Work plays a central role in the life of people and since most of the workers have to spend at least 8 hours a day in a workplace, the workplace should be healthy and safe. Every day workers all over the world are faced with several work related hazards. Health hazards are more in vogue in the industrial sectors such as the construction industries and the mining industries, where every day the workers are subjected go several health hazards (Friend and Kohn 2014). For example inhalation of harmful chemicals at the workplace, exposure to construction debris, excessive heat and smoke and more can have adverse effect on the health of the workers and families. The manufacture industry, mining industry, oil refineries, and the construction industries are considered as the priority industry for the work health and the safety. There are at least 250 million of the occupational hazards occurring worldwide, out of which 335,000 resulted in mortality(Chen and Zorigt 2013). According to the reports the developing countries are encountered with fatal hazards more than the developed countries. The number of diseases related to workplace is much higher in reality than that of the actual number reported. The training regarding the maintenance of health and safety in industries is important as very little information regarding the work and safety in the Singapore manufacture industry is available. The most common self-reported exposure to hazards are the exposure to the airborne hazards, vibration, noises, heat, burn and obnoxious fumes (Zanko and Dawson 2012). Before this training I had a very limited knowledge regarding the health and the safety in industries. To me, it was only about the exposure to the harmful gases and heat. But with this workplace safety diploma course have not only enhanced my knowledge about wide array of hazards that occurs in industrial sectors but have also helped me to learn about suitable strategies regarding the work place hazards.
By the end of this course, I believe that I would be able to understand the different types of occupational health hazards, identify the appropriate ways to identify the hazards, identify the potential triggers that leads to hazards, understand the commitment of the management and employees towards the prevention of the hazards, different strategies to prevent and cope up with the hazards. In my course module we have gained idea about sensible risk management, ergonomic, toxicology, hazardous agents, the probable hazardous industries and health and safety management of the industrial hazards.
Ergonomics is a practice to design the workplace or the products required to fulfill the aims of the occupational health and safety. The main aim is to make the organization a holistic workplace to where the physical, emotional and the safety well-being of the patient should be taken care off. Heavy metal industries involve tasks of repetitive movements, manual handling, poor body positioning and uncomfortable height of the work station that can cause musculoskeletal injuries and I have learnt how the employees face problems related to the equipment operation and layout, computer systems, lighting, thermal comfort and noises and the proposed solutions that we have learnt are more general and might not be applicable to all settings (Mahmoudi et al. 2013). Hence I believe that the study materials should have been more specific. For example the ergonomics intervention that has to be taken in case of heavy engineering industries should be entirely different from a bank. Jobs that involve manual handling cause physical stress in comparison to a bank employee who require more mental involvement and hence strategies should be different in each case.
Increased humanization and urbanization are posing harmful effect on fauna and the flora. The industrial pollution are affected the wetlands, oceans, rivers, lakes and the agricultural fields. The different by-product of the industrial and the harmful wastes generated are posing a threat to both the terrestrial as well as the aquatic life (Schilling 2013). The quality of the surface water near the industrial sites is heavily degraded having a water quality index below 50 which is much lower than the normal level. The organic qualities of the soil are being affected by the untreated industrial sludge. Furthermore the degrading air quality in the industrial areas is posing threat to both the industrial workers and the neighborhood (Schilling 2013). Historical vestiges are also affected by the pollution caused by the industries. Previously Iwas aware of the environmental pollution caused by the industries, but did not have any idea about the role of the employees or the techniques in detail to mitigate the environmental hazards.
I believe that the initial step in managing accidents is the identification of the cause of the accident. In most of the cases, an accident occurs either due to the negligence of the employee or the employer. I strongly believethat consistently high fatal accident rates in the developing countries can only be controlled by occupational health and safety programs that focus on prevention. Similarly I have also felt that the occupational health service in this country should be developed robustly including the training of the employees and the employers. While studying about the occupational health hazards, I have also come to know that life risk that all the industrial and the marine occupational workers are encountered with, which have also developed a sense of respect towards these people stick to their commitment risking their life.
I believe that my learning would help me to flourish as an occupational safety officeras I think that I have inculcated important knowledge and skills required to become a safety officer, where I would be able to channelize my learning and work for the betterment of the organization. In spite of all my learnings I believe that mere theoretical learning would not help to develop substantial skills in dealing with the real life hazards, but hands on trainings and real drills are required to strengthen the theoretical knowledge.
My course has emphasized on five topics such as hazards in the construction industry, health and safety hazards in the oil and the gas drilling industries, women in the hazardous industry, the different marine and the offshore hazards and Occupational health in hazardous industry.
