calculated differences between Dispersion, Polar and Hydrogen bond forces from a chemical (or mixture) and a polymer, was used. A database of HSP values and the ones of five of the most used protective polymer materials that were experimentally obtained in this study were used in the predictions. An algorithm was developed and validated by comparing ProtecPo’s predictions with experimental results from the scientific literature or in guides published by glove manufacturers. The predictions were also compared to experimental data originated from this project. The new version of ProtecPo includes the following new features:
• 9,000 new chemicals have been added to the previous version and now contain over 10,300 substances.
• Even if the first version of ProtecPo classified material as resistant, intermediate resistance and nonresistant, the rec-ommendation given was presented as Resistant and Non-Resistant. The new version of ProtecPo classifies the mate-rial resistance in four categories: HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW and NON-RESISTANT, with each category being color-coded.
• An experimental database has been set up to refine the results. Expandable over time, it will store information on the resistance of a given material to a given chemical (documented either by recognized laboratory testing or in reviewed scientific publications). This presentation will include live demonstration using examples from day-to-day life.
Speaker: Marcus Cattani, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University
Topic: Development of injury risk management education for leaders
Whilst the development of a West Australian response to the model Work Health and Safety legislation is ongoing, some work has commenced to prepare organisations for the changes this legislation is likely to bring. This paper describes the outcomes of the research concerned with the identification of educational needs from 1288 participants from the WA Government Mines Safety Roadshow over 2 years. Participants indicated their perception of their own effectiveness and their employers’ effectiveness in a range of disciplines associated with the implementation of WHS legislation. In addition, participants informed on a variety of issues concerning their training needs, and preferred delivery mode. Participants indicated a strong need for an educational program which not only informed them of the new legislation, but also the fundamentals of work health and safety, such as hazard identification, and disciplines such as leadership and culture, and emergency management. In response, in 2017 two modules of a 10-module training package were developed and published using an online publishing platform, and distributed to Roadshow participants, prior to completing a survey. Due to the broad educational needs identified, each module includes a variety of techniques to encourage learning at different educational levels, including an introductory video, participation using review questions and more in depth study and ongoing education. The whole program is structured as a ‘journey’ which communicates both how each module fits into the overall program, and where the participant is in the program. Feedback (n=637) indicated participants valued the ‘journey’ analogy, the training materials and the online mode of delivery, although a ‘hard copy’ participant and facilitator materials will also be developed for off line delivery. The results of these surveys will assist the development of additional materials to educate people in a range of disciplines aiming to assist implementation of the new WA legislation.
Speaker: Dr Heike Neumeister-Kemp, Principal Mycologist, Mycotec Pty Ltd
Topic: Mould inside buildings, why does moisture protection go wrong
A selection of the most common sources of mould proliferation in buildings is presented. Mould grows when viable spores, free water, energy and nutrients are present. Typically, the only variable that can be easily controlled in a building is the amount of moisture available, which provides a source of free water.
Based on many (1000's) of inspections in Australasian buildings, we present a selection of pertinent cases, where mould growth within the structure of a building has occurred.
Examples of factors considered are:
Leaky facades and/or windows allowing direct water/moisture ingress
Leaky facades and/or windows allowing moisture laden air ingress, especially in humid environments
Inter-tenancy walls between warm/cool apartments (internal temperature differentials)
High humidity levels in internal spaces such as apartments resulting in condensation (free water) at different points in the daily temperature cycle
“Swimming Pool" effect; when moisture is trapped after flooding and/or other water ingress
Water ingress/condensation in HVAC ducting
Maintenance issues with HVAC systems
Further, the legal and health aspects will be discussed, along with why an understanding of mould ecology is so important to the prevention/limitation of mould proliferation.
Concurrent Session 5 – Risk Management
Tuesday 4 December | 11:50 - 13:00
Speaker: Marcus Cattani, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University
Topic: Predicting incidents may never happen, but what about forecasting their risk?
