General OSH topics

General OSH topics

Factory Act (1802)
1st inspectorate services (1833)
Royal Comission (1840)
Regulations for youths and women (1844)
1st Social Insurance Legislation (1883)
1st Workers compensation Law (1884)
International Labour Organization (1919)
World Health Organization (1948)
European Framework Directive (1989)

Factory Act (1802)

First Act in the UK Parliament for the preservation of the health and morals of apprentices and other employees in Cotton and other Mills, due to the increasing pace of industrial revolution that lead to worst working conditions, especially for children.

History shows the existence of studies related to the legal regulation of safety and health conditions at work, nevertheless, it was only during the industrial revolution that the biggest advancements on this field were made.

At the European level the different countries developed the legal rules to regulate the labour conditions in distinct phases, firstly aiming to protect children at work, women, throughout the establishment of more restricted working times for that group of workers.

The Framework Directive 89/391/EEC is a European Union Directive regarding Occupational Safety and Health that established the general principles for workers protection, and provides other aspect as the responsibilities of employers and workers.

The employer is responsible for taking the measures considered necessary for the safety and health of the worker, including information and training to prevent occupational risks, constant risk assessment, and the necessity to use protective equipment without involving the worker in financial costs. According to the activities of the work, the employer should:

employers

  • Assess the risks and verify if the work equipment and required substances do not put the worker in danger;
  • Consider the worker’s knowledge of safety and health;
  • Consult workers concerning the planning and introduction of equipment and working environments;
  • Ensure that only workers that received the appropriate instructions may access and perform a specific task;

The employers are also responsible for the first aid, fire-fighting and evacuation of workers. They should arrange the necessary measures and equipment for safety, as granting that contacting the emergency services is possible, provide adequate instructions for safety evaluation, assessing the severity of the situation and analysing the possibility of returning to normal work or the existence of imminent danger and the need to evacuation.

But it is not only the employer who has responsibilities. Workers also have obligations and responsibilities regarding their own safety and those around them that can be exposed by their actions. According to their training and instruction, the workers should:

workers

  • Use in an adequate way all the machinery, tools, and transport dangerous materials correctly;
  • Use the right personal protective equipment and according to the task, returning it afterwards;
  • Not remove, change or disconnect any embedded safety systems in the machines, using their advantages instead;
  • Inform the employer of situations that pose serious and immediate danger;
  • Collaborate with the employer and/or the safety responsible to grant that the safety requirements are being carried out;

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is included, in several countries, in the ambit of Health Promoting Schools.

Note that a Health Promoting School encourages the health and wellbeing of students and school staff, engages with parents and community and includes: Personal Social Health, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health, Citizenship, Participation and Empowerment (engage and be part of your community).

Health promotion in the school context should also pay particular attention to school’s policies to promote health and wellbeing.

Health Promoting Schools are not only defined by schools' policies but also by the school's physical environment, community links (parents and local groups), the school's social environment, taking action to improve one’s health and wellbeing and of their community and the access to health care services.

"The physical environment refers to the buildings, grounds and equipment in and surrounding the school, such as: the building design and location; the provision of natural light and adequate shade; the creation of space for physical activity and facilities for learning and healthy eating.
The physical environment also refers to: basic amenities such as maintenance and sanitation practices that prevent transmission of disease; safe drinking water availability; air cleanliness; as well as any environmental, biological, or chemical contaminants detrimental to health."

International Union for Health Promotion and Education, IUHPE, 2009



principles of prevention

To improve safety and health at work concerning occupational accidents and diseases, the European Union has established the general principles regarding prevention and protection of the workers. The general principles of prevention are:

The general

principles

of prevention are:

Avoiding risks


Evaluating the risks


Combating the risks at source


Adapting the work to the individual


Adapting to technical progress


Replacing the dangerous by the non-or less dangerous


Developing a coherent overall prevention policy


Prioritizing collective protective measures (over individual protective measures)


Giving appropriate instructions to the workers

safety

The state of being safe, freedom from injury or danger.

health

A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

risk

Combination of the likelihood of an occurrence of a hazardous event or exposure and the severity of injury or ill health that can be caused by the event or exposure.

hazard

Source, situation, or act with a potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill health, or a combination of these.

wellbeing

The fulfilment of important needs of individuals and the realization of goals and plans set for one’s life.

occupational injury

Any personal injury, disease or death resulting from an occupational accident; an occupational injury is therefore distinct from an occupational disease, which is a disease contracted as a result of an exposure over a period of time to risk factors arising from work activity.

prevention

All the steps or measures taken or planned at all stages of work in the undertaking to prevent or reduce occupational risks.

