94. Education and Training Services
Chapter Editor: Michael McCann
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95. Emergency and Security Services
Chapter Editor: Tee L. Guidotti
Table of Contents
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96. Entertainment and the Arts
Chapter Editor: Michael McCann
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1. Precautions associated with hazards
2. Hazards of art techniques
3. Hazards of common stones
4. Main risks associated with sculpture material
5. Description of fibre & textile crafts
6. Description of fibre & textile processes
7. Ingredients of ceramic bodies & glazes
8. Hazards & precautions of collection management
9. Hazards of collection objects
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97. Health Care Facilities and Services
Chapter Editor: Annelee Yassi
Table of Contents
Health Care: Its Nature and Its Occupational Health Problems
Annalee Yassi and Leon J. Warshaw
Home Care Workers: The New York City Experience
Occupational Health and Safety Practice: The Russian Experience
Valery P. Kaptsov and Lyudmila P. Korotich
Ergonomics and Health Care
Hospital Ergonomics: A Review
Madeleine R. Estryn-Béhar
Strain in Health Care Work
Madeleine R. Estryn-Béhar
Work Schedules and Night Work in Health Care
Madeleine R. Estryn-Béhar
The Physical Environment and Health Care
Exposure to Physical Agents
Robert M. Lewy
Ergonomics of the Physical Work Environment
Madeleine R. Estryn-Béhar
Prevention and Management of Back Pain in Nurses
Case Study: Treatment of Back Pain
Leon J. Warshaw
Health Care Workers and Infectious Disease
Overview of Infectious Diseases
Prevention of Occupational Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens
Linda S. Martin, Robert J. Mullan and David M. Bell
Tuberculosis Prevention, Control and Surveillance
Robert J. Mullan
Chemicals in the Health Care Environment
Overview of Chemical Hazards in Health Care
Jeanne Mager Stellman
Managing Chemical Hazards in Hospitals
Waste Anaesthetic Gases
Xavier Guardino Solá
Health Care Workers and Latex Allergy
Leon J. Warshaw
The Hospital Environment
Buildings for Health Care Facilities
Cesare Catananti, Gianfranco Damiani and Giovanni Capelli
Hospital Waste Management
Managing Hazardous Waste Disposal Under ISO 14000
Jerry Spiegel and John Reimer
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1. Examples of health care functions
2. 1995 integrated sound levels
3. Ergonomic noise reduction options
4. Total number of injuries (one hospital)
5. Distribution of nurses’ time
6. Number of separate nursing tasks
7. Distribution of nurses' time
8. Cognitive & affective strain & burn-out
9. Prevalence of work complaints by shift
10. Congenital abnormalities following rubella
11. Indications for vaccinations
12. Post-exposure prophylaxis
13. US Public Health Service recommendations
14. Chemicals’ categories used in health care
15. Chemicals cited HSDB
16. Properties of inhaled anaesthetics
17. Choice of materials: criteria & variables
18. Ventilation requirements
19. Infectious diseases & Group III wastes
20. HSC EMS documentation hierarchy
21. Role & responsibilities
22. Process inputs
23. List of activities
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The Nature of Office and Clerical Work
Charles Levenstein, Beth Rosenberg and Ninica Howard
Professionals and Managers
Offices: A Hazard Summary
Bank Teller Safety: The Situation in Germany
The Retail Industry
Case Study: Outdoor Markets
John G. Rodwan, Jr.
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Indoor Cleaning Services
Barbering and Cosmetology
Laura Stock and James Cone
Laundries, Garment and Dry Cleaning
Gary S. Earnest, Lynda M. Ewers and Avima M. Ruder
Mary O. Brophy and Jonathan T. Haney
Case Study: Environmental Issues
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101. Public and Government Services
Chapter Editor: David LeGrande
Case Report: Violence and Urban Park Rangers in Ireland
Hazards in Sewage (Waste) Treatment Plants
Mary O. Brophy
Domestic Waste Collection
J.C. Gunther, Jr.