There appears to be some frustration concerning the reduction in the rate of safety performance improvement, in Australia and overseas. Whilst the total number of lower severity incidents appears to be reducing, higher severity incidents do not appear to be following the same trend. The Australian State Governments are the custodians of several databases of workplace incident notifications, as employers are obliged to notify them of serious workplace injuries and other occurrences. Most medium sized or larger organisations also collect a considerable amount of data and information on their occupational health and safety performance, including incidents and injuries. It was hypothesised that as we learn from our previous performance, the incident data and information databases could be 'mined' to provide an indication of future performance. In 2016, the authors commenced several projects which aimed to identify whether the data stored by two Government Departments and commercial organisations could be used to understand how to improve safety performance. In this paper, one of the ongoing research projects will be described, a free website called Injury Alarm (www.injuryalarm.com). Injury Alarm uses a novel data analysis process to convert user incident notification data and information into an injury risk index, and provides the user with a simple report. The injury risk index together with additional time series statistical processes has been shown to be somewhat effective in forecasting injury risk for one organisation's data. Ongoing development of the process and the associated website functionality will be described. Perhaps, one day we will be able to manage unacceptable risk before an incident occurs?
Speaker: Sandra McFadden, Senior Occupational Hygienist
Topic: Mercury contamination in potable water - how can it happen. An Industry Share.
Site potable water sampling returned an unexplained high Mercury result at a processing site in NSW. Water results in the low lying areas of the system varied from at the ADWG heath limit of ~ 0.001 mg/L to 0.0104 mg/L.
Investigations with regards to the source of Mercury contamination have been extensive throughout a 12 month period and currently failed to identify the source.
Initially it was thought to be due to a catastrophic failure of a UV tube in the disinfection system discharging Mercury into the processing plant potable water supply. This significant risk was not identified as a potential source of heavy metal exposure through the supply of water to crib areas and ice machines.
The lamp contained ~110mg Mercury per tube in an amalgam which passed through the system and thought to have settled at the physical low point of the pipework. Fortunately the water is only used for crib washing not as drinking water. Previous UV lamp failures with Mercury release have been reported but have been presented as Environmental concerns, not as a health issue.
Treatment of Mercury contaminations is complex and requires a multi-disciplinary management plan. This paper presents solutions and risk management for UV systems failure in a potable water system. The presentation would be an ideal industry share during the AIOH conference where we highlight Challenges, Opportunities & Solutions.
Speaker: Shulan Liang, Research Associate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Topic: Work-Life Balance in Construction Workers: a pilot model for manual labours
A work-life imbalance is identified as a vital determiner for attracting the young generation to join the construction industry. This paper explored the factors affecting the work-life balance (WLB) in construction manual workers. It investigates the most critical factors that impact on workers’ work-life balance. In addition, it proposes a model of factors, work-life balance, job satisfaction, and turnover intention of different types of construction manual workers. The pilot model depicts the potential factors and moderators affecting the work-life balance of the manual workers in the construction industry. It also links up the factors and organisational issues such as commitment and turnover intention. The findings would help to enhance understanding on this issue and helps to make informed suggestions for improving work-life balance in the construction industry.
Concurrent Session 6 – Indoor Air Quality and Biological Hazards
Tuesday 4 December | 11:50 - 13:00
Speaker: Brad Prezant, Chief Scientific Officer
Topic: The consequences of poor indoor air quality - what is the associated morbidity and mortality?
The last 50 years has seen a dramatic shift in the design and construction of the buildings we occupy. Reduced ventilation, increased humidity, and changing building materials have created more attractive homes, but unintended health consequences have accompanied these changes. In the developed world, poor indoor air quality has profound consequences on public health, particularly on the incidence and severity of asthma and other respiratory disease. Cockroaches, rodents, dust mites, and indoor moisture are all significant contributors to disease with large financial implications to society. Although Australia has few areas with significant radon exposures, data from other developed countries suggest that estimated population attributable risk of lung cancer due to radon exposure is between 10% and 20% of total cases in smokers and non-smokers (both are at additional risk).
In portions of the less developed world, more than 90% of people rely on biomass to meet their domestic energy needs - globally over 3 billion people, with 4.3 million deaths annually as a result. 500,000 children under 5 years of age die annually as a result of pollution from cooking. These exposures are among the top 10 preventable contributors to the global burden of disease.
Indoor air quality has a profound impact on disease. A significant portion of the $28 billion expense we incur in Australia annually due to asthma is due to the indoor environment, and a significant portion of that amount is preventable.
