SAFETY AT WORK PLACE

Good policy of health protection and safety at work are expression of awareness on human person centrality, its needs at work. FISMECO is able to support the Employer in promoting all actions for well-being  of working people. In particular, FISMECO offers its expertise to comply with the provisions of Legislative Decree no. 81/08 on safety in the workplace.

The Company participates on behalf of the employer to all activities (inspections, and personnel audit) aimed to the identification, evaluation and control of hazards with the drafting of related documents (DVR and IRAD) and in case Fismeco also indentify and evaluate the appropriate personal protective equipment.

 

PHYSICAL AGENTS ASSESSMENT

1. Noise

With the approval of the Legislative Decree 81/2008 and subsequent amendments and additions, Italy has confirmed the European approach to risk prevention and safety introduced since DLgs.277 / 1991 and based on risk assessment.

The ART.190 the D.Lgs.81 / 2008 requires the employer to carry out a noise assessment in his  company in order to identify  noise risks and implementing appropriate and related actions.

The risk assessment must be performed by qualified personnel, regardless of the productive sector, where are present employed people or equivalent to them; in cases where it can not be excluded that exceeding the action lower values (LEX> 80 dB (A) or Lpeak, C > 135 dB (C)) the assessment must also consider measurements made in accordance with appropriate technical standards (UNI EN ISO 9612: 2011 and UNI 9432: 2011).

For situations where it is clear that exposure to noise is negligible, it is possible the use of the so-called “justification” a sort of declaration proving that it is not necessary to proceed with the assessment. In some “uncertain”cases, it is sufficient perform some measurements just focused to exclude the exceedance of lower action values even for the workers probably more exposed to the risk.

The measurement assessment can be considered complete if:

  • It defines the LEX and Lpeak, C of those exposed to over 80 dB (A) and 135 dB (C);
  • it identifies boost factors of risk (ex .: ototoxic, vibration, impulsive noise …), as identified dall’art.190, paragraph 1;
  • it identifies areas and high risk machines (LAeq> 85 dB (A) and LCpicco> 137 dB (C));
  • it defines the technical and organizational measures of risk containment (the PARE, as reported in UNI / TR 11347: 2010); it evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of PPE-hearing provided for the workers.

Noise assessment should be reported into the more general  document for risk assessment.

Particular cases of risk assessment are those aimed to prepare the PSC (the Safety and Coordination Plan, preliminarily prepared and ready before  starting all activities in temporary and mobile working sites), and the creation of DUVRI (Single Document for Evaluation of shared risks) also this document must be prepared  before starting all activities in all cases where in the contract the PSC is not recalled.

 

2. Vibration

Legislative Decree 81 of 9 April 2008 Chapter III Title VIII provides the definition of vibrations transmitted to the whole body:

  • “The mechanical vibration that, when transmitted to the whole body, entails risks to the health and safety of workers, in particular lower-back diseases and trauma of the spine.”
  • It is known that different work activities on board of transportation vehicles or handling heavy objects, expose the body to vibration or impact (in general mechanical stress) which may be harmful to the exposed persons.

 

3. Artificial Optical Radiation

Artificial Optical Radiations are all those electromagnetic radiations included in a range of wavelength from 100 nm up to 1mm. The spectrum of optical radiations is diveded into Ultraviolet Radiations, Visible Radiations and Infrared Radiations. These optical radiations, for “safety/protections” purposes, are in turn divided into:

  • Ultraviolet radiations : optical radiations of wavelength included from 100 up to 400 nm. The ultraviolet band is divided in UVA (315-400 nm), UVB (280-315 nm) e UVC (100-280 nm);
  • Visible radiations: optical radiations of wavelength included from 380 up to 780 nm;
  • Infrared radiations: optcial radiations of wavelength included from 780 nm up to 1 mm. The infrared area is divided into IRA (780-1400 nm), IRB (1400-3000 nm) and IRC (3000 nm-1 – 1 mm).

 

4. Natural Optical Radiation

The most authoritative international organizations (ICNIRP, ILO, WHO) and national (ISS, Health  Superior Institute) responsible for the protection of health and safety and epidemiological studies, internationally agree in considering that the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is a risk of professional nature for all workers operating outdoors as listed in tables 1 and 2, to evaluate and prevent the same way as all other risks (chemical, physical, biological) in the workplace.