Municipal Recycling Industry
David E. Malter
Waste Disposal Operations
James W. Platner
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102. Transport Industry and Warehousing
Chapter Editor: LaMont Byrd
Airport and Flight Control Operations
Christine Proctor, Edward A. Olmsted and E. Evrard
Case Studies of Air Traffic Controllers in the United States and Italy
Paul A. Landsbergis
Aircraft Maintenance Operations
Aircraft Flight Operations
Nancy Garcia and H. Gartmann
Aerospace Medicine: Effects of Gravity, Acceleration and Microgravity in the Aerospace Environment
Relford Patterson and Russell B. Rayman
David L. Huntzinger
Truck and Bus Driving
Bruce A. Millies
Ergonomics of Bus Driving
Alfons Grösbrink and Andreas Mahr
Motor Vehicle Fuelling and Servicing Operations
Richard S. Kraus
Case Study: Violence in Gasoline Stations
Leon J. Warshaw
Case Study: Subways
George J. McDonald
Water Transportation and the Maritime Industries
Timothy J. Ungs and Michael Adess
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1. Bus driver seat measurements
2. Illumination levels for service stations
3. Hazardous conditions & administration
4. Hazardous conditions & maintenance
5. Hazardous conditions & right of way
6. Hazard control in the Railway industry
7. Merchant vessel types
8. Health hazards common across vessel types
9. Notable hazards for specific vessel types
10. Vessel hazard control & risk-reduction
11. Typical approximate combustion properties
12. Comparison of compressed & liquified gas
13. Hazards involving order selectors
14. Job safety analysis: Fork-lift operator
15. Job safety analysis: Order selector
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Gasoline station workers rank fourth among US occupations with the highest rates of occupational homicides, with almost all occurring during attempted armed robberies or other crimes (NIOSH 1993b). The recent trend to replace repair shops with convenience stores has made them even more of a target. Study of the circumstances involved has led to the delineation of the following risk factors for such criminal violence:
An additional risk factor is being in locations that are readily accessible and particularly suited to quick getaways.
To defend themselves against attempted robberies, some gasoline station workers have provided themselves with baseball bats or other cudgels and even acquired firearms. Most police authorities oppose such measures, arguing that they are likely to provoke violent reactions on the part of the criminals. The following preventive measures are suggested as more effective deterrents of robbery attempts:
Consultation with local police authorities and crime-prevention experts will assist in the selection of the most appropriate and cost-effective deterrents. It must be remembered that the equipment should be properly installed and periodically tested and maintained, and that the workers must be trained in its use.
Growing security needs as a result of generally rising criminal activity, the opening of the borders to the East and within the European Union, as well as the accession of the former German Democratic Republic, have led to a disproportionate growth in the number of commercial guard and security companies as well as the number of employees of these companies in Germany.
At the start of 1995 the number of employees in the more than 1,200 guard and security companies stood at over 155,000. The mid-sized companies have mostly 20 to 200 employees. There are also companies, however, with fewer than 10 employees and others with several thousand. Company mergers are increasingly common.
The Administration Trade Organization is responsible for legal accident insurance for these companies and their employees.
Accident Prevention Regulations
Background of the accident prevention regulations and their scope of application
With the rising occurrence of accidents, the “Guard and Security Services” (VBG 68) Accident Prevention Regulation that had been in force since May 1964 in guard and security work became outdated. It has therefore been reworked and completely redrafted, with the participation of representatives of the affected employers, employees, accident insurance companies, manufacturers’ and trade organizations as well as representatives of the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Questions, the state industrial oversight authorities, the Federal Minister of Defence, the Federal Crime Office, the state police authorities, other institutions and a specialized committee. This committee is an organ of the central office of the Safety and Health Trade Organization of the industrial trade organizations, under the responsibility of the Administration Trade Organization.
The newly drafted accident regulation went into effect 1 October 1990, after several years of consultations. The regulation is the legal standard for all employers and employees in guard and security companies. It lays out duties and lines of authority upon which newly drafted governmental ordinances specific to each specialty are based.
Guard and security work to protect persons and valuables includes:
General responsibilities of the employer
The employer or his or her agent may employ only persons who are currently qualified and adequately instructed for the desired guard and security activity. These qualifications are set out in writing.
The conduct of the personnel, including notification of deficiencies and particular dangers, must be regulated with detailed service instructions.
If particular dangers result from guard and security work, adequate supervision of the personnel must be ensured.
Guard and security tasks should be taken on only when avoidable dangers in the working area have been eliminated or secured. To this end, the scope and course of the security, including known side activities, must be set out in writing.
The employer or his or her agent, independent of the client’s duties, must ensure that the property to be secured has been inspected for dangers. Records of these inspections must be kept. These inspections must take place on a regular basis and also immediately when the occasion warrants.
The employer or his or her agent must require of the client that avoidable dangers be eliminated or dangerous locations be secured. Until these security measures are implemented, regulations should be formulated that guarantee the safety of the guard and security personnel in another manner. Inadequately secured danger zones should be excluded from surveillance.
The guard and security personnel must be instructed on the property to be secured and its specific dangers during the time period when the guard and safety activity will take place.
The guard and security personnel must be supplied with all necessary facilities, equipment and resources, especially appropriate footwear, effective flashlights in darkness, as well as personal protective gear in good condition, as needed. The personnel must be adequately instructed in the use of such resources. Equipment and other resources that are worn must not unduly restrict freedom of movement, especially of the hands.