Ergonomics

Scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

pictogram with one person to represent the individual protective equipment

Personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment is considered any device or appliance

  • Designed to be worn or held by an individual for protection against one or more health and safety hazards;
  • Designed for both professional and private use;

The equipment is subjected to essential health and safety requirements that should be granted during its manufacturing and prior to be used, complying with the existing regulations. A European Community declaration of performance have to be produced by the manufacturer, considering that it is a product that has the conditions to perform as advertised.

pictogram with group of people to represent the collective protective equipment

Collective protective equipment

The collective protective equipment should be always implemented in precedence over the personal protective equipment, with the objective keep the source of danger far from the workers. This must be considered by the fact that a system of collective protection acts to all the workers, in addition to the fact that most of these systems last for most of the workers task. However, there may be work in which collective protection is not effective, thus requiring the use of individual protection systems that are suitable for the worker.

Safety signs are divided according to 6 different categories: Warning, Emergency, Fire, Obligation, Prohibition and Labelling.


yellow triangle with black stroke with an ‘E’ and an ‘X’ inside

Explosive atmosphere

yellow triangle with black stroke with a snowflake inside

Low temperature

yellow triangle with black stroke with suspended load inside

Suspended load

yellow triangle with black stroke with a magnet inside

Strong magnetic field

yellow rectangle with black stroke and black diagonal stripes

Obstacles / dangerous location

yellow triangle with black stroke with a zigzag arrow pointing down inside

Risk of electric shock

yellow triangle with black stroke with an exclamation mark inside

Several hazards

yellow triangle with black stroke with a person slippering back inside

Slippery when wet

yellow triangle with black stroke with a trefoil with waves of radiation streaming from it inside

Non-ionizing radiation

yellow triangle with black stroke with a shape whichlooks an ink blot inside

Laser symbol labels sav

yellow triangle with black stroke with a plain trefoil, which  looks like three 'c' joined together with a little circle in the middle all inside

Biohazard

yellow triangle with black stroke with an 'o' with flames on top of it inside

Oxidizig substances

yellow triangle with black stroke with two test tubes pouring liquid on a bar (piece of metal) and a hand with lines coming off of them inside

Hazardous substances (Acid)

yellow triangle with black stroke with an explosion situation inside

Risk of explosion

yellow triangle with black stroke with a flame of fire inside

Flammable material / Risk of fire

yellow triangle with black stroke with a trefoil and a circle in the middle inside

Radioactive substances

yellow triangle with black stroke with a human skull and two bones crossed together behind the skull inside

Toxic hazard

yellow triangle with black stroke with a person tripping inside

Tripping hazard

yellow triangle with black stroke with a person driving a forklift inside

Forklifts in use

green horizontal rectangle with black stroke with a person in running position following the direction of an arrow to a door (right to left) inside

Emergency exit

green vertical rectangle with black stroke with a door and a vertical arrow (top to bottom) bellow it inside

Emergency exit

green horizontal rectangle with black stroke with a door, an arrow (top to bottom) and a person in running position inside

Emergency exit

green square with black stroke with a door and an arrow (right to left) inside

Emergency exit

green square with black stroke with a door and an arrow (top to bottom) inside

Emergency exit

green square with black stroke with an arrow (top to bottom) inside

Direction to follow

green square with black stroke with an arrow (right to left) inside

Direction to follow

green square with black stroke with an arrow (left to right) inside

Direction to follow

green square with black stroke with an arrow (bottom to top) inside

Direction to follow

red square with black stroke with an arrow (top to bottom) inside

Direction to follow

red square with black stroke with an arrow (right to left) inside

Direction to follow

red square with black stroke with an arrow (left to right) inside

Direction to follow

red square with black stroke with an arrow (bottom to top) inside

Direction to follow

red square with black stroke with a fire hose reel inside

Fire hose reel

red square with black stroke with a fire ladder inside

Fire ladder

red square with black stroke with a fire extinguisher inside

Fire extinguisher

red square with black stroke with a telephone inside

Fire emergency phone

blue circle with black stroke with an exclamation mark inside

Generic obligation sign

blue circle with black stroke with a person walking inside

Footpath for pedestrians

blue circle with black stroke with a person wearing a safety harness inside

Wear safety harness

blue circle with black stroke with a person face wearing a safety helmet inside

Wear safety helmet

blue circle with black stroke with two safety gloves inside

Wear safety gloves

blue circle with black stroke with a person face wearing a respiratory protection mask