Particularly for these workers many photoinduced pathologies have been identified and characterized since a long time, whose target organs are the skin and eyes. The main photo-induced pathology is definitely skin cancer.

5. Laser

The laser is a device allowing the generation of monochromatic optical radiation, ie constituted by a single wavelength, extremely directional and high intensity. Such features are not generally obtainable by using of incoherent light sources (eg. Incandescent lamps, LEDs, gas discharge or arc).

Although different in their proper technologies, all lasers are based on the same physical principle: the coherent light intensity amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (in English Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, from which the acronym LASER) and they typically consist of an active material, whose physical properties determine the wavelength of the laser radiation, enclosed in a cylindrical container whose bases are two flat mirrors.

There is currently a great variety of laser sources (solid state, gas, organic dyes, excimer) covering a range of wavelengths that includes the visible infrared and ultraviolet radiation. Next to the laser in continuous wave (CW), there are lasers releasing high intensity and short duration pulses (also well below the picosecond).

 

6. Elettromagnetic Fields

The term Non-Ionizing Radiation, synthetically NIR from the initials of the homologous English definition Non-Ionizing Radiation, generally means that part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum whose primary product of interaction with matter is not ionization. The electromagnetic spectrum is in fact traditionally divided into a ionizing section (Ionizing Radiation, or IR), including X and gamma rays which have enough energy to directly ionize atoms and molecules, and in a non-ionizing (NIR). The latter is in turn divided, as a function of frequency, into an optical section (300 GHz – 3x104 THz) and in a non-optical (0 Hz – 300 GHz).

The first one includes ultraviolet radiation, visible light and infrared radiation.

The second one, discussed in this section, includes the microwave (MW: microwave), radio frequency (RF) electric and magnetic fields at extremely low frequency (ELF), up to the static electric and magnetic fields.

The ascertained interaction mechanisms of the electromagnetic fields (EMF) with the biological tissues generally fall into two basic effects: induction of currents in the electrically stimulable tissue, and deposition of energy with increase of tissue temperature. Such effects are defined direct effects as a result of direct interaction of fields with the human body. At lower frequencies and up to about 1 MHz, the induction of electric currents prevails in the electrically stimulable tissue, such as nerves and muscles. With the increase of the frequency becomes more and more significant the energy transfer in the tissues through the rapid oscillatory movement of ions and water molecules, with the development of heat and consequent temperature raising. At frequencies above about 10 MHz, the latter effect is the only one remaining, and above 10 GHz, the absorption is mainly confined on the skin. Such mechanisms are able to determine acute effects, that are prevalent above a certain induction threshold, in support of these effects there is a large scientific knowledge that allows a definition of the exposure limit values with the introduction of a suitable safety gap between them and the effective hazard thresholds.

In addition to direct effects, there are also indirect effects. There are two indirect coupling mechanisms for exposed subjects: contact currents, which occur when the human body comes into contact with an object at a different electric potential and can cause effects such as painful perceptions, muscle twitching, burns; coupling of EMF with medical devices (including cardiac pacemakers) and other implanted devices inside the exposed subject. Other indirect risks arise from presence of ferromagnetic objects in intense static magnetic fields due to their possible propulsive attraction; in triggering electro-detonators and the fire risk related to combustible materials due to possible sparks caused by the presence of EMFs in the environment (DLgs.81/2008, Art. 209, paragraph 4, letter d).

Major international protection bodies have developed a EMF protection system well founded. The most authoritative reference is provided by the documents of the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Regarding  the time-varying fields, ICNIRP published in 1998 guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields with frequencies up to 300 GHz. In 2010 he published the new guidelines for variable fields between 1 Hz and 100 kHz and contextually confirmed with a statement, the validity of the 1998 guidelines content for radio frequency and microwave (frequency greater than 100 kHz). Also relevant are the guidelines, issued in 2009, for the limitation of exposure to static magnetic fields updating those previously published in 1994.The phylosophy followed in all the documents is to first define the “dosimetric” physical quantities related to the interaction between fields and biological systems, in the two different previously described direct basic mechanisms.

