Occupational health traditionally focused on occupational disease prevention. Over time, however, it has shifted to promotion of work productivity. The health, safety and well-being of working people are seen as pre-requisites for improvements in quality and producitivity. On the other hand, occupational medicine is an established branch of medical specialty founded by Bernardino Ramazzini who published an influential book called “Diseases of Worker”. It provides a link and removes the gap between medical knowledge and occupational demands. Occupational medicine specialists work closely with other OHS practitioners as a team.
Dr Ikhwan Muhammad of University of Adelaide shared his experience of visiting Intercast and Forge Pty. Ltd. Dr Muhammad’s presentation is aimed at providing a picture about the role of OHS practitioners in controlling risk of hazards of works and, ultimately, providing a safe and healthy work environment.
Intercast and Forge Pty. Ltd. is a ferrous foundry company located in the suburb of South Australia that produces iron castings for construction, automotive, and railway industry. The company operates 3 moulding machines on site, which are able to produce 300 moulder per hour, each contains 30 parts. They apply ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and TS 16949.
Founding is a process of metal casting, where scrap metals are melted and molded into shaped castings. In general, the founding process can be divided into four steps: 1.) moulding and pattern making, 2.) coremaking, 3.) melting and pouring, 4.) shakeout, and 5.) dressing and cleaning.
It is known that, during its process, foundry works expose foundry workers to numerous health hazards, some of them ranging from noise, heat, to manual tasks. Due to its dangerous nature, foundry works receive constant attention from Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) practitioners.
Dr Ikhwan Muhammad’s duties during the visit were to determine the type of health hazard on site and to assess the level of risk. Finally, based the result of the assessment, Dr Muhammad was asked to provide a recommendation for improvement.
The assessment includes hazard identification. Hazard is a situation or thing that has potential to harm a person. Types of hazard include ergonomic hazard (eg manual hazards) and mechanical hazard (eg moving vehicle), chemical hazard (silica dust, metal fumes), physical hazards (eg noise, heat).
The second step is the risk assessment. Risk means the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard. Several points to assess are mechanism, severity, likelihood and the current control system.
Dr Muhammad highlighted the importance of improving both workers and employers’ awareness of occupational health and safety.
*Dr Ikhwan Muhammad presented at the PPIA University of Adelaide-GoLive Indonesia academic discussion series on 26 September 2013. He is completing his Master of Occupational Health and Safety Management at the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Population Health, the University of Adelaide and managing a blog called Konsultasik3.