Operational hygiene constitutes a true branch of engineering, which is why it is also called Hygienic Engineering. The objective is centered on eliminating the reduction of the degree of contamination existing in the work environment to the reference values provided by theoretical hygiene, using engineering knowledge for this. Operational hygiene, to achieve the elimination of hygienic risk, must act on the different factors that intervene in the process:
In order to prevent the formation of the pollutant or if it is generated, prevent its passage into the atmosphere of the workplace, it is possible to:
Replace the agent with another that is not dangerous or at least that is not so dangerous; This is the case of carcinogens or sensitizers since the other actions can reduce the concentration of the pollutant but do not eliminate its presence and therefore its effects, difficult to control, remain; Furthermore, any failure to control the agent could lead to the release of the harmful agent, resulting in serious consequences.
In the design phase of the installation, health problems must already be taken into account, choosing equipment designed to avoid exposure to any of the agents that may be harmful. This is especially important in the case of noise and vibrations since the subsequent fix is often economically impossible.
Modify the process, for example by automating to make the presence of the worker unnecessary during its operation or to use products in another state (for example, instead of a gas, use a solution that contains it).
Enclosure can also be carried out by encapsulating the process by means of closed reactors, enclosing the point of operation of the machine that generates the noise or the source of radiation. Isolation in a separate building can be very useful as it reduces the number of workers affected.
Local extraction is a way of eliminating the chemical agent from the environment at the moment it is generated.
Preventive maintenance of work equipment is another complementary technique that can prevent accidental exposures to chemical contaminants.
In order to prevent the pollutant already generated from spreading through the atmosphere and reaching dangerous levels for the operators close to the job, it is possible to influence:
Cleanliness is a key element, since its lack translates into secondary sources of contamination. It is essential to clean floors, walls, machinery and all places where dirt can be deposited.
Dilution or general ventilation is a good tactic that can sometimes be used with mildly harmful pollutants, as long as excessive amounts of air that need to be heated are not exchanged (due to its economic cost).
Increasing the distance between the contaminant source and the receiver and the alarm systems are a complement to the previous measures.
Protecting the operator so that the pollutant does not enter his body.
One way to reduce risk is to reduce exposure time by rotating staff.
The closure of the worker is the inverse of the closure of the process. It requires a careful study and the relationship needs of the human being with the rest of his companions must be taken into account.
Personal protective equipment is the last resort and should be taken as a provisional measure while other solutions are being discussed; however, they are essential in certain circumstances.
Finally, the information and training of the worker must constitute the first link in the preventive action that we initiate.
As we can easily deduce, the most effective measures
From the point of view of hygiene, they are those that act on the emission source of the pollutant Figure 6-2, acting on the diffuser medium when elimination in the source has not been possible and finally, only on exposed workers when not It has been possible to act on the previous stages or as a complementary measure to others adopted.
Occupational Safety, Health and Hygiene.