Other Hazards & Risks
Time to school trip at NanoLab! Will be Rick and his class ready for what they will find?!
In the last 30 years have undergone major global transformations in the work processes, resulting in the reduction of the workforce in industry sector, while services have become one of most significant sectors of the economy. These transformations have influence on occupational safety and health, more specifically in the new ways and methods of work in which the hazards and risks are still unknown or that there are still uncertainties about the danger, being the technological advancements and innovations one of the main reasons of these changes.
Nanotechnology is the understanding and manipulation of matter on a small scale, usually between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). This matter, typically called nanomaterials have unique physical, chemical and biological properties, with a variety of potential applications in workplaces related to automotive, aeronautics and space sectors, chemical or pharmaceutical laboratories, construction, manufacturing facilities, energetic, medical offices or hospitals, food industry and cosmetics.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggest a hierarchy of controls to reduce the worker’s exposure to the hazards of nanotechnology, with NIOSH integrating PtD concepts (Prevention through Design) in it, as elimination and substitution of the hazards. Nevertheless, both consider the integration of engineering and administrative controls and use of personal protective equipment.
the engeneering controls:
the administrative controls:
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary science that integrates mechanics, electronics and computer technology. The aim of mechatronics is the creation of simpler, economical and reliable products, from just a computer hard drive to automation and robotics.
The appearance of mechatronic systems allowed the making of new safety systems embedded in the machine.
The advancements in the industry brought and keeps bringing new machines to the workplace, integrating them with the workers. Programmed to do repetitive tasks, these machines lack the perception when to stop when something unforeseen occur. The embedded safety systems permit that the machines have some perception of their surrounds and their integration with the workers, stopping when something that were not supposed happened.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined by John McCarthy, considered the father of AI, as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”. In other words, AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
Some examples of AI technology are: automation (robotic automation), machine vision, machine learning, speech, planning, expert systems, robotics, natural language processing (NLP).
AI & the working world:
Since the past decades AI has been increasingly changing the workplace by introducing machines and robotics that replace human work. Indeed the replacement and reduction of the workforce is one of the major consequences of AI. The current challenge is to predict risks and develop safety plans for workers involved with AI integration. In this scenario, hazard assessment will benefit from multidisciplinary teams capable of understanding and reviewing AI systems.
Personal protective equipment (gloves, respirators and protective clothing). Concerning the personal protective equipment, its suggested the use of:
The need to review/set maximal limits of exposure for toxic substances, including nanomaterials
Be aware of some specific exposure limits already set *
To include a list of requirements pertaining to the correct use of air filters and ventilations systems when handling nanotubes
A “safer by design” approach to minimize the nanomaterial exposure
* Worker exposure to respirable carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers not exceed 1.0 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average, based on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
* Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that worker exposure to nanoscale particles of TiO2 not exceed NIOSH’s 0.3 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3 ) REL. By contrast, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends for fine-sized TiO2 (particle size greater than 100 nm) 2.4 mg/m3”.
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field and the safety issues are complex and workers must be up to date and trained to operate equipment
Follow laboratory/work area safety rules and wear adequate safety equipment to operate machines
Workers should operate in a “buddy system”, never operating equipment alone
The following safety rules were adapted from Newton C. Braga (2001):
It is a rapidly emerging field with little information regarding safety and health hazards.
did you know that...
AlphaZero, the game-playing AI created by Google and DeepMind, has beaten the world’s best chess-playing computer program?
AlphaZero taught itself how to play chess in under four hours before beating Stockfish 8, the world champion chess program, in a 100-game match up.
did you know that...
Scientists have programmed machines to be curious and explore their surroundings on their own?
This capability could allow robots to learn even faster and foster the ability to think ahead!