Speaker: Claire Bird, Principal Consultant
Topic: Climate change and Occupational Hygiene
There is an urgent need to improve our building practices to perform better under a changing and sometimes unpredictable meteorological future. This presentation examines the triangle of climate change, the wellness movement and the demands placed on the construction industry. It examines the resultant impact on indoor and construction site workplaces. It looks at how hygienists can engage in new areas where self‐awareness rather than traditional workplace exposure risks is driving work absenteeism, and ultimately the perceived health of workplaces. There is demand for healthier workplace environments; buildings with Indoor Environment Quality certifications attracts elevated prices at sale and rental. There is ironically equal pressure to construct buildings with cheaper building materials, such as substandard plumbing and electrical fittings, and materials that may contain asbestos, that may generate workplace exposure risks. Current construction practice is also exposing internal structures to inclement weather before completing the façade and/or roofing. Wet cellulosic materials allow fungal growth and hence result in exposure to potential odours, allergens and asthmatogens during handling of materials by building operatives and post‐occupancy. Conversely, encasing the occupied space within an airtight envelope leads to health risks from build‐up of indoor contaminants and moisture that reduce the quality of life for occupants, and can lead to health complaints despite conditions being compliant with National Exposure Standards. Two case studies are examined that demonstrate the impact of sub‐toxic level contaminants on workers in two offices whereby long‐term absence were the result of odour complaints and faulty building design or operation.
Speaker: Lauren Pickering, Consultant, Edith Cowan University
Topic: An Evaluation of airborne contaminants at a commercial composting facility
Commercial composting is a growing industry driven by a shift to reduce and recycle wastes, resulting in the establishment of large-scale composting facilities and increased employment in this sector. Compost workers are potentially exposed to many occupational health hazards that can have an adverse effect on worker health, including airborne dust.
An occupational exposure assessment of a commercial composting facility was undertaken to evaluate worker exposure to inhalable, and respirable dusts during normal operations with the aim of determining an occupational exposure profile. Exposure monitoring for inhalable and respirable dusts was conducted by implementing a repeated sampling program across similar exposure groups (SEG's). The exposure monitoring was conducted in accordance with AS 3640 and AS 2985. A total of 30 inhalable samples and 25 respirable samples were collected in February and March 2018.
The data collected showed that the exposures varied according to the SEG and there are several operations where the potential exposures to inhalable dust have the potential to exceed the Safe Work Australia exposure standard for rouge dust of 10 mg/m3. Several of the SEGs have been shown to exceed the AIOH recommendations for inhalable dust for Dusts Not Otherwise Classified (NOC) of 5 mg/m3. The results of the respirable monitoring show that the exposures are below the suggested guide for respirable dust (NOC) of 5 mg/m3. The paper will discuss the outcomes in more depth.
Concurrent Session 7
Tuesday 4 December | 11:50 - 13:00
Speaker: Jamie Ross, Director, Safety, Metro Tunnel Project
Topic: Melbourne Metro Project
The Melbourne Metro Tunnel is an $11 billion city-shaping project, setting a new standard for high capacity and efficient public transport in the city. Five state-of-the-art train stations connected by twin 9km tunnels will be constructed in the heart of the city. With works now underway, the impacts on the workforce and the public are being carefully managed to ensure the project is as successful during it's construction as it will be in improving Melbourne's rail network. This presentation will provide an overview of the project, and details on the leading-practice approaches to managing health and safety risks during construction, and achieving the project's vision of getting the workforce, public and passengers home safe and healthy every day.
Speaker: Dr. Doug Boreham
Topic: Occupational Exposure to McIntyre Powder and the Consequences.
It is known that exposures to toxic agents inherent to the mining environment (arsenic, diesel exhaust and fumes, silica and mycotoxins) modify the risk of lung cancer. However one agent that has never been considered is McIntyre Powder. McIntyre Powder is a fine aluminum oxide powder that was used from 1943 to 1979 in the majority of gold and uranium mines in Canada (Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Northwest Territories), the United States, Mexico, Chile, Belgian, Congo and Western Australia. The powder was used as a potential “prophylactic” treatment for silicosis. Most miners were not given a choice and were forced to inhale the powder in specialized areas of the mine. Recently, a program began to investigate some of the biological consequences of McIntyre Powder exposure. This presentation will provide an overview of the history of McIntrye Powder and discuss some of the concerning health conditions arising in miners from exposure to large quantities of aluminum along with all the other toxic agents that were present at the time.