General duties of the employee
Employees must abide by all occupational safety measures and follow the service instructions. They should not accede to any directives from the client that contravene the safety instructions.
Deficiencies and dangers that are discovered, as well as corrective measures taken, must be reported to the employer or his or her agent.
The employees must use the equipment and resources provided appropriately. They may not use or enter installations if not authorized.
Employees must not use alcoholic beverages or other intoxicants while on duty. This also applies for an appropriate time period before work: the employee must start work sober.
Employees who must wear glasses to correct their vision during guard or security work must secure these against loss or bring a replacement pair. This also applies to contact lenses.
Use of dogs
In general, only dogs tested and approved by appropriately certified and competent dog handlers are to be used for guard and security work. Untested dogs should be used only for warning tasks when they are clearly under the control of their handler, but not for additional security tasks. Dogs that have vicious tendencies or that are no longer sufficiently competent must not be used.
Excessive demands should not be put on the dogs. Adequate education and training based on the results of research on animal behaviour must be provided. Proper limits for period of service, minimum rest times and total daily service times need to be set.
The competence of the dog handler must be regularly certified. If the handler is no longer adequately qualified, authorization to handle dogs should be withdrawn.
Regulations must be formulated to guarantee smooth and safe handling of dogs, contact with the dog, the taking over and turning over of the dog, leashing and unleashing, a uniform set of commands used by different handlers, the handling of the leash and conduct when third persons are encountered.
Minimal requirements are prescribed for dog kennels concerning condition and equipping as well as setting access authorization.
When transporting dogs, a separation between transport area and passenger area must be maintained. Car trunks are not suitable under any circumstances. Separate facilities for each dog must be provided.
Use of firearms
Employees must use firearms only on express instructions of the employer or his or her agent, in accordance with all legal requirements and only when the employee is appropriately reliable, suited and trained.
Those carrying firearms must regularly participate in target practice at authorized firing ranges and prove their skill and knowledge. Corresponding records must be kept. If an employee no longer fulfils the requirements, firearms must be withdrawn.
Only officially tested and approved firearms are to be used. The firearms should be tested by experts periodically, and also whenever an inadequacy is suspected; they must be repaired by trained and officially approved persons.
Guards and security personnel must not have or use blank- or gas-firing weapons. In confrontations with armed perpetrators, these weapons provide a false sense of security that leads to extreme danger without adequate possibility of self-defence.
Strict regulations guarantee the flawless and safe use, carrying, transfer, loading and unloading, and storage of firearms and ammunition.
Transporting money and valuables
Due to the high risk of robbery, at least two couriers must be employed for transporting money in publicly accessible areas. One of these must be exclusively occupied with security. This applies also to the couriers’ movements between money transport vehicles and the locations where the money is picked up or delivered.
Exceptions are permitted only if: (1) the money transport is not recognizable by outsiders as a transport of money either from the clothing or equipment of the personnel, or from the vehicle used, the route taken or the course of the transport; (2) the incentive for robbery is significantly reduced by technical equipment that must be clearly recognizable by outsiders; or (3) only coin is being transported, and this is clearly recognizable by outsiders from the conduct and course of the transport.
Technical equipment that considerably reduces the incentive for robbery includes, for example, devices that either constantly or during the entire transport are firmly attached to the money transport container and that, in the case of a forced conveyance or snatching during delivery, automatically either immediately or after a timed delay set off an optical alarm by means of a release of coloured smoke. Additional devices such as simultaneous acoustic alarms are advisable.
The design, form, size and weight of money transport containers must be adequately manageable for carrying. They must not be attached to the courier, as this poses an increased risk.
Money transport with vehicles should in general be carried out only in vehicles specially secured for this purpose. These vehicles are adequately secured when their construction and equipment meet the requirements of Accident Prevention Regulation “Vehicles” (VBG 12) and especially the “Safety Rules for Money Transport Vehicles” (ZH1/209).
Money transport in unsecured vehicles is permissible only when exclusively coin, clearly recognizable as such, is being transported, or it is completely unrecognizable as a transport of money. In this case neither the clothing nor equipment of the personnel, nor the construction, equipping or markings of the vehicle used should indicate that money is being transported.
Transport times and routes as well as loading and unloading locations needs to be varied. Money transport vehicles must also be constantly occupied by at least one person behind barred doors during loading and unloading in public areas.
Alarm centres and vaults
Alarm centres and vaults must be adequately secured against assault. The minimal requirements are the Accident Prevention Regulation “Tellers’ windows” (VBG 120), which governs securing and equipping credit and money-changing institutions that deal with cash.
