Physical Hazards (Radiation, Vibration, Noise Control), Control Banding & Computer Apps: What a Mix!

Physical Hazards (Radiation, Vibration, Noise Control), Control Banding & Computer Apps: What a Mix!

Monday, June 1, 2015, 2:00 PM - 4:40 PM

CS-108-01 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) in Natural Gas: How to Anticip​​ate and Prevent NORM Waste and Subsequently Exposure

K. Boot, UBC, Calgary, AB, Canada


CS-108-02 Dealing with Fears of Radiation from Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM)

R. Johnson, Radiation Safety Counseling Institute, Rockville, MD

Situation/Problem: Workers are often greatly alarmed when first discovering that they may be receiving radiation exposures in the workplace from naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM). Since they are not employed as radiation workers, they have had no training to understand the significance of radiation exposures and they may quickly imagine terrible consequences. Such workers, along with other members of the public, have been sensitized through continuous reporting by the media with the words “deadly radiation.” Further fears may be fueled by radiation measurements with a Geiger-Mueller (GM) detector with no real understanding of what those measurements mean.

Resolution: IHs may easily obtain a GM detector and begin making measurements without knowing how it responds to NORM. It’s hard not to be fearful when hearing a screaming GM detector. However, this is not an adequate technical basis for automatic alarm. Unfortunately, GM measurements are often not made appropriately. And thus safety decisions may be based on count rates or on exposure readings taken in the wrong places. Worker fears could be greatly reduced by a 1-2 hour class on NORM Safety Awareness. This class should be a non-technical explanation of radiation, NORM, how to conduct measurements, and how to interpret the measurements related to safety guidelines.

Results: Ideally, in addition to NORM Safety Awareness, fearful workers should be given the opportunity to make their own measurements at locations of concern. IHs can best help workers with their question, “Is it safe?” by providing them with the information and tools to answer the question for themselves. We need to show workers how radiation safety specialists use an eight step process for answering questions on safety. Workers at one facility went from paranoid fear of radiation to calm understanding after a NORM Safety Awareness class and after making their own measurements.

Lessons Learned: Workers are much less fearful of NORM radiation when they make their own measurements and understand what the GM detector readings mean. When they learn the eight-step process for radiation safety decisions they are less likely to jump to fearful conclusions for safety that are not technically warranted. Without understanding NORM and radiation measurements misinterpretations abound. This can lead to needless anxieties, frustration, and anger which may result in disruption and costly responses in the workplace.

SR-108-03 Radiofrequency Exposures at Work: What We Know and Don’t Know

M. Shum, AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Objective: With the relatively recent IARC classification of radiofrequency (RF) from mobile phones as a Class 2B carcinogen, not only has the public experienced a renewed interest in RF exposures, but workers, employers and occupational health regulators have as well. The objective was to review the literature regarding occupational exposures to radiofrequency, determine which occupations are more highly exposed, and to explore possible mitigation strategies to reduce exposure.

Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify peer-reviewed articles relating to occupational exposure to RF and its health effects. Two databases, Medline and EBSCO were used. Key terms used were: radio waves, microwaves, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic field, occupational exposure, occupational diseases, as well as specific industries: plastic welders, amateur radio operators, broadcast station and radar. There were no date limits, but studies were limited to English only. 

Results: Workers that have been or continue to be exposed to sources of radiofrequency include military personnel, radio operators, broadcast tower/mobile phone base station maintenance workers, physiotherapists, and plastic welders. The exposure literature for these occupations is outdated and scant with exposures not well-characterized. For the studies that do include quantitative data, RF sealers appeared to have the highest exposures. Typical exposures for telecommunications workers and radio operators were below occupational health guideline limits. For MRI workers, incident field limits of RF can be exceeded within short distances of the bore entrance during the scan acquisition, but this happens rarely.

Conclusions: Controlling exposures in the workplace can pose a significant challenge, but the industrial hygiene principles of controls can still apply: substitution, engineering, and administrative controls. Personal protective equipment is likely not a viable option when dealing with the magnetic fields generated by these sources. Furthermore, the safety of occupational health guidelines for chronic RF exposure may be at question. Further research and better characterization of exposures in the workplace is needed and may prove useful for understanding factors that are important for public exposures as well. 

CS-108-04 Whole-Body Vibration Total Worker Exposure Assessment in the U.S.