Concurrent Session 8 – Chemical Hazards
Tuesday 4 December | 14:00 - 15:05
Speaker: Peter Knott, Senior Occupational Hygienist, GCG Health Safety Hygiene
Topic: Creating Context in Real Time Measurement
Video Exposure Monitoring has received renewed vigour with improvements in portability, a wider range of devices, lower cost and readily available software such as the NIOSH EVADE program. The deployment of EVADE analysis in a range of workplaces is demonstrated, applied to a variety of contaminant exposures. Additional insights from wearers and occupational hygienists reviewing the results lead to a deeper awareness of the behavioural and physical elements contributing to exposure and improved focus on the optimum means for effective control. We performed additional statistical analysis of real time data aimed at providing greater descriptive information of the results above simple TWA’s, which permitted the investigation of changes in the pattern and intensity of exposures. These efforts combined provide greater understanding of the time varying nature of exposures, permit workers to understand the factors which contribute to their exposures and reassure employers of the effectiveness of implemented controls.
Speaker: Bhoopathy Sankaran, Principal Inspector
Topic: Assessment of work practices and exposure to perchloroethylene in small dry-cleaning workplaces in Sydney NSW.
Perchloroethylene (PERC) is most commonly used in the dry-cleaning industry. PERC is classified by IARC as a possible carcinogen (Group 2) associated with bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. PERC can be easily absorbed by inhalation, through the skin or by ingestion.
Twelve small dry cleaning workplaces in Sydney were investigated. Walk-through observational evaluations of exposure controls, work practices, worker knowledge, instruction, training, equipment maintenance regimes and personal protective equipment (PPE) were conducted. The assessment included personal air monitoring and biological monitoring of exposure to PERC of 34 workers on the first, third and the fifth day of their work week.
Personal air sampling was compared to the Safe Work Australia, Workplace Exposure Standard, 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA) for PERC of 50 ppm. The workplaces recorded PERC air concentrations of between 0.075 to 6.21 ppm with a Geometric mean (GM) of 1.05 ppm. This is significantly below the TWA and gave a student t-test p value << 0.05. The test results of urine analyses were also assessed for exposure to PERC by comparison to the Biological Occupational Exposure Limit (BOEL) of SafeWork NSW of 0.02 mmol TCA/L and showed no significant difference between pre-shift and post-shift urine test results with a GM of 0.001 mmol/L across the time- period of the assessment. Work practices were also assessed and recommendations were provided to ensure the general health and safety of the dry-cleaning workers.
Speaker: Catherine Binghams, Senior Environmental Engineer
Topic: Managing workers exposure to emerging contaminants in environmental investigation and remediation programs.
There are many interesting challenges when working at contaminated sites, with complex ground conditions and competing stakeholder interests, but fundamentally when on site undertaking the work, the safety of our workers and those around us is our top priority. Our investigation and remediation staff and subcontractors regularly work on sites with environmental contaminants, and one aspect of managing their health and safety is a need to understand and manage potential exposures to these contaminants. The health risks and exposure management procedures for some contaminants maybe complex but are well understood, but some such as newly emerging or unique contaminants can present challenges due to limited information. The investigation and remediation of emerging and unique contaminants present special challenges with respect to identifying and understanding the hazards prior to work commencing, and the development of management programs on site to address health risks to workers. However, the basic approach and principles behind the management of potential exposures to contamination remain the same regardless of the complexity and the level of real or perceived health risk. This paper explores the approach taken to understand and manage contaminant exposure via a case study of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).
Concurrent Session 9 – Aerosols/Dusts
Tuesday 4 December | 14:00 - 15:05
Speaker: Jennifer Hines, Occupational Hygienist/PhD Candidate University of Wollongong
Topic: Linking Diesel Maintenance Personnel with Occupational Hygienists to Improve Worker Health
Diesel maintenance personnel are responsible for the repair and maintenance of diesel engines. They detect faults and damage in diesel engines. They measure parts to ascertain the extent of the damage and wear and tear and then repair or replace the parts. Much of the work requires meticulous adherence to standards and specifications. This type of job description makes them a perfect candidate to understand their engine even more intimately and actively maintain them with the wider goal of reducing exposure to workers.
There are ongoing developments within the Mining Industry for the ability to measure diesel engine exhaust, and to interpret the results from the workshop at the time of measurement, allowing immediate improvements to the atmosphere the workers breathe. One term used for this process is Emissions Based Maintenance (EBM).
This presentation will go into detailed findings of a site based, practical PhD where EBM was implemented at one site, compared to another site where no additional maintenance was conducted. It will cover material on how this was achieved, the outcomes and productivity gains as well as how it can be done elsewhere while reducing the pain of pitfalls. It will cover surprises found along the way and inform the audience of the real value of implementing EBM and working with fitters to achieve the results.
