Health care has had a revolutionary change in the global market and each and every sector of health care industry is now advancing at an appreciable rate all over the world. The fast paced progress in the health care industry have been aided by the progressive technological revolution in the infrastructure of the health care industries. However, alongside of the boost provided by the technological innovation, the progress of the pharmaceutical industry cannot be ignored either. It can be stated that the health care sector of UK has enhanced considerably in the past few decades and the growing pharmaceutical industry has been an important contributor of the success that the health care industry has attained in this demographic. On a more elaborative note, more than 65000 people in the United Kingdom are now employed in the pharmaceutical industry; and along with that a whooping £2.6 billion revenue to the GDP of United Kingdom at a stretch. However, despite the increasing demand of this highly profitable industry, the risks associated has to be mentioned in this account as well (Pangestuti and Kim 2011).
A pharmaceutical industry deals with many hazardous chemical and active ingredients on a daily level and many of them are raw agents with no specialized understanding of the actual toxicity levels. There are many divisions within an operational pharmaceutical industry and mostly the sectors like research and development, manufacturing and the storage departments are the sections that deal with many pharmacologically activated agents that can be the cause to may physiological and metabolic hazards to human bodies. Although the progress in the medication industry is the need of the hour and the discovery of new medication can not be abandoned at any point (Agyei and Danquah 2011). That is the reason there are many health and safety protocols legislated by the global and national authorities to avoid the chances of any adverse events. This assignment will attempt to focus on two particular departments, manufacturing and storage within a pharmaceutical industry to discover the possible hazards and measures taken to avoid them, and will attempt to compare them to legislative protocols within the pharmaceutical industry and the practice standards of chemical industries.
Brief review of the organization selected:
Scientific industries are the need of the hour for the society and in case of the health acre industry, the health needs of the generation is increasing every day. It has to be understood in this context that the complexities of the health care concerns are increasing with the deteriorating life style and hence the health need are demanding better and more functional medication and treatment options (Deblonde and Hartemann 2013). Hence, the pharmaceutical industries are now facing optimal demands and in order to address the needs the manufacturing rates and pace have been doubled in the past couple of days as well. Although on the quest for better and more efficient targeted medication at a more faster pace, the occupational health and safety standards and protocols are being neglected every day. According to the authors, the pharmaceutical industry is the section of the scientific organization that faces the most pressing market demands in the present day scenario. In addition along with that, due to the extremely strict drug discovery and marketing acts, the pressure on the pharmaceutical industries in the present scenario is maximal (Boxall et al. 2012). It has to be mentioned in this context that in order to fulfil all the legislations and to meet the market demands, the pharmaceutical companies often resort to neglecting the occupational safety protocols. Hence, for this assignment, the chosen scientific organization chosen is a pharmaceutical organization that is associated with manufacturing the most of the modified drugs. There were two departments chosen to be reviewed in the program and the departments chosen had been the manufacturing department and the storage departments, where the potential safety hazards are the maximal.
Potential hazards in departments and the safety measures appointed:
The visit to the pharmaceutical industry had the primary objective to discover the basic and most frequently practiced occupational health and safety measures and how justified these measures are in the light of the potential hazards prevalent in both of the departments (Charoo and Ali 2013).
The very first department visited had been the manufacturing department, where the health risks were much more heightened due to the fact that the most of the pharmacologically activated raw agents were handled and utilized in this section. On a more elaborative note, it has to be mentioned that in case of a pharmaceutical industry, the manufacturing of drugs can be neatly divided into two main subdivisions, the primary or bulk production of the active ingredients and followed by the dosage associated secondary manufacturing procedure. According to the Mamtani et al. (2011), the pharmaceutical product manufacturing is much like the pesticide manufacturing, like both of the industries, the active ingredient is the focus of the entre procedure and the concentration of the agents are usually within the range of 0.1 to 10%. Hence, the very first possible hazard in the manufacturing department can be the toxicity hazard; now it has to be mentioned in this context that the most frequently observed and reported contributing factor behind the health hazards to the workers in a pharmaceutical industry is the toxicity hazard. There were various objects discovered to be possibly toxic to the health and safety of the workers of the pharmaceutical company, like the active agents, binders, fillers, flavouring and bulking agents, preservatives, antioxidants, and pharmaceutical solvents (Oldenkamp et al. 2014). Hence, the occupational health and safety risk to exposure is the most impactful risk encountered in the visit to the manufacturing department. Another safety risk to the staff of the manufacturing department had been the workplace safety hazards associated with moving machine parts. Equipments, high pressure steams, and heating machineries. Last risks identified in the manufacturing departments had been the fugitive emissions from the leaking pumps, valves and manifold stations, especially during the processes of extraction and purification, in such cases the risk of fire hazards has been discovered as well.
