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Work hazards in chemical industries.

Byline: Engr. Hussain Pervaiz

An occupational disease is any chronic ailment happening due to work or occupational activity. It is an aspect of occupational safety and health. It is typically identified when it is more prevalent in a given group of workers than in general population.

Industries where employees are more exposed to hazards and occupational diseases include coal industries, industrial gases, ceramic & glass, cement and other allied calcium and magnesium Industries, salt and sodium compound industries, alkali & acid, paints, leather, rubber, explosive, petrochemicals, dyes, iron & steel, nuclear industries, fertilizer. hot repairs of furnaces ranging from 100C* to 250C*, metallurgical industries and refineries fall in this category.

Some very common processes also called Unit Operations are used in every Industry and include drying, heat transfer, crystallization, distillation, absorption, adsorption, crushing, grinding, screening, transportation, milling, calcination, homogenizing, casting, filtration, extraction and

granulation. (Unit Operation is the processes in which only physical state of the substance is changed and no chemical change occurs).

Leaching, Spinning. In Pakistan batch process is extensively practiced in small scale production so employees are more exposed to hazards resulting in high accident rates and occupational diseases at a very early stage.

In chemical industries, working environment conditions at the shop floor are entirely different from general commodities manufacturing units and well maintained corporate offices where employees face multiple hazards in the form of poisonous gases, molten metal, dust, heat, noise and fire.

In industrialized countries, governments are very sensitive towards safety and health hazards and provide due social security during and after service. They allow persons working at hazardous places only a limited

period, provide more annual leaves by reduced working hours and pension at lower length of service.

It is common practice in Pakistan to run aging plants, which are more hazardous and their occupational health hazardous coverage is totally inadequate for their operation and maintenance personnel.

Acts & rules in Pakistan

Pakistan has very poor occupational safety and health laws and has not kept pace with rapidly changing times. Furthermore the occupational exposure limits (OELs) now common all over the world are missing from Pakistan's laws. There is a great need for the industries to improve the status of occupational safety and health in Pakistan to meet challenges of globalization and to compete in the international market.

In Pakistan occupational diseases laws for heavy, hi-tech industries and even for small scale industries have neither been updated nor replaced. It is time we replaced our obsolete laws with new ones in the light of international conventions also demanded by GS Plus countries to increase our exports.

Following acts and rules are generally applicable for industrial and occupational and hazardous conditions in Pakistan. There is no law and no insurance covering occupational health and safety in Pakistan. Factories Act 1934 is not applicable to units employing less than ten workers. It does not cover workers in agriculture sector, informal/ house based and

seasonal employees. Most of our industries' workforce in Pakistan is not fully educated and trained in occupational safety and health.

There is need to replace word 'labor' with 'employees' for occupational health and safety purposes and to merge the following laws for reducing industries litigations.

1.Factories Act, 1934

2.Factories (Punjab Amendment) Act, 1940

3.Punjab Factories Rules, 1978

4.Factories (NWFP Amendment) Act, 1946

5.NWFP Factories Rules, 1975

6.Sindh Factories Rules, 1975

7.Baluchistan Factories Rules, 1978.

9.Karachi (Shelters in Factories) Rules, 1955

10. Sindh Factories (Adult Exemptions) Rules, 1989.

11.Hazardous Occupa-tions Rules, 1963

12.West Pakistan hazardous occupations - WPHO (Lead) Rules, 1963

13.WPHO (Miscell-aneous) Rules, 1963

14.WPHO (Aerated waters) Rules, 1963

15.WPHO (Rubber) Rules 1963

16.WPHO (Chromium) Rules, 1963

17.WPHO (Cellulose Solution Spraying) Rules, 1963

18.WPHO (Sand Blasting) Rules, 1963

19.WPHO (Sodium and Potassium dichromate) Rules, 1963

20.WPHO (Petrol, Gas, Generating plant) Rules, 1963

21.Provisional Employee's social security (Occupational Diseases) Regulations, 1967

22.Mines Act, 1923.

23.Exemptions from Mines Act, 1923.

24.Mines Maternity Benefit Act, 1941.