Speaker: Melinda Gardner, Researcher
Topic: Assessment of worker exposure to occupational organic dust in hemp processing facility
The cultivation and processing of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a developing industry in Australia. During processing, workers exposed to hemp dust commonly suffer from airway inflammatory response and respiratory disease leading to decreased lung function over time. There is a scarcity of empirical evidence on the respirable fraction of dust concentrations in hemp processing, and no specific guidance material for producers. Determine the relevancy of current health based occupational exposure limits (inhalable/respirable) for protecting workers exposed to hemp based inhalable dusts. Objectives: Measure exposures of workers to airborne hemp dust. Determine potential exposures and compare against published exposure standards. Based on the outcomes of exposure assessment, make recommendations for appropriate control measures. Methods: Both personal and static monitoring will be performed at a hemp processing facility in Victoria, Australia. Analysis will be undertaken using IHSTAT. Differences between inhalable and respirable airborne dust concentrations will be tested using ANOVA and Shapiro-Wilks post-hoc testing. Results: The hemp industry requires a distinct exposure standard and published guidance material to ensure adverse health effects are minimal. Further research is needed on the impacts of respirable fraction of cannabis particulates and their role in respiratory response and disease. This paper will present the findings for innovative field work the first of its kind undertaken in Australia.
Speaker: Mahinda Seneviratne, State Inspector, SafeWork NSW
Topic: Preventing Silicosis: Exposure monitoring, Health surveillance and Hazard communication on respirable crystalline silica among engineered stone workers
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) causes the serious lung disease silicosis among many workers globally. There was renewed attention to silicosis when new cases were reported among workers involved in the use of engineered stone in bench top manufacturing. A regulatory verification program was conducted in the State of New South Wales in Australia to investigate exposure of stone workers to RCS, compliance with health surveillance requirements and to improve communication of the health hazards of RCS to poorly informed workers. Airborne RCS exposures were measured in the workers’ breathing zones using cyclone sampling heads for particle size selection. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis was performed to assess the silica content of the respirable dust. Compliance with national Work Health and Safety Regulations on health monitoring for RCS exposure, which include annual chest x-rays, were verified at each workplace. Hazard information was developed in consultation with workers and small group education conducted to improve their awareness and knowledge on silica hazards. The Australian Workplace Exposure Standard (WES) of 0.1 mg/m3 for RCS was exceeded in many personal air samples. Workers who had worked in the industry for many years had not undergone a complete health monitoring including chest x-ray and spirometry. The WES for RCS is being reviewed and lowered to 0.025 mg/m3 in some countries whilst some industries raise concerns on whether they can practicably achieve this limit. The reliance on chest x-rays and spirometry in the early detection of silicosis has also been queried by numerous case studies and by the Australian inquiry into coal worker pneumoconiosis. We report our findings and explore whether technological changes result in high RCS exposures and a re-emergence of silicosis among poorly informed workforces. Developing professional collaboration among different disciplines to prevent this deadly disease will be discussed.
Concurrent Session 10 – Physical Hazards
Tuesday 4 December | 14:00 - 15:05
Speaker: Fouad Rizk, Industrial Hygienist
Topic: Development of a Hearing Protection Fit Testing Program
Noise is a significant health hazard to personnel at work. Hearing protection devices (HPD) are routinely used to protect workers from harmful levels of noise exposure. The level of protection each individual will receive from the same HPD will vary depending on a few factors such as size and shape of ear canal, fitting technique and training. Prolonged exposure to noise can lead to progressive hearing loss and deafness. How can the level of protection achieved by a HPD be tested? How can confidence in the Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) be achieved, particularly in the selection and use of HPDs and training in their correct fitting?
In order to address these issues, the Occupational Health team at Esso Australia launched Hearing Protection Fit Testing, a collaborative team initiative that compliments the organisation’s HCP. The program provides a mechanism to identify workers at risk for developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), train workers on proper selection and fit of HPDs and motivate workers to obtain the proper fit by providing individual performance metrics.
Since the launch of the program, 513 employees underwent hearing protection fit testing within Australia. A total of 2165 tests were completed. Of all earplug tests, the failure rate was 35%. In contrast, the failure rate for earmuffs was only 2%. Moreover, 74% and 98% of workers passed the test from the first attempt for earplugs and earmuffs, respectively. Hearing protection fit testing can improve an organisation’s HCP by identifying at-risk workers and tailoring a fit-for-purpose hearing protection training.
