Workplace Monitoring – What’s it all About?

Workplace Monitoring – What’s it all About?

13th October 2016

Last week we took a detailed look at the difference between health and safety and revealed that while safety failings are usually blatantly obvious and their effects can be measured instantly (the results are usually injuries or even deaths), health failings and their effects are much more difficult to identify.  This is because health failings have an ‘invisible’ effect, despite the fact that the exposure to hazardous substances in construction activities result in more than 3,000 fatalities every year.  Construction dusts (one of the major hidden risks in the industry) can lead to work related illnesses that could be avoided with the use of the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).  This is where monitoring the workplace comes into play – it makes it much easier to demonstrate any improvements in employee welfare.  Regular workplace monitoring is the most effective way to combat hidden killers (such as asbestos and ACMs) and protect the workforce from the debilitating effects which may not show up for many years.

When it comes to workplace monitoring, it’s vital that employees take ownership of the monitoring solutions that are provided to them and use them in order to ensure their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues.  Correctly trained health and safety professionals should be responsible for managing a monitoring programme and they will be able to advise on any actions that need to be taken to reduce risks and improve general employee health and wellbeing.

When it comes to monitoring there are two main areas to be covered – dust monitoring and noise monitoring.

Dust monitoring solutions include personal sampling pumps to monitor individual employees’ personal exposure to dust and real time dust monitors to assess the occupational risks during a survey.  Wider area and site monitoring systems are also recommended to check the area to ensure compliance within regulatory limits.

Noise monitoring solution recommendations will depend on the risk and requirements.  Noise dosimeters will monitor personal exposure and sound level meters can be used during surveys or area monitoring to check workface regulations.  Environmental noise measurements should be taken over short, medium and long periods.  With more than 11 million people here in the UK suffering some form of hearing loss, the introduction of the  Control of Noise at Work Regulations in 2006 means that employers now have a responsibility to protect their staff from hearing loss.

Monitoring activities should be carried out in a way that does not affect the comfort of productivity of a worker.  New technology has provided employers with solutions that allow full remote monitoring which mean that the individual conducting the monitoring does not need to phys8ically follow workers throughout the day.  Instead, the data is downloaded and analysed away from the workface, whether that be a confined space or an abnormal working environment and the worker does not need to be disturbed at all in order to undertake this monitoring.

Health and safety professionals now have the necessary technology to remotely start, pause or stop a measurement run with real-time status updates delivered at the touch of a button.