Although health hazards are seldom confined to specific sexes, but women’s anatomical and physiological make up makes them vulnerable to some of the occupational hazards. Women’s job structure is fluid and multidimensional. Female rig workers can have severe impact on their health and are likely to change positions due to excessive physical strain. They have also expresses concerns regarding the PPE and the unhygienic sanitary facilities (Zungu 2012). Exposure to radiations and obnoxious fumes can be harmful for the reproductive health of the women and hence as per my personal belief working on oil rigs gives more masculine vibes. Owing to the complex and the delicate bodies of women, the work place should be set in a holistic way to serve the physical needs of women, such as providing them with in-house jobs, provision of comfortable work stations and a women- friendly environment (DeMatteo et al. 2013). Women working in hazardous industries like oil and gas drilling have to face several problems. Oil and gas well drilling service require diverse equipment and materials. Recognition and the control of the hazards can be critical for preventing the injuries and deaths. Several types of hazards are associated with the oil and gas wells. This is to be mentioned that in most of the cases the oil and the gas field are located in remote areas and therefore the workers has to be transported to the sites (Mason et al. 2015). High way vehicle accidents may get the workers killed or injured. Hence out course has provided us with the knowledge of motor vehicle safety, work zone traffic safety, prevention strategies for the work related road accidents. Three of the five on site accidents in this industry are due to the struck by/ caught in hazards. The OSHA documents have provided with guidelines that helps us to address the standards associated with derricks, hoist and cranes. Furthermore the workers in the oil and the gas industries are faced with the risks of explosion and fire due to the ignition of the flammable and the ignition vapors. Flammable gases like the vapors, hydrogen sulphide can be emitted from the wells, production equipment (Mason et al. 2015). Ignition sources can be electrical energy sources, open flames, cutting and welding tools and frictional heat. I believe that this course has been helpful in providing with the guidance on handling of flammable gases and liquids and the possible strategies in case of dangerous firebreak out (Sousa et al. 2014). One such example of my learning is that now I understand that while monitoring the atmosphere with a gas detector, if the combustible gas exceeds above 10 percent of the lower explosive level (LEL), the work should be ceased immediately.
While reflecting on my knowledge regarding the occupational health hazards in a construction industry,it is to be informed that the hazards can be classified into six categories – the silica related diseases, the asbestos-related diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss due to excessive noises andhand-arm vibration syndrome (Hughes and Ferrett 2012). Dust, smoke, noise at a construction site is unavoidable but the use of the personal protective instruments can decrease the hazardous effects on human beings and can also protect the workers from sudden injuries (Hughes and Ferrett 2012). In this course we have learnt about the use of the different personal protective instruments at, the simple ways to avoid unnecessary exposure to construction debris, fall from heights and machine related crush accidents, the use of proper scaffoldings for preventing falls, proper use of the aerial lifts or elevated platforms. Notably I have also gained knowledge regarding the baseline of the allowable slopes for excavations, the ways to maintain a material safety data sheet and have learnt the proper means of hazard communication, as I feel it the only way to avoid upcoming avoidable hazards.
In this module we have also learnt about the product safety, consumer protection and the different ways of assessing the system and product safety. The module has helped us to learn about the testing and the certification of the products, inspection and the auditing and system certification, training and the knowledge services. The need for the product safety can be explained by the incidents like accidents due to the instruction of the steam boilers, the Chicago Expo fire that took place in the year 1894, while working in electricity products. We have also learnt about the regulating authorities and the accreditation units responsible for the product safety.
While focusing on another topic of my study regarding the various marine and offshore hazards, I must say that running a marine vessel by keeping in mind all the requirements as per the international regulations and sticking to then is not an easy task. Management of the hazardous material on on-board marine vessels and offshore platforms are now one of the complicated and growing requirement for the maritime operators all around the globe (Jepsen et al. 2015). Our study has emphasized on the high risk material management such as the identification of the hazardous substances, the audits for the management plans, the invitation to tender the documentation and the tender the analysis and the recommendations (Kristiansen 2013). I have also learned about the leading indicators of the occupational health and safety performance of a company that would help me understand whether a company is in compliance with OSHA standards (Sinelnikov et al. 2015).
One of the drawbacks of this course is that in order to finish the curriculum on time, we had to hurry through certain topics other than going deep into it, such as the strategies to manage with the marine and the offshore hazards. The study materials lacked the discussion of risk assessment tools in compliance with the various regulations like the ISM code, the OSHS standard, the tanker management self-assessment, the maritime labor convention and the safety and Environmental management systems (SEMS).
It is time that we deliberate on the occupational health and safety of the health and safety in the industries in this transitional economy. The health and the safety is getting compromised both in the construction industry and also in getting exposed to hazardous chemicals that are posing threat to human body.