Speaker: Roseanne Baxter, Occupational Therapist
Topic: Investigation of Whole-body Vibration Exposure Levels in Dozer Operators Working at a Surface Coal Mining Operation.
Dozer operation at surface mining operations has traditionally been considered one of the higher risk tasks undertaken in the surface coal mining industry due to exposure to significant levels of whole-body vibration. As per Australian Standard AS2760.1, SafeWork Australia promotes the practice of regular monitoring of whole-body vibration levels and encourages employers to minimise workers’ exposure levels to below levels associated with increased risk of health affects. Although not legally binding, these limits are considered benchmarks in industry monitoring reports.
Recent published Australian research has shown a large spread of exposure levels, some of which exceeded recognised limits for likely health effects. A research project has been undertaken to gather whole-body vibration data matched to video and operator survey to investigate which tasks and in what ground conditions are dozer operators at a surface mining operation exposed to the higher levels of whole-body vibration.This provides rationale for prioritisation of allocation of controls targeted at the tasks and/or ground conditions associated with higher whole-body vibration readings. Discussion regarding the range of data analysis methods currently referred to in research and industry reporting is advocated to improve consistency of reporting and understanding of results.
Speaker: SoYoung Lee, PhD candidate School of Public Health, The University of Adelaide
Topic: Blue light exposures of dental students using dental curing lamps: Scenario-based observations and experimental data
Intense blue light exposure is a risk factor for retinal photoreceptor damage. Dental curing lamps are intense blue light sources, used for the curing of composite resins. Dental students repeatedly use these handheld lamps as part of simulation clinics, and must be able to cure resins at various angles in the mouth. Students may undertake curing procedures with limited supervision and awareness of the blue light hazard. Whilst investigations of curing lamps suggest retinal risks for professional dentists, there have been no studies of student exposures.
Preliminary observations were made in a university dental simulation clinic to understand processes in detail, including the use of lamps and shielding, and to determine time-activity patterns and exposure geometries. Worst case and typical scenarios were created and blue light effective radiances (LB) were measured using a Specbos spectroradiometer. Blue-light protective glasses were also tested for attenuation.
Blue-light protective glasses were effective in minimizing exposure but were not typically worn. Shielding around the lamp body was of limited effectiveness in practice, as LB values in the visual field showed wide variability, depending on location of the tooth and angle of the curing lamp. Values often exceeded the radiance limit of 100 W/m2sr. It is recommended that blue-light protective glasses be worn and that training include more detailed guidance on the blue light hazard.
Concurrent Session 11 – Physical Hazards/Aerosols
Wednesday 5 December | 10:40 - 11:55
Speaker: Venessa Thelan, Occupational Hygienist
Topic: Selecting the right Double Hearing Protection standard for a large LNG operation in the Middle East.
In many workplaces, Double Hearing Protection (DHP) is used to provide additional protection to employees where high levels of noise cannot be otherwise controlled. Selecting the right DHP standard requires consideration of several factors, such as performance capability of hearing protection devices (HPDs), noise exposure standards applicable to the workplace, and appropriate local or international regulations. A detailed understanding of employee noise exposures and workplace noise levels is also important as consequences of revising or introducing a DHP standard may include; changes to signage requirements, procedure revisions, and amendments to training and communication programs.
Health and Safety Authorities from around the world differ in their recommendations, with some specifying TWA and PEAK DHP standards, and others stating that the DHP standard depends on HPD selection, but must reduce the in-ear noise exposure to at least 85dB. Furthermore, there are various HPD de-rating systems, which adjust the manufacturer’s stated HPD attenuation rating to account for the significantly reduced protection provided under “real world” conditions. Thus, choosing the most appropriate method of DHP selection can be a challenge in itself.
This paper discusses the process used to select the right DHP standard for a large LNG operation in the Middle East, and the subsequent implementation of that change.
Speaker: Dean Gleeson, University of Wollongong
Topic: H2O vs LEV: Which is best for reducing RCS in Rock Cutting?
With tunnel construction in Australia is at an all-time high there is an influx of new industry participants, which brings a substantial deficit in awareness of health risks related to tunnelling and the necessary skills and experience in managing these risks. Additionally accelerated construction programs and the requirement to build very large tunnels mean that more work activities are being undertaken concurrently. Subsequently there is potential for exposing more workers to RCS than previously before (Cole, 2017). Over time research and development into ventilation systems and dry dust collectors has led to a substantial improvement in underground dust management (Kanaoka, et al., 2000; Li, et al., 2017; Nie, et al., 2017; Torano, et al., 2011). However works behind the primary tunnel excavation to excavate service trenches generate high levels of dust, but typically rely on water sprays for dust suppression. These water sprays have low efficiency against respirable dust, consume large volumes of water, and are easily damaged, which due to production constraints may result in failure to repair and maintain (Li, et al., 2017).