The next department under focus of the study had been the storage department. Now it has to be mentioned that the storage departments of any pharmaceutical industry has to maintain the most safe and secure environment for the drugs, and hence the safety risks identified were also minimal in this case. The very first risk identified had been the chances of spillage and leakage of the liquid nitrogen used for the cryopreservation of certain drugs. The leakage of the liquid nitrogen can lead to a sudden fire and in case of exposure, respiratory disorders can also occur. The company had taken spillage care essentially, so no direct spillage threat was discovered during the visit. Now it has to be mentioned that the possibility of sublimation of a certain drugs had not been taken into consideration, hence the sublimation and the resultant toxic fumes and vapours can cause exposure risks for the staff as well.
Health and safety measures by the company:
Now coming to the safety measures taken by the company, the most potent measure taken by the company had been the mandatory usage of the personal protection attire for the staff that worked in both the manufacturing and storage section of the company. It hast to be mentioned that the according to the most important of the legislation the most of the threats to exposure in any of the pharmaceutical industry can be avoided by the correct and mandatory usage of personal protection equipments. Along with the customary overalls, gloves and masks, the workers also were mandatorily made to wear protective eye gears and ear buds to avoid even the minimal chances or exposure risks. For any leakage and spillage safety, the company had taken extra vigilance efforts to ensure that if any spillage has occurred it is taken care of very quickly and with as minimal amount of exposure risks as possible. However, the hydraulics infrastructure of the company is not up to the mark and that is the reason why the risks for moving heavy objects have been not taken care of optimally (Burke et al. 2011). However, there are safety guards in case of the heavy machinery, however they are only fixed safety guards. In case of avoiding the fire related hazards, the probability of the particular hazards were avoided by the installation of the thermal expansion detectors, which will detect any chances fire hazards before it can happen. Along with that, the heat insulation technology in the company coupled with the well planed and properly ventilated design of the operational space avoids any chances of a fire risk escalating. In case of the rightful storage of the drugs, the company follows the regular protocol with no innovative efforts. For instance, the air-tight contamination free storing criteria is met diligently, although there is no care given to the liquid nitrogen that is used for the storing purposes. Along with that, a very minimal care is given to the prospect of the sublimation properties of the few drugs and the resultant hazards that can occur (McDonald and Vital 2016).
Hazard safety protocols legislations:
Occupation health and safety can be considered as one of the key priorities of the public services sector and there are many national authorities involved with the process of designing and enforcing the legislative standards. It has to be mentioned that the sector for occupational health and safety is maintained with a common set of guidelines all across United Kingdom. The decisive authorities are the secretarial boards of different states and the parliament members for the activities that are occurring in case of the HSE activities in the nation (Hse.gov.uk. 2018). The guidelines are known as the approved codes of practice and are complied to throughout the different industrial sectors. In this case the health and safety at work act provides the necessary guidelines and protocols for the pharmaceutical industries to follow. There are four main objectives that the industrial sector has to follow in order to maintain optimal occupational health and safety. The very first requirement of the act is to secure health, safety and welfare of all the staff at the workplace. This section relates to the overall hazard risk assessment and avoidance of the entire infrastructure. For instance for the industry visited for this assignments, this section relates to the maintaining of the working station and the machinery well maintained and risk free. The second guidelines are to protect the staff from all the risks and safety hazards arising from the activities that are performed in the workplace (Hse.gov.uk. 2018). It has to be mentioned that the company has taken enough efforts to the individual care and protection if their staff and hence this standard can be considered adhered to. The next standard implies control and storage of explosives and highly inflammable toxic substances in the workplace. Now it has to be mentioned that for the industry under focus for this assignment, commendable care has been take to avoid any possible fire hazards, however, in case of care of inflammable substances prone to sublimation, extra efforts for maintenance is required (Robson et al. 2012). The very last standard implies controlling the emission into the atmosphere of any offensive substance, the company’s efforts at maintaining and monitoring the safety and security of the drugs can be appreciated. Apart from the emission risk of the liquid nitrogen used for the storage purposes, no other emission risks were discovered.