There are practical limits in all attempts to improve occupational safety. This is especially clear in guard and security work. Whereas in other areas, structural measures and improvements lead to success, these play only a secondary role in guard and security work. Significant improvements in this area ultimately can be achieved only by changing the company organizational structure and human conduct. The newly drafted Accident Prevention Regulation “Guard and Security Services” (VBG 68), which may seem exaggerated and too detailed on superficial viewing, nevertheless takes this basic knowledge into very particular consideration.
Thus it is not surprising that since regulations have taken effect, the reportable accidents and occupational diseases in commercial guard and security companies have declined by about 20%, despite the generally increasing crime rate. Some companies which have especially conscientiously implemented the Accident Prevention Regulation, and additionally have voluntarily applied supplementary security measures based on a criteria catalogue that is available, were able to register decreases in occurrences of accidents and occupational diseases of up to 50%. This was especially true in the use of dogs.
Furthermore, the totality of the measures taken led to a reduction in the mandatory premiums for legal accident insurance for commercial guard and security companies, despite rising costs.
Overall it is clear that secure conduct can be achieved in the long run only with precise norms and organizational regulations, as well as through constant training and checking.
Performance anxiety is, like fear, joy or grief, an emotion which includes physical and psychological components. Motor responses, autonomic reactions, memories, ideas and thoughts continuously interact. Performance anxiety is no longer thought of as an isolated symptom but rather as a syndrome comprising attitudes, traits and unconscious conflicts that become activated in particular circumstances.
Nearly every person must deal with performance anxiety in one form or another at one time or another. By the nature of their profession, however, performing artists, or those for whom public performance is an important part of their profession, have to deal with performance anxiety more frequently and often more intensely than do others. Even those with years of experience may still have a performance anxiety problem.
Performance anxiety is mainly characterized by an irrational situational anxiety accompanied by unwanted physical symptoms which can lead to dysfunction and/or uncontrolled behaviour. It occurs especially in those situations in which a task has to be done that could subject the performer to possible criticism from others. Examples of such situations include public speaking, giving a concert, writing exams, sexual performance, etc. Performance anxiety can cause a broad range of possible physical symptoms of distress, such as trembling hands, trembling lips, diarrhoea, sweating hands and palpitations of the heart. These symptoms can not only affect the quality of a performance but may also negatively influence the sufferer’s future and career.
Some experts believe that the causes of performance anxiety include improper practice and preparation habits, insufficient performance experience, having an inappropriate repertoire and so on. Other theories view performance anxiety as mainly caused by negative thoughts and poor self-esteem. Still others are of the opinion that the stress and fear of performance anxiety is closely related to so-called career stress, which includes feelings of inadequacy, anticipation of punishment or criticism and loss of status. Although there is no agreement as to the cause of performance anxiety, and the explanation cannot be simple, it is clear that the problem is widespread and that even world-famous artists such as Yehudi Menuhin or Pablo Casals are known to have suffered from performance anxiety and fear all their lives.
Personal traits are undoubtedly related to performance anxiety. A challenge for one person can be a catastrophe for another. The experience of performance anxiety depends to a great extent on the personal perception of a fearful situation. Some introverted individuals may, for example, be more prone to stressful events and thus more likely to suffer performance anxiety than others. For some people, success can also cause fear and performance anxiety. This in turn reduces and undermines the communicative and creative aspects of the performer.
To achieve an optimum performance a bit of fear and stress and a certain amount of nervousness may be unavoidable. The margin between the degree of (still) acceptable performance anxiety and the necessity of therapeutic intervention, however, can be set only by the performer.
Performance anxiety is a complex phenomenon; its various components lead to variable and changing reactions depending on the situation. Individual aspects, work situations, social factors, personal development and so on play a considerable role, making it difficult to give general rules.
Methods for diminishing performance anxiety include developing personal coping strategies or learning relaxation techniques such as biofeedback. Such approaches are directed towards transforming task-irrelevant negative thoughts and worrisome anticipations into task-relevant demands and the positive task-orientated self. Medical interventions, such as beta-blockers and tranquillizers are also commonly used (Nubé 1995). The taking of drugs however, remains controversial and should be done only under medical supervision due to possible side effects and contra-indications.
Nations maintain military forces to deter aggression, discourage conflict and, should the need arise, to be prepared to fight and win their wars. Military forces are also used in non-combat roles that are referred to as “peacetime engagements” or “operations other than war”. These include: humanitarian missions such as emergency disaster assistance; peacemaking and peacekeeping operations; counter-drug and counter-terrorism work; and security assistance.