One of the common themes that can be identified from these five sectors is health hazards. Regardless of the type of industry. Marine and offshore industry, construction industry, manufacture industry, food industry, all have their specific levels of health hazards whether it is musculoskeletal disorder, or respiratory diseases or other occupational diseases. Reduction of the health hazards is the proper risk assessment and the identification of the hazards. The identification tool acts as the directives for adopting specific interventions. I believe that in order to prevent hazards at the work place, it is necessary to identify the hazards that can be encountered with, before the commencement of the work. The health hazards at a construction site may come from the hazardous substances that are already present on the site. Risk assessment is the process for looking at the conditions which the workers are exposed to and whether the hazards can likely to harm the workers. Assessment of the risks should be done by considering the factors like the air concentration of the fumes, the dusts and the vapors generated from the work processes, the efficiency of the ventilation system for controlling the contaminants of the air, the likelihood of the skin and the eye contact with the irritants, exposure to hazardous physical agents like noise, heat, radiation, light and heat and the ergonomic factors.
The Bachelor of Science Safety, Health and Environmental Management course that I undertook is designed for preparing students for employment in the fast expanding area of health and safety management as well as environment management. As the course aims to develop the skills in learners to maintain and manage varied aspects of health and safety, I acknowledge the need to take additional initiatives to develop their competencies prior to initiation of the course. The rationale is that development of certain skills prior to enrollment into the course as well as at the initial stages of the course would enhance the competencies gained through it, thereby increasing the chances of employment at later stage. Given the opportunity to begin the course again, I would enroll in a soft skill development program that would help me in developing communication skills. Professionals working in the field of health and safety, and environment management need to have suitable communication skills that help them to work in collaboration with different stakeholders such as colleagues, clients, policy makers and the public. Enrollment in a specialized course would present the chance to learn skills for communicating promptly and professionally under different scenarios. Communication in the form for meetings, group discussion, presentations and site visits that are elementary part of a professional’s life in this field would be developed considerably. The course would also give me the chance to deliver messages to the target audience while taking part in presentations and group discussion embedded in the course. I would be able to handle interaction on the professional front using objective, tactful and sensitive approaches. Seeking opportunities for public speaking helps in broadening the target audience on issues of environmental science health and safety (Laberge, MacEachen and Calvet 2014).
Coming to the near end of this reflective portfolio, it would be justified to give a comprehensive overview of personal perceptions of the course and the value it added to my professional life. Most importantly, course has helped me to learn the much needed expertise to establish self as a Health and Safety practitioner and environment management specialist. The course gave me the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to draw from a diverse array of technical and non-technical skills. I have also been given the chance to apply my knowledge for developing practical solutions. The unique flexible course allowed me to set my own objectives and learn at my own pace in order to suit the demands of the course as per the time available. The balance of overall study load and assessments was justified in my opinion. The striking feature of the course is that students are guided to learn skills through different modes of assessments that are profoundly interactive. I would also like to mention that the course has helped me to raise my level of awareness regarding the responsibilities and duties that a safety practitioner has. I take confidence in stating that the course in Safety, Health and Environmental Management has gained immense appreciation in the recent past due to its clearly defined learning outcomes focusing on the integration of skills and knowledge that emerge from essential contents of the subject. The learning outcomes ensured that the instructor and student goals were appropriately aligned. The structure of the course also enabled students to utilize critical teaching material in an effective manner. Through such learning outcomes students are given opportunity to evaluate the methodological and theoretical foundations of the subject of health and safety, and environment management (Davis and Sumara 2014). The syllabus has been realistic in place of irrational so that the learning outcomes can establish the standards for the course.
As Gross et al. (2015) had commented, the learning process can only be successful when there is immense scope for sharing feedback within the education environment. Student outcomes are essentially improved when educators take a proactive approach in providing regular feedback to the learners enthusiastic to gain knowledge of the development they are making. In my opinion feedback is a powerful influence on achievement that systematically guides a student’s development. It would have been more advantageous if we were provided with verbal feedback throughout the course extensively. While summative assessments gave the opportunity to gain advanced knowledge, formative assessment in the form of verbal feedback would have provided further encouragement to take up future endeavors. Such feedback also establishes the foundation for appropriate student-educator relationship within the learning sphere (Woods and Welch 2018).
The reflective portfolio would come to an end with a note on how I intend to continue to learn and how I can develop myself for establishing a successful career in this sector. This would highlight how I aspire to make further progress. While the Bachelor of Science course has been elementary in acting as a foundational stone for my profession as a Health and Safety Practitioner, I opine that additional can be undertaken for broadening my knowledge level and becoming industry-ready. A common path to obtain specialization credentials is get enroll in an online course that can support further learning. I intend to enroll myself in applicable online courses focusing on specialized domains of the wide industry. This would ensure that my competencies as a professional are enhanced and I stay abreast of the recent developments made in the field. Chances of securing a full-time position in a reputed firm would thereby be strengthened. Online courses would come with the feature of being flexible and convenient as per my needs. The present course would make me more ambitious and help me remain informed for new challenges. As a student of health and safety management I aspire to contribute to the sector through continual professional development and zest to apply theory into practice.
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