H. Paschold, IUP- Safety Sciences, Indiana, PA

Situation/Problem: Adverse health effects of chronic exposure to whole-body vibration (WBV) include lower back pain (LBP), abdominal or digestive problems, cardiovascular disorders, or simple discomfort and annoyance. The adverse health effect of greatest concern is LBP. NIOSH assigned its highest ranking descriptor of “strong evidence” to the WBV-LBP relationship based on its epidemiological review. The European safety, health, and environmental (SHE) community has addressed WBV for decades, with government imposed action levels and exposure limits. SHE professionals in the U.S. have relatively little knowledge regarding WBV, in part due to WBV not being included in OSHA standards. WBV measurements are not performed often due to low SHE awareness and the high costs of instrumentation. Two prior broad industrial-sector studies provided U.S. WBV occupational exposure. A 1974 investigation estimated 8,000,000 US workers as having vibration exposure. The National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES) (1981–1983) estimated a total of 1,082,217 U.S. workers. A recent study, 2000, reported on WBV prevalence in Great Britain construction. No current U.S. data have been published for the total number of workers exposed to action levels or exposure limits.

Resolution: Construction was selected as a test category for an estimate. Conservative equipment usage estimates and representative WBV acceleration values were combined to determine exposure rates. Combined with BLS May 2014 employment data for individual construction trades and all-combined, the total number of exposed workers was calculated. 

Results: It was estimated 613,000 construction workers (12.0% of total) were exposed above the 8.5eVDV (vibration dose value) action level and 119,000 (2.3%) above the 15eVDV exposure limit, comparing with 22% and 3.5% respectively for Great Britain. NOES reported 288,986 construction workers exposed to any WBV level. This current figure for US workers suggests an underestimate of WBV exposure in the prior studies. 

Lessons Learned: Many US SHE practitioners are unaware of WBV, the extent of which is more widespread than previously estimated. For this reason, further study with refined techniques is indicated to better define the extent of WBV exposure among US workers. More data is needed on worker activity and actual WBV measurements to provide accurate assessments, which in turn may serve as an impetus to reduce exposures. 

CS-108-05 Use of Vibration Dampening Tape for Noise Reduction

D. Westrum, 3M, Hutchinson, MN

Situation/Problem: Process equipment typically has many sources of noise and this was an attempt to address point sources of noise. Two sources of production equipment noise include the following: 1. Noise from plastic parts striking metal components. Noise is generated when rejected parts strike a metal funnel collecting the parts. Noise is also generated when plastic parts are manually dropped into a vibrating metal bowl from the initial impact as well as parts hitting the sides of the bowl during vibration cycles. 2. Guillotines chopping material.

Resolution: Vibration dampening tape is used commercially for reducing car door, airplane cabin, and washing machine noise reduction. Vibration dampening tape works by converting the vibration energy into very small amounts of heat. In this application vibration dampening tape was applied to vibrating metal in an attempt to dampen the vibrating metal and thereby reduce noise. Specifically, the tape was applied to: the exterior of the part collection funnels; the exterior of the part collection bowl; and the guillotine blade housing and the framing that supported the guillotine and cycle stops.

Results: Vibration dampening tape was used successfully to reduce the part clanking by approximately 8 dBA at one foot. The tape will be used on vibrating bowls and lastly, the effect on reducing guillotine noise was not detected.

Lessons Learned: 1. Vibration dampening tape successfully reduced the noise from plastic parts striking the sides of the metal funnel. 2. The thickness of the tape was small compared to the guillotine components. It has to be comparable to the thickness of the material you’re trying to successfully dampen the vibrations and reduce the noise. 3. The tape was used to cover as much of the funnel exterior as possible, and it may also be as effective with less coverage.

CS-108-06 Monte Carlo Simulation Implementation in Three Control Banding Tools: Assessment of Dermal Risk, The “CB Nanotool” and Heat Stroke Prevention Guide

D. Drolet, IRSST, Montreal, QC, Canada; J. Sahmel, Cardno ChemRisk, Boulder, CO; D. Zalk, LLNL, Livermore, CA; P. Dessureault, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada

Situation/Problem: Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) is a computerized mathematical technique allowing a user to account for risk in quantitative or qualitative analysis and decision-making. This technique is often used in the OSH field. Using a quantitative model described by an equation or a more qualitative model such as Control banding (CB), it allows the user to substitute a range of values - a probability distribution -for any factor that has inherent uncertainty. Running the model thousands of times produces an outcome defined by a probability distribution instead of a single “true” result.