Men and women of the armed forces work under the sea, on surface ships, above the earth, on all kinds of terrain, in extremes of temperature and at high elevations. Many military jobs relate to maintaining the skills needed to operate equipment unique to the military (like submarines, fighter aircraft and tanks) in action against an armed enemy. The military also has a large number of uniformed people who perform maintenance, repair, administrative, medical and other functions to support those who fight battles.
All military people maintain proficiency in basic military skills, such as marksmanship, and a high level of physical fitness so that they may react appropriately if they become involved in warfare. Exercise programmes are used extensively to develop and maintain strength and aerobic fitness. If used in excess or poorly managed, these programmes may cause excessive injuries.
In addition to their job exposures, uniformed people are often at enhanced risk of acquiring infectious diseases. Basic training camp environments and close living spaces, as found on ships, may contribute to outbreaks of acute respiratory and other infectious diseases. Noise is a universal problem. Also, service in many parts of the world brings with it exposure to contaminated food and water, and to disease vectors carrying protozoan, viral and bacterial agents.
The armed forces rely on many civilian employees to do research and development and provide maintenance, administrative and other support services. Some civilians are paid by the military; others work for companies under contract to the military. In the past, civilian workers did not routinely accompany members of the armed forces into hostile areas. Recently, civilians have been performing many support functions in close proximity to deployed military forces, and may face similar occupational and environmental exposures.
The Fixed Workplace
In many fixed military facilities (such as repair depots, administrative offices and hospitals) uniformed members and civilians perform operations that are similar to those found in non-military workplaces. These include painting; degreasing; welding; grinding; chipping; electroplating; handling hydraulic fluids, fuels and cleaning agents; using microcomputers; and managing patients with infectious diseases. However, performing industrial operations in confined spaces in ships and submarines, or inside armoured vehicles, increases the risk of overexposure to toxicants. Additionally, some work must be done by divers at various depths.
In some fixed facilities, militarily unique items are developed, manufactured, serviced or stored. These items may include: nerve and mustard agent munitions; military explosives, propellants and special fuels, such as hydroxylammonium nitrate; laser range finders and target designators; microwave radiation sources in radar and communications equipment; and ionizing radiation from munitions, armour and nuclear power plants. Composite materials are not militarily unique but are common in military equipment. Where older military equipment is used, workers may be exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls in electrical systems, asbestos in the lagging around steam pipes and lead-based paints.
The Militarily Unique Workplace
People in the armed forces are always on duty, but commanders try to maintain acceptable work-rest cycles. However, battles are not fought on prearranged schedules, and military forces train as they expect to fight. During intense training, fatigue and sleep deprivation are common. The situation is worsened by quickly transporting military forces across time zones and having them perform their jobs immediately upon arrival. In all military operations, and particularly large operations that cover wide areas and involve air, land and sea forces from different countries, there is considerable pressure to maintain effective coordination and communication among the various elements to reduce the risk of accidents, such as placing weapons fire upon a friendly target. Stress is increased if operations result in long family separations, or if the possibility of hostile action exists.
On naval vessels, the tight spaces, multiple doors and ladders and narrow passageways close to operating equipment are hazardous. The confined spaces also restrict movement during work and contribute to ergonomic injuries (see figure 1). In submarines, air quality is a major concern that requires constant monitoring and the restriction of unnecessary contaminants. In all military environments where exposure to nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons or other radioactive material may occur, exposures are assessed, controls are implemented and monitoring is conducted as appropriate.
Figure 1. On aircraft carriers, naval flight deck personnel must work in extremely close proximity to operating fixed-wing jets and helicopters, and their associated safety hazards, exhaust combustion products and noise.
Flight operations in the aerospace environment involve a variety of fixed-wing and rotary-wing (helicopter) aircraft. Military air crews experience exposures that are different from those in the civilian environment. Many military aircraft are unique in their design, flight characteristics and mission performance. Air crew members are frequently at risk of exposure to excessive accelerative forces (centrifugal and gravitational), decompression sickness, circadian desynchrony resulting from long missions or night operations and spatial disorientation. Vibration originating from the aircraft and/or atmospheric turbulence may affect vision, result in motion sickness, produce fatigue and contribute to the development of disorders of the lumbar spine, particularly in helicopter pilots. Exposure to products of combustion from engine exhaust, overheating or burning of aircraft components may pose a toxic hazard if the aircraft is damaged during combat operations. Fatigue is a major concern when flight operations occur over extended periods of time, or involve long distances. Spatial disorientation and illusionary sensations of aircraft attitude and motion can be causes of mishaps, particularly when flights occur at high speeds in close proximity to the ground. Ground crews may be under considerable time pressure to perform maintenance and resupply (often with aircraft engines running) under difficult working conditions.