To improve dust management during rock sawing, a shroud was designed and constructed to fit to a 3m diameter rock saw attachment, which connects to a dry type dust filtering system to capture dust as it is generated at the source. A comparative trial between conventional water suppression and the LEV system was undertaken during rock sawing activities associated with tunnel construction. Worker exposure to RCS and respirable dust was evaluated in accordance with Australian Standard AS 2985 with gravimetric analysis for respirable dust and quartz determination by infrared spectroscopy. Samples were collected from workers breathing zones to evaluate RCS exposure. Static area samples were collected to control for variability associated with personal exposure monitoring. Direct reading aerosol monitoring was conducted concurrently using a calibrated TSI 8532 Dusttrak II aerosol monitor. This supplementary method was employed to control for variation by standardising sample location and duration. To control for other confounding variables, measurements were taken of production rates and environmental conditions including tunnel ventilation air velocity and direction relative to the cut, LEV flow rate and water flow rate. Other variables such as operator experience, excavator cabin hygiene and down times were also accounted for. The RCS and respirable dust concentrations from the two methods were compared using a paired T- test. It was found that using LEV significantly reduced exposure to RCS and respirable dust when compared to using water suppression. This project has wide application across tunnelling, civil infrastructure and building operations and demonstrates a well-designed higher order control such as LEV can significantly reduce operator exposures to RCS and improve health outcomes.
Speaker: Jane Whitelaw, Academic Co-ordinator Occupational Hygiene Program, University Of Wollongong
Topic: Do PAPRs adequately filter DPM?
Respiratory protection is a widely used control measure in many industries to protect workers from exposure to diesel emissions. Recent research by the same authors (Coal Services Health & Safety Trust 2015-16 Project 20634 & WorkCover Applied Research grant 2015/005356) evaluated penetration of DPM through eight commonly used negative pressure respirator filters at the flow rate designated in the Australian standard, as well as at two higher flow rates representative of medium to heavy work. The filtering efficiency assumed by P2 certification (<6%) was not achieved for some respirators after a reasonably short wear time. Powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) are also used extensively in workplaces to protect workers against DPM and may be used increasingly due to changing standards on recommendations on work rates outlined in ISO/TS 16976-4:2012. Without data on the filtration efficiency of PAPRs against DPM, there is uncertainty around whether these devices are fit for purpose and wearers are adequately protected. Further research was conducted (Coal Services Health & Safety Trust 2016 -18 Project 20641) to determine whether PAPRs certified and used in Australian workplaces, effectively filter out Diesel Particulate Matter.
The methodology included: 1. challenging three PAPR filters commonly used in mining workplaces with DPM and measuring the % Elemental Carbon and the ultrafine particles that penetrated the filters, and 2. challenging the same three PAPR filters using current Sodium Chloride and Paraffin standard certified methods and challenge aerosols This research raises concerns regarding the adequacy of the respiratory protection commonly provided against DPM.
Concurrent Session 12 – Risk Management 1
Wednesday 5 December | 10:40 - 11:55
Speaker: Helen Lingard, Director, Construction Work Health and Safety Research, RMIT
Topic: Reducing musculoskeletal injury in manual construction tasks: Objective measurement and work redesign
BackgroundMusculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common work-related conditions in Australia and are associated with hazardous manual tasks and poorly designed work. International research identifies construction as a particularly high risk industry for work-related MSD (Latza et al. 2000; Hartmann & Fleischer, 2005). Construction work involves a variety of ergonomic hazards, for example heavy lifting, repetitive movements, awkward postures, vibration and forceful exertions.AimsThe present research aimed to:1. Improve knowledge relating to the risk factors and potential for MSD in five targeted tasks.2. Provide an evidence-base relating to the opportunities to reduce the risk of MSD in the tasks.3. Measure and objectively assess the benefits of redesigning aspects of the selected tasks.4. Use wearable sensors to enable the capture and analysis of objective data to understand the risk factors, as well as identify and evaluate work redesign strategies for the prevention of MSD.MethodsTwelve healthy male adult volunteers (age: 32.1 ± 11 yrs.; mass: 92 ± 21.2 kg; height: 177.8 ± 9.2 cm) participated in this study. The five tasks selected for analysis were: steel fixing, shotcreting, cable-pulling, shovelling and jackhammering. An applied experimental design was combined with objective measurement of body movement patterns (i.e. joint motion and posture) and muscle activity using wearable sensors.Results and ConclusionsThe research results reveal that, in some cases, ergonomic risk factors in the construction tasks analysed may be reduced by relatively simple, low cost measures. This research highlights benefits associated with using technology-enabled measurement tools to objectively measure human movement. The resulting data can be used to: (i) understand risk factors for work-related MSD; (ii) evaluate the potential impacts of ergonomic interventions; and (iii) provide evidence to guide the development of future ergonomic interventions to reduce MSD risk in the construction industry.
