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March 22, 2019

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High-risk jobs

Unexpected high-risk jobs and how to limit potential harm

Contrary to popular belief, there are occupations that are seemingly harmless but may potentially be hazardous in a variety of different ways. When exploring an occupation of interest, you should always keep in mind the dangers you may face, regardless of how safe an environment may seem, as Emily Liptak explains.

Emily Liptak

Emily Liptak, health advocate and Communications Specialist at Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

According to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2018, there were a reported 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and injury. When we think about occupational safety, jobs that come to mind that are high-risk are often in fields such as industrial manufacturing, mining, and waste management

Jewelry makers and asbestos exposure

The jewelry trade is one that is perceived as luxury and takes precision to become reputable within the space. While this holds true, the process of making jewelry is often behind the scenes and many don’t know how exactly jewelers go about their everyday craft. Due to the heat-resistant and durable qualities of asbestos, it has become a useful mineral during the soldering process of jewelry creation. Whether it’s mats that contain asbestos to resist heat from blow torches, using asbestos to hold components in place for soldering, or wearing gloves that contain asbestos for this activity, the potential for exposure to asbestos fibers is heightened, especially for those who continue to use asbestos in this way.

Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer, a disease that primarily affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Asbestos fibers may become lodged within the linings of these internal organs and lead to scarring and inflammation, which ultimately causes the development of tumors. This form of cancer is very difficult to treat and the average life expectancy of someone who is diagnosed with mesothelioma is one to two years.

Asbestos received an outright ban in the UK in 1999, ending the importation, supply, and usage of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). However, this doesn’t take into account the “legacy” issues that arise with this dangerous carcinogen, as there are many past usages that still linger to this day. Whether it’s ACMs that were used to construct homes and buildings, or minor usages such as that of a jeweler, the risk of exposure remains. If you’re planning on becoming a jeweler or working under a jeweler who uses asbestos, it’s required under the Control of Asbestos Regulations of 2012 that employers provide training to their employees that adequately informs them about handling asbestos.

Mild steel welding fume reclassified as a human carcinogen

Civil engineers and construction sites

Civil engineers are in charge of planning and designing certain projects relating to infrastructure such as roads, railways, pipelines, and power-plants. Mapping out these projects requires these engineers to be on-site in order to gain insight as to how exactly the project will be planned and executed. This has unfortunately led to major risks such as being hit by heavy machinery, electrocution as a result of “live” wires when performing inspections, and injuries from falling off ladders or through the collapsing of an excavation. Another risk that civil engineers face is noxious dust that may contain lead or asbestos that is released during the demolition process of a project.

It’s important for civil engineers to be extremely cautious when on a job site, as there are many ways in which they can be harmed, as with any construction worker. The correct PPE, to protect against toxins and debris, should be worn at all times and processes should be implemented to ensure proper protocol for having these engineers inspect a project. If an accident does occur, an incident report should be filed, as this is an important step in keeping all workers safe in the immediate and near future of a project.

PPE: Complete guide to Personal Protective Equipment

Farmers and the land

Farming has been a long standing tradition for many families, and has been an industry for thousands of years. Although it may seem like a job that has limited risks, it is actually one of the most dangerous jobs in the UK. The daily tasks of a farmer vary, and the dangers involved can be abundant. Farming can be extremely high risk, and the bigger the farm the increased likelihood for hazards and injuries on the job.

Although farming is a small percentage of the professional field in the UK, it accounts for 19% of fatal injuries that happen throughout the year. Because there are so many duties that fall upon the responsibility of a farmer, there are a number of situations that need to be observed and implemented in a safe manner. The most common on the job accidents include falls from heights, accidents due to machinery, and lifting, and the use of hazardous objects.

There are many factors that go into ensuring the safety of farmers, and those that work alongside them. A critical step is to regularly inspect all vehicles, machinery, and buildings. Keep equipment clean, which in the long run will help to ensure they are functioning properly and less likely to malfunction. Keep work areas clean, put tools away, and provide overall support for those working in the area which may include safety ladders, handrails, slip proof floors, and proper apparel when working in varied elements. Taking these precautions are the first step in ensuring the job can be done both efficiently, and safely.

Research before you pursue

Before thinking about entering an occupation, you should research what dangers may exist. While many jobs have limited risks involved, there are some that have unexpected dangers that could seriously impact your well-being. Find someone who works in the field you would like to apply to and ask them about their first-hand experiences and anything they have seen on the job that has been hazardous. The more informed you are about an occupation, the better off you will be when it comes time to perform the task at hand.

Sleep and Fatigue: Director’s Briefing

Fatigue is common amongst the population, but particularly among those working abnormal hours, and can arise from excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, in that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.

This free director’s briefing contains:

  • Key points;
  • Recommendations for employers;
  • Case law;
  • Legal duties.
Barbour EHS

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