Helicopters are used extensively in the military as low-altitude weapons systems and observation platforms, and as medical evacuation and utility vehicles. These rotary-wing aircraft are associated with unique physical hazards, mission profiles and physiological implications for air crews. Helicopters have the ability to fly forward, sideward and rearward, but are inherently unstable flight platforms. Consequently, helicopter air crews must maintain constant concentration and have exceptional vision and muscle coordination to operate flight control systems and avoid collisions with terrain and other obstructions during low-level flight.
Fatigue is a serious concern for crew members involved in extended flights, large numbers of short missions and/or low-level, nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flights in which pilots fly as close to terrain contours as the speed and performance contours will allow. Low-level flights at night are particularly challenging. Night vision goggles are commonly used by helicopter pilots in military aviation and law enforcement; however, their use may restrict depth perception, field of view and colour differentiation. Engines, transmissions and rotors of helicopters produce unique vibration spectra which can adversely affect visual acuity and contribute to muscle strain and fatigue. These aircraft components also produce intense noise levels which can disrupt cockpit communications and contribute to hearing loss. Shrouds enclosing noisy components, acoustic blankets as insulation in cockpit/cabin areas and hearing protective devices are used to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Heat stress may be a special problem for helicopter air crews given the lower altitudes at which helicopters operate. Helicopter crashes tend to involve vertical impacts with the ground, often at relatively low forward speeds (in contrast to the longitudinal pattern of fixed-wing aircraft). Compression fractures of the spine and basilar skull fractures are common injuries in crash victims. Design features employed to prevent and control injuries include protective helmets, crash-worthy fuel systems, strengthened cockpit areas to prevent intrusion of the rotor system or transmission, and special seats and restraint systems utilizing shock-absorbing devices.
Ground troops fire rifles, large guns and rockets, and ride in vehicles over rough terrain. At times they work under the cover of smokes produced from fog oil, diesel fuel or other chemicals (see figure 2). Exposures to noise, blast overpressure from large guns, vibration and propellant combustion products are common. Ballistic eye injuries occur but can be prevented by protective eyewear. The possibility of adverse health effects is increased when rockets and large guns are fired in enclosed areas, as in buildings. Armoured vehicle crew compartments are closed spaces where carbon monoxide concentrations may reach thousands of parts per million after weapons firing, and require effective ventilation systems. Heat stress in some vehicles may necessitate the use of cooling vests. Troops may also experience heat stress from wearing special clothing, hoods and masks to protect against chemical and biological agent attacks. These personal protective measures may contribute to accidents because of interference with vision and mobility. In field medical facilities, infection control practices and containment of waste anaesthetic gases may present unique challenges.
Figure 2. This mechanized smoke generator produces a curtain of fog oil smoke through heat evaporation; fog oil may cause a slipping hazard.
Military personnel face injury and illness from a variety of weapons. The more conventional weapons produce casualties using projectiles and fragments, blast effects (which may result in lung contusion trauma) and flame and incendiary devices, such as those containing napalm and phosphorus. Eye injuries from lasers may occur accidentally or when lasers are used as offensive weapons. Other weapons systems employ biological material, such as anthrax spores, or chemicals like anticholinesterase agents.
Extensive use of mines has caused concern because of the casualties that have occurred in civilian non-combatants. Narrowly defined, a mine is an explosive ordinance designed to be buried in the ground. In reality, a mine is any hidden explosive that lies in wait and may be detonated by enemy forces, friendly forces, non-combatants or animals. Mines may be employed against matériel or people. Anti-matériel mines are directed at military vehicles and may contain about 5 to 10 kg of explosive, but require 135 kg or more of compressive force to be activated. Antipersonnel mines are designed to maim rather than to kill. Less than 0.2 kg of explosive buried in the ground can blow off a foot. The dirt particles surrounding a mine become missiles that grossly contaminate wounds. The radius in which a mine can produce casualties was expanded with the development of the “pop-up mine”. In these mines a small explosive charge sends a canister about a metre into the air. The canister immediately detonates, spraying fragments to a distance of 35 m. Modern mine designs, like the “Claymore”, can be detonated electrically, by timed fuse or by a trip wire, and can send hundreds of steel spheres, each weighing 0.75 g, over a 60° arc for distances up to 250 m. Within 50 m, gross mutilation and lethal injuries are common.
A range of chemical agents have been employed in warfare. Herbicides (e.g., 2,4-D n-butyl ester mixed with 2,4,5-T n-butyl ester, also known as Agent Orange) were used in Vietnam to control terrain. Some chemicals (e.g., tear gas) have been used as incapacitating agents to produce transient physical or mental effects, or both. Other chemicals are extremely toxic and capable of producing serious injury or death. This category includes the anticholinesterase agents (e.g., Tabun and Sarin), the vesicants or blister agents (e.g., mustard and arsenicals), the lung-damaging or “choking” agents (e.g., phosgene and chlorine) and the blood agents that block the oxidative processes (e.g., hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen chloride).