Speaker: Ross Di Corletto, Principal Adviser Health Risk
Topic: The evolving face of managing critical health risk in industry
Understanding the consequence and likelihood associated with health hazards and monitoring the exposures, has always been an area in which the occupational health professional’s effort has been directed. Whilst this is an important aspect of risk management it can be lacking in its final delivery of practical and effective controls. Within the mining sector there has been a recent shift to place more focus on the controls in place to prevent or mitigate these risks.
Critical risk management has become well established in the safety management process as the acute nature of risks lends themselves well to this approach. However few industries have ventured down the path of adopting this methodology for the management of critical health risks. This presentation will provide an example of the adaptation of this model for three fatal health risks and demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of such an approach across a global resources company.
Speaker: Andrew Bennett, Senior Health Operations Manager
Topic: Managing fatigue at Shell Assets
Shell has a goal of becoming the global leader in fatigue risk management in the oil and gas industry. To achieve this, Shell has included fatigue risk management requirements into its global control framework. This paper will outline why fatigue management is important to Shell and provide an overview of Shell's fatigue risk management requirements. it will describe how Shell Australia has set up its fatigue risk management plans and describe some of the key management tools. It will discuss key implementation challenges and outline actions planned to address these.
Concurrent Session 13 – Risk Management 2
Wednesday 5 December | 10:40 - 11:35
Speaker: Kate Cole, Occupational Health and Hygiene Manager Transport for NSW
Topic: A program approach to managing occupational health and hygiene on Australia's largest public transport project, the Sydney Metro
Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. This new standalone railway will deliver 31 metro stations and more than 66 kilometres of new metro rail, revolutionising the way Australia’s biggest city travels. Our vision is ‘transforming Sydney with a world class metro’. Our strategic objectives include leaving a transformative legacy, meaning that we will use this once-in-a-generation investment to shape a legacy that makes a positive difference to people’s lives.
Sydney Metro recognises the important issue of preventing work related illness and diseases in the thousands of workers who will contribute to the successful delivery of this world-class infrastructure. As such, our health and safety strategy includes a specific initiative to address this significant issue. Sydney Metro have established systems of work and set minimum performance requirements to afford governance and an understanding of occupational health risks via systematic auditing and reporting that facilitates continuous improvement. This presentation will provide an overview of the program approach to manage occupational health risks through our supply chain, which includes a focus on competency, health risk assessment, health risk control, and continuous improvement.
Speaker: Dr Robert McCartney, Occupational Physician
Topic: Mentally Healthy Workplaces - The Role of Occupational Hygienists and Occupational Physicians
Psychosocial and human factors related to work are often overlooked as workplaces tend to focus on the physical risks of a job. However, in Queensland psychological and psychiatric injury claims related to work are the most expensive with an average finalised lost time claim cost of $52,782 and 34 weeks off work (in 2014-15). Because of this, Government and regulatory bodies are encouraging industry to focus on developing mentally healthy workplaces.To improve the psychosocial aspects of a workplace it is essential to first evaluate the work environment to identify hazards and establish a starting point to track future improvements. This is where Occupational Hygienists and Occupational Medicine can combine their knowledge of work and health to lead this process. From here, they can then design and implement appropriate control strategies to prevent ill health caused by the work environment and provide periodic testing to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention/s by tracking improvements and monitor problem areas, and identify potentially new areas of concern early.By investigating and identifying the level of risk in the workplace, employers can better understand the areas of the business that have poorer mental health and how that poorer mental health is related to work characteristics.Good workplace design and organisation promotes active health and wellbeing and there are many performance benefits that derive from this such as productivity, efficiency and the ability to retain talented staff.