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Ensure your mining operations meet the highest standards of safety and compliance with SafetyIQ. Our proactive safety management is specifically configured to manage all elements of Work Health and Safety that are unique to the Mining Industry.
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Our Safety Observation solution offers real-time communication, ensuring swift action on safety concerns. It streamlines and improves employee safety, empowering safety managers to proactively mitigate risks and drive a safer work environment.
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We help Transport and Logistics companies to streamline incident reporting, real-time monitoring of drivers, enhance compliance management, and enable data-driven decision-making. Experience a safer and more efficient operation with SafetyIQ.
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How Everyday Industries Deal with Acute Exposure

According to the World Health Organization, acute exposure to hazardous substances including agrochemicals, medicines and environmental agents is a significant issue worldwide. This exposure is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.

Furthermore, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has highlighted the health impacts resulting from exposure to hazardous chemicals at work. The ILO emphasizes the need for harmonized and evidence-based Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) for all major hazardous chemicals. Essentially the ILO has stepped in with a clear message: It's time to polish our practices.

Continue reading as we delve into a comprehensive exploration of:

  • Acute exposure risks across industries
  • Management strategies in construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and mining
  • Common exposures in various sectors
  • How SafetyIQ minimizes acute exposure

What is An Acute Exposure?

Acute exposure refers to contact with a substance that occurs over a short period of time, usually less than 24 hours. It differs from chronic exposure, which happens over months or years. Acute exposure often involves a large dose of a toxic substance over a brief period.

Some key differences between acute and chronic exposure:

Industries most prone to acute substance exposure risks include construction, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and chemical/petrochemical plants. 

Workers in these fields can be exposed to high chemical doses during spills, gas leaks, or accidents. 

Acute exposure examples include:

Industries and Acute Exposure

Common Acute Exposures in Construction

There are various situations where workers can be subjected to actue exposure in the construction industry.

Dust
Construction activities like demolition and sanding produce large amounts of dust containing silica, asbestos, and wood fibers. Breathing in this dust can irritate the respiratory system and cause inflammation.

Fumes
Processes such as welding and using new paints or solvents release fumes that can pollute the air. Sudden inhalation of these fumes may lead to dizziness, headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties.

Noise
Construction sites often experience high levels of noise from machinery and tools, sometimes exceeding safe decibel limits. This can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage.

Falls
Working at heights, such as on scaffolds or roofs, significantly increases the risk of severe injury from falls, a leading cause of acute trauma in construction workers.

Electrocution
Exposure to live wires or faulty equipment can be fatal. Electrical hazards are a major cause of electrocution in the industry.

Airless Spots
Trenches and confined spaces often have low oxygen levels or contain toxic gases, increasing the risk of asphyxiation or poisoning.

Strategies and Protocols in Construction:

Strategy/ProtocolDescriptionApplication
Respiratory ProtectionUtilization of proper N95 masks or respirators to prevent acute inhalation hazards while working around dust or fumes.Construction workers wear N95 masks when handling materials that produce dust, such as concrete cutting or sanding.
Noise ReductionMaintenance of power tools and equipment to reduce noise levels. Mandating hearing protection such as earplugs in loud areas. Utilization of noise dosimetry for monitoring exposures.Construction site managers ensure that workers wear ear protection when operating loud machinery such as jackhammers or chainsaws.
Fall PreventionInstallation of guard rails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems to prevent falls. Implementation of ladder safety, aerial lift procedures, and scaffold inspections to mitigate fall hazards.Before starting work at heights, construction workers are required to inspect scaffolds and ensure proper installation of guardrails and safety nets.
Lockout/TagoutLocking and tagging out power tools and equipment before any maintenance or repair work to prevent accidental electrocutions.Before conducting maintenance on a crane, construction workers lock and tag out the power source to prevent accidental activation.
Confined Space ProceduresUtilization of atmospheric testing, ventilation, respirators, and safety monitors/retrieval equipment to control acute risks when entering confined spaces.Construction workers entering a confined space use atmospheric testing equipment to ensure safe oxygen levels before entry.
PPEMandatory use of eye, foot, hand, and head protection to prevent acute injuries from flying/falling objects and other hazards.Construction workers wear hard hats, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, and gloves while working on-site to prevent injuries from falling debris and other hazards.
Safety TrainingImplementation of comprehensive training programs, such as SafetyIQ, to educate workers on acute exposure risks and required safe work practices.New construction workers undergo safety training sessions to familiarize themselves with proper procedures for handling hazardous materials and equipment.