In addition to armed conflict, other potential sources of exposure to chemical agents include: terrorist activities; storage sites for old military chemical stocks, where leaking containers may occur; sites where military chemical stocks are being destroyed through incineration or other means; and the accidental unearthing of old, forgotten chemical disposal sites.
The Medical Care System
Medical care for the armed forces and civilian workers is focused on prevention. Often, medical personnel study military vehicles and equipment during development to identify potential health hazards to users and maintainers so that these can be controlled. Training and user manuals and educational programmes address protection against hazards. Medical care includes initial medical screening, periodic medical assessment, health education and promotion, and disability evaluations, in addition to primary care and emergency services. Medical personnel also participate in accident investigations. When people deploy to areas presenting new health risks, medical risk assessments are used to identify threats and interventions like vaccines, prophylactic drugs, personnel protective measures and educational programmes.
Medical personnel who provide preventive and primary care to members of the armed forces must be knowledgeable about the characteristics of weapons used in training and on the battlefield to: predict and prepare for the casualties that may occur; take preventive actions that may reduce morbidity and/or mortality; and provide appropriate treatment when casualties do occur. Personal protective equipment is important in defending against chemical and biological agents and eye injuries from missiles and lasers. Other measures to be considered are vaccines and chemoprophylactic drugs for biological agents, and drug pre-treatment and antidotes for chemical agents. Training medical personnel in the early detection and management of illnesses and injuries caused by weapons is critical. Early recognition can result in rapid initiation of appropriate therapy and possibly a reduction in future morbidity and mortality. Also, military surgical staffs are better prepared to take care of their patients and themselves if they are knowledgeable about the wounds they are treating. For example: wounds made by high-velocity rifles often do not require extensive debridement for soft-tissue destruction; wounds made by fragmentation bullets may require extensive exploration; and wounds may contain unexploded munitions.
Acting involves placing your mind in the world of fantasy and bringing forth a character for a performance. Actors are involved in many arts and entertainment areas, including theatre, film, television, amusement and theme parks and so on. Hazards faced by actors include stress, physical hazards and chemical hazards. Stage fright (performance anxiety) is considered in a separate article.
Causes of stress include the fierce competition for scarce jobs, the pressure of performing shows daily or even more frequently (e.g., theme parks and matinee days), working at night, touring shows, filming deadlines, frequent retakes (especially while filming television commercials) and so on. There are also psychological pressures involved in adopting and maintaining a character role, including the pressure to express certain emotions upon demand, and the tactics often used by directors to obtain a given reaction from an actor. As a result, actors have higher rates of alcoholism and suicide. The solution to many of these causes of stress involves improved working and living conditions, especially when touring and on location. In addition, personal measures such as therapy and relaxation techniques can also help.
Many costumes are a fire hazard near open flames or other ignition sources. Special effects costumes and masks can create problems of heat stress and excess weight.
The costumes of all actors working near open flames must be treated with an approved fire retardant. Actors wearing heavy costumes or costumes not suitable to the climate should be given adequate work breaks. With heavy metal or wood framework costumes, supplying cool air inside the costume might be necessary. Provision should also be made for easy escape from such costumes in case of emergency.
Theatrical makeup can cause allergic skin and eye reactions and irritation in some people. The widespread practice of sharing makeup or applying it to many people from the same container can create risks of transmitting bacterial infections. According to medical experts, transmission of the HIV and other viruses is not likely through shared makeup. The use of hair sprays and other spray products in unventilated dressing rooms is also a problem. Special effects makeup can involve the use of more hazardous materials such as polyurethane and silicone rubber resins and a variety of solvents.
Basic precautions when applying makeup include washing hands before and after; not using old makeup; no smoking, eating or drinking during application; using potable water and not saliva for moistening brushes; avoiding creation of airborne dust; and using pump sprays instead of aerosol sprays. Each performer should have his or her own makeup kit when practical. When applying makeup to several individuals, disposable sponges, brushes and individual applicators, individual lipsticks (or sliced and labelled lipsticks) and so on should be used. The least toxic materials possible should be used for special effects makeup. The dressing room should have a mirror, good lighting and comfortable chairs.
A stunt can be defined as any action sequence that involves a greater than normal risk of injury to performers or others on the set. In many such situations, actors are doubled by stunt performers who have extensive experience and training in carrying out such action sequences. Examples of potentially hazardous stunts include falls, fights, helicopter scenes, car chases, fires and explosions. Careful preplanning and written safety procedures are necessary. See the article “Motion picture and television production” for detailed information on stunts.