Difference with a chemical industry:
Despite the superficial similarities between two of the industries, the pharmaceutical industry and the chemical industry are two very different sectors, and the operational characteristics for both of the industries also bear stark differences. It has to be stated here that the chemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry both deals with chemical active reagents and the manufacturing and storage procedures are also very similar, the although the different lies in the operational and business process management, the pressure of market demands, and countless legislations and protocols to comply to. It has to be acknowledged in this context that the pharmaceutical industries are focussed on the plant derived products and their extraction and modifications, whereas the chemical industries rely on the chemical reactions and extraction processes more prevalently, hence the nature of the occupational health and safety measures taken in both the industries are also very different (Kennedy et al. 2010). For instance, the use of heavy machinery is much more in case of a regular chemical industry and hence, the health and safety measures are more directed at the maintenance of the heavy machinery. For instance the use of different kinds of safety guards, both interlocked and adjustable guards are used in abundance along with fixed guards in chemical industries. The use of fire extinguishing in case of chemical industries are not as advanced as in the pharmaceutical industries, and the occasional use of UV or IR detectors can also be found in certain cases. Another very common safety practice in case of any large scale chemical industry is the usage of the barrier creams before handling of the corrosive elements. However, in case of storage and personal protection of the staff, the safety standards of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry are more or less similar (Reese 2015).
Chemical industries are associated with hazards that are based on the mishaps and errors with the heavy machinery and highly inflammable and sublimable chemical components and reagents. And that is the reason the health and safety measures that are applicable to a chemical Industry are not directly transferable to the scenario of a pharmaceutical industry. As mentioned above in case of the chemical industry, the safety measures such as different kinds of machinery guards and advanced fire sensing and extinguishing technology is more beneficial for the staff of a chemical industry undoubtedly. Although for a pharmaceutical industry, the machinery that are generally used are not always as huge and heavy when compared to chemical Industry and on the other hand, Pharmaceutical industries generally has equipment range that is more operational on the highly technical and expensive equipments compatible with the assessment and testing of plant based active reagents and drugs. Hence in case of this industry the health and safety hazards as well include risk of exposure and contamination more than anything. Hence health and safety measures for pharmaceutical industry has to emphasize more on the personal safety and protection of the staff from the different exposure risks rather than evacuation or operational setting based safety hazard management (Boxall et al. 2012). For the pharmaceutical industry under consideration for this industry the most of the health and safety emphasis had been on the personal protection of the staff. On a more elaborative note, the personal protection gears that were provided to the staff of the company where to be used by a mandatory policy, non compliance to which can even cost monetary fine and remuneration based consequences for the staff. The extra emphasis on ear buds and eye gears along with the customary overall gloves and mask also emphasizes on protecting the basic health and safety of the stuff that is at huge risk due to different exposure hazards in a pharmaceutical industry. Hence it can be stated that the health and safety measures that were taken by the company where in complete coordination to the health and safety needs of a pharmaceutical industry and maintains the specialized contrast that is followed in a regular chemical industry (Kennedy et al. 2010).
On a concluding note, it can be mentioned that the importance of the pharmaceutical industry is maximal in the present time and day and that is the reason the market needs of the pharmaceutical industry is going every day. However, it has to be mentioned that in order to cope with the increasing demands, the occupational health and safety of the staff must not be ignored as well. Moreover, the excellence and progress of any industry is acutely dependent on the competence and productivity of the staff. Hence, the industry managerial authorities must also take adequate measures to safeguard the health and welfare of the staff as well. The pharmaceutical industry chosen for the assignments had a number of flaws in case of the compliance to the health and safety regulations, although some of the measures were commendable as well. Although, extra efforts should be invested in order to improve the occupational health and safety of the company.
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