Resolution: MCS is usually done with the help of specialized software (Crystal Ball, Pallisade …) or Excel Add-ons (Simular, Simulacion …). Using Visual Basic in Microsoft Excel, it is also possible to build MCS procedures into regular worksheets. Any deterministic model previously built in a worksheet can then be adapted into a true MCS tool. This work was done for three tools: 1- the AIHA Qualitative Assessment of Dermal Exposures, 2- The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Control Banding for Nanotechnology tool (CB Nanotool) and 3- the Heat Stroke Prevention Guide (derived from a previous EPA model) published by the Occupational Safety and Health Board in Québec.

Results: The Excel files for the three examples include a data entry sheet where the user has to enter the inputs and their corresponding uncertainties. These uncertainties are expressed in the probability of each possible answer, or a distribution of probability (normal, uniform, triangular, log-normal) for quantitative variables. The number of iterations is chosen by the user and may vary from 500 to millions and the total time of MCS routines in the three examples varies from one second to one minute. The result is displayed in the data entry sheet as a histogram of probabilities with different colors corresponding to the risk levels.

Lessons Learned: MCS allows the risk-managers to have, given the uncertainties of the inputs, a better view of all the possible outcomes. In these tools, a “sensitivity analysis” can easily be done by changing the input parameters and running again the MCS again. This feature can help the risk manager to easily and proactively identify the best ways to decrease the risk levels. In this presentation, real-time demonstration will be presented.

CS-108-07 Using an Online Solution to Evaluate and Reduce Ergonomic Risk in a Manufacturing Setting

T. Hawkinson, The Toro Company, Bloomington, MN

Situation/Problem: Evaluating and prioritizing ergonomic risk across a manufacturing assembly business is a challenge. The online system described was used to train the ergo team in recognition of ergonomic risk factors, evaluation of the risk using an online tool, provide engineering design guidance in reducing risk and then rescoring the risk of the task. Reporting tools allow tracking stages of assessment, solution identification and solution implementation with a final reassessment to demonstrate reduced risk.

Resolution: This process was implemented over two quarters in four manufacturing sites with significant ergonomic exposures and included two consulting visits to calibrate team assessment processes and conduct quality assurance on the existing evaluations. The system permits capture of photos and videos of tasks as part of the assessment process and was executed using tablet technology, with the system accessed wirelessly using a browser. The team was able to review and refine assessments using the video to define risk against research criteria for frequency, force and posture. The system permitted the sites to execute a credible, auditable, risk assessment map across the sites from a standing start in two quarters. Although not all jobs have been assessed, the recognition tool allows higher risk jobs to be assessed first. The assessment drives focus to the sites in the body at highest risk and the assessment tool identifies probable interventions needed to reduce the risk.

Results: Reports of progress in stages of assessment, including pareto charts generated using quantification methodology which delivers a single number related to the task overall risks allows addressing the most serious risks first, and allows feedback to management on progress against targeted reductions. The quantitation provided by the model behind the system allows a credible method for demonstrating risk reduction and measures program success. 

Lessons Learned: The system can be used to employ design criteria for diverse populations of workers to make the tasks built into new processes less risky for all. The design guidance documents provide richly illustrated examples of how ergonomic criteria can be incorporated into existing and future tasks. 

CS-108-08 Collecting IH Data with a FileMaker App

M. Rollins, Apps for EHS, Brooklyn, CT

Situation/Problem: Collecting IH/EHS data in the field is still largely done by juggling any combination of clipboard and pen, camera and timepiece. Whether it is using direct-reading instruments (e.g. SLM, detector tube) or samples that require lab analysis, there is a lot of duplication of effort and with data transcribing, photo transferring, etc.

Resolution: Development of custom Apps for iOS using FileMaker allows all data to be collected on one device, including pictures, calibration information and signature. Properly formatted fields include a menu choice of chemicals sampled, so no spelling errors, auto entry of time and date. The mobile data is seamlessly transferred to a server for storage, and report generation is just a click away. The appropriate App can even submit a properly-formatted laboratory submission sheet, as well as generate a report for a direct-reading instrument in situ.

Results: Data collection was easier as one device was used, and in many cases less obtrusive. As pictures were embedded in a record, it was not possible to mix up photographs.

Lessons Learned: The use of a properly designed, formatted and tested App allows information to be collected far more rapidly and accurately, with minimal chance of transcription or spelling errors. Exhaustive testing is also necessary to ensure minimal hiccups.