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a new manufacturing process for a bakery product. The process includes oat flour which is added to a mixing vessel with other wet and dry ingredients to form dough, which is then baked in shaped tins. Depending on batch size, a specific quantity of the flour (either 2.5 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, or 15 kg) is required to be added for each batch of dough. Note: the supplier has indicated 10 kg bags of oat flour are currently available.

Your task is to help design the process to minimise/prevent exposure to the oat flour. In your answer, consider what controls can be employed to help protect the health of the workers who must load the oat flour into the mixing vessel.

Assessment criteria and marks:

Information (incl. health effects and exposure information) relating to oat flour which would be used as part of a risk assessment for the new process (i.e. hazard identification)
Types of control strategies employed and preferences for each strategy suggested in relation to the process described above.

Hazards and occupational health problems associated with the baking industry

The Baking industry is prone to health hazards and occupational health problems. Majority of hazards found in baking industry are preventable when the right control strategies are used. Oat flour is remarkably essential substances of production in baking industry as they contain essential fibers and proteins. The purpose of this paper is to discuss prevention methods, and strategies of exposure to oat flour as well as Personal Protective Equipment used at the workplace.

Majority of workers who work in the baking industry and are exposed to heat flour are usually become sensitive after repeated exposure to oat flour, they develop allergic reactions, and finally, some may develop asthma condition. The most conditions developed by workers who get exposed to oat flour is dermal reactions, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and other respiratory symptoms. The most severe and frequent occupational allergy developed is asthma (Adewoye et al 2014, p.3).

Oat flour is a primary material used in the baking industry. Considering characteristics of activities which run in a baking industry, there is a severe exposure to flour dust by the employees in the bakeries. The level of exposure to dust from oat flour varies according to the level of the company production and the working area within the industry. High level of exposure is experienced during mixing and baking stage as well as when opening of flour containers. This increases the risk of respiratory conditions as the exposure level increases (Aguwa and Arinze-Onyia 2014, pp.21-25).

The best methods of preventing effects of oat flour exposure to employees are by ensuring companies operating in baking provide a working environment that is free from flour risks to their employees. These companies should implement effective methods to reduce their employee exposure to flour dust to the lowest levels as their ultimate targets. To enable these companies to reach their ultimate goal of reducing exposure to flour dust, a principle such as STOP can be applied (Crandall et al. 2016, pp.849-853).

Systemic: this includes designing of risk control measures that are suitable for helping the company in maintaining a hygienic and safe condition, for example, ensuring working sites are clean and free from dust particles. Workplaces should be designed in ways that are easy ways to remove dust and easy cleaning of surfaces within the company (Fahim and El-Prince 2013, pp.214-219).

Technical: technical measures may include coming up with appropriate strategies which can help in reducing the level of dust release to the environment as well as exposure to the employees. The use of the latest technology in production can be employed to minimize manual laboring which reduces exposure to human beings. Baking companies can also adopt on the use of machines when doing baking as a strategy of reducing exposure of these components(Kogler  2015, p.1).

Prevention methods and strategies of oat flour exposure control

 Organizational: companies working in the baking industry can apply organization measure by reducing the number of people who visit highly contaminated areas. They can also decide on reducing the number of employees who work in areas that are highly contaminated with oat flour to reduce the number of people exposed to the flour dust. The best strategy an organization can use in reducing exposure level is through educating their employees about safe working habits, labeling of hazardous environment and products within the company, ensuring both raw and produced products are safely stored and finally safe disposal of company wastes to avoid further contaminations (Moghaddasi et al 2014, pp.113-118).

Personal measures. Personal protective measures include the use of personal protective equipment ( using goggles, gloves, and clothes), respiratory protection. Personal protecting actions should be the last line of protection against flour dust in the company. This should be used to reduce or eliminate the risks from acceptable margins (Khodarahmi et al. 2013, pp.26-26).

The best strategy of effectively preventing against health and occupational risks effects against exposure to oat flour is through ensuring there is proper surveillance against these risks within the industry. Monitoring can also be employed to check on the safety of working environment through assessment of workers healths, for example, complains about respiratory-related issues.

Workers health assessment can be done through check-ups to identify allergies and also the exclusion of workers who are atopic (Holness 2014, p.410).

Personal protective equipment is useful in protecting an individual or workers against safety and health risks willing working. They may include items such as safety harnesses, safety footwear, high visibility clothing, eye protection, gloves, and helmets. For workers who work in timber, they need personal protective equipment such as boots, safety glasses while using special machinery including ear muffs to prevent them from loud noise. Every company has a specific procedure for the type of PPE to be used while working in their industry. Majority of these companies make visible signs on the walls to indicate the type of PPE an individual is supposed to wear while working in a particular place within that company (Reinhold et al. 2014, pp.895-906).

Filtering devices include powered respirators, full face mask respirators, half mask respirators, and dust masks. They use filters to eliminate contaminants from the air within the working area. Filtering devices work by negative pressure through an air purifying filter which is attached to face pice through an inhalation valve. Contaminated air is drawn from outside through the purifier filters by the help of negative pressure.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in the baking industry

They are respiratory filtering devices that use an independent supply of air, fresh air hose for example air compressor or air cylinder. Breathing apparatus that are powered to supply air use positive pressure devices to aid in the supply of quality air. The majority of companies use positive device air filters in environments that are highly hazardous and have exposure to unclean air.