Common Acute Exposures in Healthcare

Healthcare workers face a variety of potential acute exposures in their daily work. Some of the most common include:

Infectious diseases 

Healthcare workers can be exposed to infectious diseases through contact with patients. Diseases like influenza, tuberculosis, and COVID-19 pose risks.

Radiation  

Imaging technology like X-rays and CT scans use ionizing radiation. Repeatedly going through acute exposure radiology over time can cause health issues.

Hazardous drugs 

Chemotherapy and other hazardous drugs, when handled improperly, can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. This can cause acute exposure symptoms like rashes, headaches, and nausea.

Disinfectants and sterilants

Chemical disinfectants and sterilization methods can expose workers to hazardous fumes and substances. Common examples include ethylene oxide, glutaraldehyde, and formaldehyde.

Anesthetic gases

Gases used for anesthesia like nitrous oxide and isoflurane can cause drowsiness and fatigue when inhaled over time.

Latex

Latex gloves and other products can cause allergic reactions and latex sensitivity through repeated exposure.

Strategies and Protocols in Healthcare

Strategy/ProtocolDescriptionApplication
Standard PrecautionsAdherence to rigorous infection control practices including hand hygiene, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and safe injection practices.Healthcare workers wash their hands thoroughly and wear gloves and gowns when interacting with patients to prevent the spread of infections.
Engineering ControlsImplementation of engineering solutions such as ventilated cabinets for hazardous drugs, proper air circulation in procedure rooms, and shielded radiation sources.Hospitals install ventilated cabinets in pharmacy areas to prevent exposure to hazardous drugs during preparation.
Administrative ControlsEstablishment of policies for rotating staff schedules, providing hazard communication training, and limiting exposure times to hazardous materials or environments.Healthcare facilities rotate staff schedules to minimize prolonged exposure to radiation in diagnostic imaging departments.
PPEProvision of masks, gloves, and gowns for infectious diseases, as well as lead aprons for protection against radiation. Specialized PPE is provided for handling hazardous drugs.Healthcare workers wear N95 masks, gloves, and gowns when treating patients with airborne infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
Medical SurveillanceImplementation of regular health monitoring programs including radiation badge readings, blood tests for anesthetic gas absorption, and lung function tests.Radiology technicians undergo regular radiation badge readings to monitor their exposure levels during diagnostic procedures.
Safety protocols Adoption of proper handling and disposal procedures for sharps, hazardous materials, and waste. Incidents of exposure are promptly reported for investigation and follow-up.Nurses dispose of used needles and syringes in puncture-resistant containers to prevent accidental needlestick injuries.
Immunization Administration of vaccines against infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and influenza to healthcare workers to protect against occupational risks.Hospital staff receive hepatitis B vaccines as part of their occupational health program to prevent transmission of the virus in the workplace.

Common Acute Exposures in Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry involves the processing of raw materials into finished goods. Workers in manufacturing can be exposed to various chemical, physical, ergonomic, and biological hazards.

Some of the most common acute exposures in manufacturing include:

Chemical Exposures
Workers often encounter toxic fumes, vapors, mists, or dust from chemicals and solvents, causing irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. These acute exposures typically occur during chemical mixing, spraying, or direct handling.

Noise Exposures
Loud noise from heavy machinery and power tools, particularly in metal fabrication, automotive, and aerospace sectors, can cause hearing damage.

Ergonomic Hazards
Repetitive motions, awkward postures, and heavy lifting can lead to acute musculoskeletal injuries such as strains, sprains, and muscle pulls.

Trauma Injury
Manufacturing environments pose risks of cuts, lacerations, crush injuries, and amputations, often from unguarded equipment or during maintenance involving robotic machines.

Biological Exposures
Certain manufacturing settings are prone to biological contaminants like bacteria, molds, and endotoxins, which can cause acute illnesses.