25.Coal Mines (Fixing of Wages) Ordinance, 1960

26.Excise Duty on Minerals (Labor Welfare) Act, 1967

27.Dock Laborers Act, 1934.

28.Workmen Compen- Contd on page 13 sation Act, 1923.

29. Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965.

30.WP Shops and Establishments Ordi-nance, 1969.

31.Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance, 2002

32.Regulations on Radiation Protection - PAK/904

33.Regulations on Safety of Nuclear Installations - Site Evaluation - PAK/910

34.Regulations on t Safety of Nuclear Power Plant Design - PAK/911

35.Regulations on Safety of Nuclear Power Plant Quality Assurance - PAK/912

36.Regulations on Safety of Nuclear Power Plants Operation - PAK/913

37.Regulations on Management of Nuclear or Radiological Emergency - PAK/914

38.Regulations on Radioactive Waste Management - PAK/915

39.Regulations for Safe Transport of Radioactive Material - PAK/916

40.Regulations for Licensing of Nuclear Research Reactor Operation - PAK/923

41.PNRA Enforcement Regulations - PAK/950

42.Apprenticeship Ordinance 1962

43. Labour Policy 2002

Occupational diseases Badly designed machinery Mechanical devices & tools Poorly designed work place

Plant design not as per work conditions Different weather conditions. Import of aged plants

Work place hazards

Exposure time and magnitude of hazards are crucial factors for the length of exposure and the magnitude of hazard. Presence of more than one hazards at one location determines the net impact which usually occurs after a long period.

Physical hazards are a common source of occupational injuries and deaths. They involve moving parts, sharp edges, hot surfaces and other hazards with the potential to crush, burn, cut, shear, stab or otherwise strike or wound employees, if used unsafely.

Confined spaces are also a hazard. Confined space has limited openings for entry and exit and unfavorable natural ventilation, and are not intended for continuous employee occupancy. These kinds of spaces can include storage tanks, ship compartments, sewers, pipelines, underground tunnels for cabling and for transporting different materials. Confined spaces can pose a hazard not just to employees, but also to people who try to rescue them.

Temperature extremes can also be dangerous. Heat stress can cause heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, and rashes. Heat can also fog up safety glasses or cause sweaty palms or dizziness, all of which increase the risk of other injuries. Employees near hot surfaces or steam also are at risk for burns. Dehydration may also result from overexposure to heat.

Cold stress also poses a danger to many workers. Overexposure to cold conditions or extreme cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, or chilblains.

Electricity poses a danger to many employees. Electrical injuries can be divided into four types: fatal electrocution, electric shock, burns, and falls caused by contact with electric energy.

Dust has been defined as 'an aerosol composed of solid inanimate particles'. Various dusts present in the working environments are the particulate matter from coal, coke, iron ore, dolomite, quartzite, manganese, lime stone, fluorite, silica, clays, lime, graphite, mixed dusts etc. Dusts particles, even if chemically inert, will cause some harm by presence in the lungs.

Heat is the sensation felt due to high temperature. Exposure to excessive heat results on prompt dilation of blood vessels;

increase sweating with loss of body fluids and salts. The disorders resulting from heat exposure are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heats.

Noise is a fairly common workplace hazard. Noise is not the only source of occupational hearing loss; exposure to chemicals such as aromatic solvents and metals including lead, arsenic and mercury can also cause hearing loss. Most machines and many manual operations produce noise,

which is almost inevitable to production. Noise is generally acceptable up to a certain level and some sounds emitted by machinery may even be of value to the worker in learning of malfunction or in judging speed or performance.

Vibration occurs in all moving machinery and in most buildings structures. Excessive vibration is a hazard both to health and safety. Several types of occupational disorders may result due to this e.g. injury or hardening of soft tissues of hands, osteoarthritis arm joints.

Chemicals, gases & fumes

Included in this group are the effects of exposures to ammonia, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, coke oven gas, and carbon monoxide, natural gas, coal tar and many chemicals. These substances are capable of causing irritation or chemical inflammation in respiration, or skin

condition through direct contact over a long period in acute episodes, which cannot be totally ruled out to occur every now and then. They may cause harmful residual effects causing permanent damage to breathing

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Publication:Pakistan Engineering Review
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Aug 31, 2014
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