Wear respiratory protection

blue circle with black stroke with a person wearing a protective suit inside

Wear protective clothing

blue circle with black stroke with a person face wearing a face protection mask

Wear face protection

blue circle with black stroke with a person face wearing protective goggles

Wear goggles

blue circle with black stroke with a person wearing ear protections inside

Wear ear protections

blue circle with black stroke with a pair of safety boots inside

Wear safety boots

white circle with black stroke with a tap and a glass below it and a red circle with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

Not for drinking

white circle with black stroke with a hand with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

Do not touch

white circle with black stroke with a person walking with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

Pedestrians prohibited

white circle with black stroke with a person driving a forklift with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

No access for forklift

white circle with black stroke with a bucket dropping water to a flame of fire with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

Do not extinguish with water

white circle with black stroke with a cigarette burning with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

No smoking

white circle with black stroke with a person raising a hand ordering to stop with diagonal line in front of the pictogram

No entry

vertical shape with rounded upper corners divided into black background with an 'a' and red backgroud with information of asbestos

Contains asbestos

white diamond shape with red stroke with two test tubes pouring liquid on a bar (piece of metal) and a hand with lines coming off of them inside

Corrosive

white diamond shape with red stroke with and explosion situation inside

Explosive

white diamond shape with red stroke with a bottle inside

Gas under pressure

white diamond shape with a flame of fire inside

Flammable

white diamond shape with an 'o' with flames on top of it inside

Oxidizing

white diamond shape with a human torso with white rips on the chest inside

Serious health hazard

white diamond shape with an exclamation mark inside

Health hazard

white diamond shape with a tree and a dead fish inside

Hazardous to the environment

white diamond shape with a human skull and two bones crossed together behind the skull inside

Acute toxicity

An emergency plan defines a set of rules and procedures, acting as an instrument of prevention, establishing the means to deal with an accident or catastrophe which may endanger the safety of people.

What an emergency plan should have:


The Evacuation routes should be well planned and consider the following aspects:


Types of emergencies to be reported by site personnel are medical, fire, chemical spill, extended power loss and severe weather.


medical emergency

  • Call emergency phone number
  • Do not move the victim unless extremely necessary

fire emergency

When fire is discoverd:

  • Activate the nearest fire alarm
  • Call the emergency phone number

Try to extinguish the fire only if:

  • The fire department has been notified
  • The fire is small and is not spreading
  • Escaping is possible
  • The fire extinguisher is in working condition and you are trained to use it

chemical spill

If it is a large chemical spill:

  • Notify the emergency coordinator or responsible
  • Contain the spill with available equipment (e.g.: pads, booms, absorbent powder)
  • Secure the area and alert other occupants
  • Do not attempt to clean the spill, unless trained to do it

If it is a small chemical spill:

  • Notify the emergency coordinator or responsible
  • Deal with the spill in a safe manner and using the proper protective equipment

severe weather

  • Check if computers and equipment need to be unplugged
  • Stay inside and away from windows
  • Avoid talking on the phone (including cell phones!)
  • Stay away from all electronics, appliances, and metal items like doors and window frames. You can be injured by lightning inside the office too
  • Go to a basement, if one is available
  • Avoid getting under or near objects with large dimensions
toxic hazard sign, which is: yellow triangle with black stroke with a human skull and two bones crossed together behind the skull inside

did you know that...

The symbolism of the Skull and Crossbones has its roots in the Ancient Egypt. It was first seen in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The symbol was also used by the templars in the Middle Ages. Later, the Christians used the symbol to express death or as a “memento mori” (“remember death”). In the XV century the Skull and Crossbones was adopted by the feared pirates.
Nowadays the symbol is used to mean acute toxicity in hazard pictograms.

Let's experience an overall vision about OSH!

Creating your own digital story and mapping the hazards in your daily life and school. You are now invited to conceive a project about safety and health, to take it outdoors and engage with the local community!