Strategies and Protocols in Manufacturing

Strategy/ProtocolDescriptionApplication 
Substitution/EliminationReplace or remove hazardous chemicals/materials to reduce exposure risks.Switching from solvent-based to water-based cleaning solutions to eliminate harmful chemicals.
Ventilation SystemsUse proper ventilation and exhaust hoods in chemical handling areas to control airborne contaminants.Installing local exhaust ventilation systems in chemical processing areas.
Noise ControlsEmploy sound enclosures, vibration dampeners, and hearing protection to reduce noise levels and prevent hearing loss.Providing workers with earmuffs or earplugs in noisy environments.
Ergonomic Design/ControlsDesign ergonomic equipment and implement administrative controls to minimize musculoskeletal injuries from repetitive tasks.Designing assembly line workstations with adjustable features to reduce strain.
Machine GuardingInstall machine guards, follow lockout/tagout procedures, and provide personal protective equipment to prevent injuries.Fitting conveyor belts with guards and implementing lockout/tagout during maintenance.
Sanitation/SterilizationUse sanitation and sterilization procedures when handling biological agents to prevent contamination and ensure worker safety.Following strict sanitation protocols and wearing appropriate PPE when working with infectious agents.
Emergency ResponseProvide emergency eyewash stations, drench showers, and first aid supplies for prompt treatment in case of chemical exposure incidents.Installing emergency eyewash stations and showers in chemical storage areas.
Training ProgramsImplement comprehensive training programs to educate workers about hazards, safe practices, and emergency procedures.Conducting safety orientation sessions for new employees and regular refresher training for all workers.

Common Acute Exposures in Mining

The mining industry plays host to a variety of acute potential exposures that may affect the health and safety of workers. 

Dust
Silica, coal asbestos, and other harmful components form dust during mining activities like drilling and blasting, potentially causing severe respiratory issues.

Toxic Gases
Mining can release dangerous gases like methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide, especially from blasting and diesel equipment, posing serious health risks.

Noise
The operation of heavy machinery and use of explosives in mining generate high noise levels, which can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Vibration
Operating drills, crushers, and vehicles in mining can produce intense vibrations, potentially causing hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Chemical Hazards
Exposure to hydrocarbon fluids, acids, and other chemicals during extraction processes can irritate the eyes, trigger allergies, and cause burns.

Fall and Impact Hazards
Mining environments are prone to ground collapses, falling objects, and vehicle crashes, all of which can cause blunt force trauma.

Electrical Shock
Contact with electrical tools and high-voltage lines in mines can lead to electric shock injuries.

Heat Stress
Working in the hot, humid conditions underground in mines can increase the risk of heat-related health issues.

Strategies and Protocols in Mining

To manage acute exposures, the mining industry employs various control strategies and safety protocols including:

  • Ventilation systems to dilute and remove airborne contaminants
  • Water sprays and scrubbers to suppress dust
  • Rotating workers in high-noise areas to limit exposure times
  • Proper machine maintenance and anti-vibration gloves to reduce vibration
  • Substitution of hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives
  • Protective equipment like respirators, hearing protection, safety harnesses
  • Training on safe handling of chemicals and machinery
  • Regular hazard monitoring and health screening of workers
  • Implementation of exposure limits and controls through regulations
  • Use of remote and automated technologies to remove workers from hazards
  • Establishing emergency response plans for events like gas leaks or explosions
  • Safety inspections, risk assessments, and incident investigation procedures

Role of SafetyIQ in Building a Safety Culture by Minimizing Acute Exposure

SafetyIQ is a workplace safety software that fosters a safety culture and minimizes exposure to work-related hazards. Here’s how it works:

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: 

SafetyIQ aids in identifying potential hazards, enabling safety managers to conduct thorough analyses to assess the likelihood and severity of potential incidents. This allows organizations to proactively identify and evaluate risks, paving the way for preventive measures and reducing the likelihood of risks.

Training and Education: 

SafetyIQ supports employers in developing comprehensive training programs tailored to specific job roles and safety concerns. The platform’s Training Tracking solution simplifies the complexities of safety training scheduling. Employers can build out training curriculums by site, role, or project and rely on automated training reminders and renewals.

This ensures that workers are effectively trained in key areas such as hazard recognition, safe work practices, and emergency response procedures.

Incident Reporting and Management: 

SafetyIQ simplifies the incident reporting process as employees immediately report any potential risks and close calls. Through the recording and monitoring of real-world cases, organizations can extract trends and root causes. They can use them as a basis for preventing future events and decreasing amounts of acutely exposed incidents.

Compliance Management:

The software application helps with compliance regulations and standards by centralizing compliance documents and creating automated tasks. Regulations have set up guidelines for organizations to stay compliant, and by doing so, the risk of acute exposure to legal penalties and fines that come along with non-compliance can be controlled.

Continuous Improvement: 

The software fosters a culture of continuous improvement within organizations through metrics, data analysis, and identification of areas for enhancement. Through continuous review of and adoption of improved safety processes, organizations can be prepared and act preventively to avoid anticipated exposure to hazards in the workplace.

Thus, SafetyIQ fosters a safety-centric culture, empowering employees to identify risks and prevent accidents. With its robust protection features, it transforms workplace safety into a proactive, dynamic practice.

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