In the case of thermal effects, this basic physical quantity is made by the amount of energy absorbed by the tissues per unit of mass and time, ie the specific absorption rate (Specific Absorbtion Rate, SAR), expressed in

watts•kilogram-1 (W / kg).

With regards to the induction of currents, in the guidelines of 1998, the physical quantity was represented by the magnitude of induced current density, J, it was defined for the protection of the Central Nervous System (CNS) in the head and trunk and expressed in amperes / metro2 (A / m2), i.e. the amount of current flowing through a unit cross section of tissue. The new guidelines of 2010 have introduced a new dosimetric magnitude, the electric field induced in situ, Ei, expressed in volts / m, which is considered more representative of the effects as direct supervisor of the electrical stimulation mechanism at the cellular level.

In practice the main variables are however not directly measurable in exposed subjects. To check compliance with the basic restrictions it is necessary to consider the values of their physical quantities of electromagnetic fields, directly measurable in the environment. These physical quantities are represented by the intensity of the electric and magnetic fields. To the significant frequencies for the thermal effects (above 10 MHz) it can also be employed the power density, expressed in W / m2. According to theoretical models of bioelectromagnetic interaction subsequently validated by experimental analysis, these quantities are calculated in conditions of maximum coupling between fields and the exposed body, the so-called reference levels for measurable quantities, which ensure in all circumstances the respect exposure of the basic limits for SAR and for the electric field in situ. The reference levels are different for occupationally exposed workers and the population, being applied to the latter more cautionary factors.

The ICNIRP guidelines are considered as a scientific and technical reference by Directive 2004/40/EC which states the minimum requirements for the protection of workers against exposure to electromagnetic fields in the frequency range between 0 Hz and 300 GHz. The Directive 2004/40 /EC is in fact divided into the exposure limit values and action values, whose numerical values are identical, respectively, to basic restrictions and reference levels recommended by ICNIRP in the 1998 guidelines.

At the national level, the legislative framework for occupational safety is the Legislative Decree 81 of 9 April 2008 “Consolidated Act on Health and Safety at Work”. The specific provisions on the protection of workers against exposure to electromagnetic fields are contained in Chapter IV of Title VIII – Physical agents – and are derived from the implementation of Directive 2004/40/EC initially set for April 30, 2008, and subsequently postponed by Directives 2008/46/EC and 2012/11 /EC.

In June 26, 2013 it was approved the new DIRECTIVE 2013/35 / EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) which repealed Directive 2004/40/EC with effect from 29 June 2013. the Member States will have to comply with the directive by 1 July 2016.

Pending appropriate redrafting of Chapter IV of Title VIII D.lgvo 81/08, for the implementation of the new Directive, it remains valid general principle referred to art.28 of D.lgvo 81/2008, reiterated relatively to the physical agents at art.181, which obliges the employer to evaluate all health and safety risks, including those arising from exposure to electromagnetic fields, and the implementation of appropriate measures of protection, as from 1 January 2009 (art. 306).

In this context, this session of the portal and data contained in the EMF database, as susceptible of improvement and additions in the light of the new Directive, however, represent a valid reference for the purpose of the risk assessment provided by artt.28 and 181 of Legislative Decree. 81/2008. These measures are specifically aimed at the protection from certain effects (acute effects) of direct and indirect type, that have an impact in terms of health ( “health risks and safety of workers due to the short-term adverse effects in the human body caused by the circulation of induced currents and by energy absorption and by contact currents “, DLgs.81 / 2008, art. 206 paragraph 1).

Consistent with the aims of the European Directive, Chapter IV of D.Lgs.81/2008 does not concern the protection from possible long-term effects, for which there is no conclusive scientific evidence establishing a causal relationship, nor the associated risk to the contact with voltage powered conductors (art. 206, paragraph 2) the latter already covered by the electrical safety standards.

Note that most of the adverse effects considered in DLgs.81/2008 appear immediately (eg. Arrhythmias, muscle twitching, burns, pacemakers and implanted electronic devices etc.), but some, such as cataracts or male infertility, being the consequence of a cumulative mechanism, can occur at a distance of time.

FISMECO srl
Via Giuseppe Donati, 32
00159 Roma

Telephone: +39 06 4394382 / +39 06 98266758
FAX: +39 06 98266748
E-mail: segreteria@fismeco.it

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