There are various components which should be observed before implementation of the PPE program.  Among factors that must be considered is; equipment factors, work environment factors, task-related factors, and individual factors (Yovi and Yamada 2015, pp.213-221).

Equipment factors. The equipment selected must be useful for use on the task intended. It should also be compatible with the environment where the work is designed to be done, PPE used and the person who will wear it.

Work environment factors. Before equipment is selected, there should be a good assessment to ascertain that the environment has oxygen deficiency. After a precise evaluation on the environment then before the PPE is used, there should also be a clear indication that the environment is likely to be corrosive or it's corrosive, and there is a high capability of air contamination.

Task-related factors. There should be a clear visibility requirement for example in the timber industry, selection of PPE in control of respiratory infections should focus on tools which are used in the timber industry as well as types of personal protective equipment used in this industry. Lastly, management program should also focus on establishing the handling used at the place of work for example if manual handling will affect the type of respiratory protective equipment as well as the duration of use or wear.

Individual factors. Individual factors to be considered before selection of respiratory protective factors include factors such as fitting facepiece or assessment of fit of tight, use of contact lens, use of spectacles, facial characteristics of the person who will use respiratory protective equipments and medical fitness for example checking on presence of conditions such as heart diseases, bronchitis or asthma (Top et al 2016, pp.374-381).

There are four steps which an organization or company can use in implementing new programs at the workplace.

  1. Identify the need for the program.To effectively implement a program such as respiratory protective equipment, an organization need to identify the need of other employees and include them in the new program. Like in the timber industry, the program should meet protective measures of all people within the organization depending on the level of risks of exposure.
  2. Determine program content. This may include a new procedure for handling different types of equipment within the organization to prevent respiratory infections. This can consist of signs at every workplace indicating which equipment should be used.
  3. Communicate with employees. This can include educating them on how the new equipment will be used. It can also include creating awareness of respiratory risks within the organization and promote the use of PPE for all employees with the aim of improving their health.
  4. Update the previous program and revise procedures. This can be done in writing to all employees indicating the new tools which they need to use while at work. The new program can then be launched but be reviewed regularly to assess areas of weakness and which devices are not working correctly (Yuantari et al. 2015, p.142).

References

Adewoye, K.R., Awoyemi, A.O., Babatunde, O.A., Atoyebi, O.A., Salami, S.K. and Issa, F.Y., 2014. Effect of health education intervention on the awareness and use of personal protective equipments among small scale electric arc welders. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 18(1), p.3.

Aguwa, E.N. and Arinze-Onyia, S.U., 2014. Assessment of Baking industries in a Developing Country: The common Hazards, Health challenges, control measures and Association to Asthma. Age (years), 15(20), pp.21-25.

Crandall, P.G., O'Bryan, C.A., Grinstead, D.A., Das, K., Rose, C. and Shabatura, J.J., 2016. Role of ethnographic research for assessing behavior of employees during cleaning and sanitation in food preparation areas. Food Control, 59, pp.849-853.

Fahim, A.E. and El-Prince, M., 2013. Pulmonary function impairment and airway allergy among workers in traditional bakeries. International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health, 26(2), pp.214-219.

Holness, D.L., 2014. Occupational skin allergies: testing and treatment (the case of occupational allergic contact dermatitis). Current allergy and asthma reports, 14(2), p.410.

Khodarahmi, B., Dehghan, H., Motamedzadeh, M., Zeinodini, M. and Hosseini, S., 2013. Effect of respiratory protection equipments wear on heart rate in different workload. International Journal of Environmental Health Engineering, 2(1), pp.26-26.

Kogler, R., 2015. Near accidents with agricultural vehicles, machinery and equipment in Austria in the year 2013. Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal, 17(1).

Moghaddasi, Y., Mirmohammadi, S., Ahmad, A., Nejad, S.E. and Yazdani, J., 2014. Health–risk assessment of workers exposed to flour dust: A cross–sectional study of random samples of bakeries workers. Atmospheric Pollution Research, 5(1), pp.113-118.

Reinhold, K., Kalle, S. and Paju, J., 2014. Exposure to high or low frequency noise at workplaces: differences between assessment, health complaints and implementation of adequate personal protective equipment. Agronomy research, 12(3), pp.895-906.

Top, Y., Adanur, H. and Öz, M., 2016. Comparison of practices related to occupational health and safety in microscale wood-product enterprises. Safety Science, 82, pp.374-381.

Yovi, E.Y. and Yamada, Y., 2015. Strategy to disseminate occupational safety and health information to forestry workers: the felling safety game. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, pp.213-221.

Yuantari, M.G., Van Gestel, C.A., Van Straalen, N.M., Widianarko, B., Sunoko, H.R. and Shobib, M.N., 2015. Knowledge, attitude, and practice regarding the use of personal protective equipment. Environmental monitoring and assessment, 187(3), p.142.

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