ENVIRONMENTAL ERGONOMIC RISK FACTORSIn addition to traditional risk factors, industrial medicine clinicians must watch for environmental factors that may contribute to work-related injuries.To protect workers from environmental risk factors, groups such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists have developed acceptable exposure limits and guidelines. While some may be used as legal standards, others are merely used to make recommendations for worker safety. These common environmental risk factors can put workers in harm’s way.Vibration.Vibration is the back and forth, linear motion that an object experiences as it moves to a defined stationary point. A worker’s body can experience an amplification of the vibration’s intensity, which exacerbates the effects.Vibration can represent a type of cumulative trauma, affecting multiple body parts and organs. The duration of exposure and the direction and intensity of the vibration are important factors to consider. In an occupational setting, workers can experience whole-body or segmental vibration. The human body tolerates whole-body vibration better in the standing position. Women tend to experience more discomfort than men. To modify its effects, recommend suspended seating systems to isolate the vibration source. Maintain vehicle suspension systems regularly and keep tires properly inflated. Remote-control systems can operate vibration-producing processes without body contact.Promote good working posturesand neutral joint positions, and avoid lifting or bending immediately following vibration exposure. Allow a longer recovery period for exposed tissues, and provide vibration-absorbing materials, such as rubberized anti-vibration mats or gel shoe inserts.Segmental vibration affects a specific body segment--often the upper extremity--when using power tools or industrial machinery. Control strategies include fasteners or dampening devices to reduce the “drive” of the tool; attenuation covers and personal protective equipment, such as gel packed gloves and gel shoe inserts; tool and balance maintenance; sharpening grinders and cutting tools; and increasing revolutions per minute or cycle time of a power tool.Thermal stress.Workplace temperature can affect worker performance and increase the likelihood of cumulative trauma injuries.Hot and cold extremes can lead to overexertion injuries and even death. Hot and humid temperatures cause excessive fatigue, while extreme cold can cause overexertion and reduced finger tactility. Temperature extremes may also require additional or less protective clothing, leading to mobility impairments and trip-and-fall hazards.Manage cold stress with dry insulating clothing, gloves, warm air jets, radiant heaters or warming plates. Cover metal tools with thermal insulation. Reduce airflow with windshields or barriers. If cold stress can’t be controlled, recommend job rotation and warm-up periods.With excessive heat, adequate ventilation through airflow and industrial fans can help. Clothing should be loose and made from thin, breathable materials. Job rotation and rest periods are also essential.Sound and noise.Excessive noise can distract workers and lead to long-term damage. Implement noise control programs, hearing conservation programs (including annual hearing test), sound-absorbing barriers and ear protection can guard against excessive noise exposure.Illumination.Lighting levels influence worker ability. Straining can lead to eye and muscle problems, while excessive brightness can be distracting.Provide additional task lighting when high visual acuity is required. Minimize indirect and direct glareby placing the light source as far away from a worker’s visual line of sight as possible, using multiple low-level light sources and implementing light shields or reflectors. When using video display units, apply anti-glare screens or anti-reflection coatings, and change the work area to avoid indirect glare on the monitor.
When an employee misses work because of injury, families and companies suffer. A few inexpensive recommendations can make the difference between a safe workplace and a costly misfortune.
We watched for any signs of infection, and everything went fine. I will add here, that the dentist did stick me with a pointed instrument both in front and behind my gums, to check how long I might bleed.