Other hazards to actors, especially on location, include environmental conditions (heat, cold, polluted water, etc.), water scenes with possible risk of hypothermia and special effects (fogs and smoke, pyrotechnics, etc.). Special consideration must be given to these factors before filming starts. In theatres, scenes with dirt, gravel, artificial snow and so on can create eye and respiratory irritation problems when hazardous materials are used, or when materials are swept up and reused, resulting in possible biological contamination. An additional hazard is the growing phenomenon of stalking of well-known actors, actresses and other celebrities, with resultant threats or actuality of violence.
The use of children in theatre and motion picture production can lead to exploitation unless careful procedures are enforced to ensure that children do not work long hours, are not placed in hazardous situations and receive adequate education. Concern has also been expressed about the psychological effects on children participating in theatre or motion picture scenes involving simulated violence. Child labour laws in many countries do not adequately protect child actors.
Oceans, lakes, rivers and other large bodies of water present extremes of environmental conditions demanding the maximum in human performance. The defining attribute that characterizes health and safety hazards of maritime rescues is the pervasive presence of the water itself.
Maritime rescues share many of the health and safety hazards experienced in land-based rescues. The risk of communicable disease transmission, exposure to toxic substances, threat of interpersonal violence and exposure to various physical agents (e.g., noise, vibration, radiation) are examples of commonly shared hazards of water and land rescues. The maritime environment, however, presents several unique or exaggerated hazards compared to the land-based environment. This article will focus on those health and safety hazards most identified with at-sea rescues.
Modes of Response
Before discussing specific health and safety hazards it is important to understand that maritime rescues can take place by either surface vessel or aircraft, or a combination of both. The importance of understanding the mode of response is that characteristics of hazard exposure are determined, in part, by the mode.
Surface vessels typically used in maritime rescues travel at speeds under 40 knots (74.1 km/h), have a relatively limited operational range (under 200 miles (320 km)), are heavily influenced by water surface and weather conditions, are subject to damage by floating debris and generally are not sensitive to weight consideration. Helicopters, the most commonly used aircraft in maritime rescue, can travel in excess of 150 knots (278 km/h), may have an effective operational range of 300 miles (480 km) (more with in-flight refuelling), are more influenced by weather than water conditions and are very sensitive to weight concerns.
Factors that determine the mode of response include distance, urgency, geographic location, resource availability, environmental conditions and character of the responding rescue organization. Factors that tend to favour surface vessel response are closer proximity, lower urgency, proximity to metropolitan or developed regions, milder water surface conditions and a less well developed aviation system and infrastructure. Rescue by air tends to be favoured by longer distances, higher urgency, remoteness from metropolitan or developed regions, harsher water surface conditions, and regions with better-developed aviation systems and infrastructure. Figure 1 and figure 2 show both types of rescue.
Figure 1. Maritime rescue by ship.
The dominant hazards of maritime rescues are those intrinsic to the watery environment. Rescue personnel are directly exposed to maritime elements and must be prepared for survival themselves.
Drowning is the most common cause of occupation-related death in the maritime environment. People require specialized flotation equipment to survive in water for any length of time. Even the best swimmers require flotation assistance to survive in rough weather. Prolonged (more that several hours) survival in stormy weather is usually impossible without specialized survival suits or rafts. Injuries, reduced level of consciousness, confusion and panic or uncontrolled fear will reduce the likelihood of water survival.
Water is more efficient than air at conducting away body heat. The risk of death due to hypothermia or hypothermia-induced drowning increases rapidly as water temperature decreases below 24 °C. As water temperatures approach freezing, effective survival time is measured in minutes. Prolonged survival in cold water, even when the surface is calm, is possible only with the assistance of specialized survival suits or rafts.
The maritime environment exhibits the extremes of weather conditions. Wind, rain, fog, snow and icing can be severe. Visibility and the ability to communicate can be seriously restricted. Rescuers are constantly at risk for getting wet through wave and splash action, wind-driven rain or spray, and vessel- or aircraft-generated spray. Water, especially salt water, can damage mechanical and electrical equipment essential for vessel or flight operations.
Exposure to salt water can result in skin, mucosal and eye irritation. Ingestion of water-borne infectious micro-organisms (e.g., Vibrio spp.) increases the likelihood of gastro-intestinal disease. The water around rescue sites can be contaminated with pollutants (e.g., sewage) or substances hazardous to human health (e.g., petroleum products). Potential envenomation by water snakes and by various coelenterates (e.g., jellyfish) can occur in areas supporting these organisms. Water and thermal protective clothing is often cumbersome, restrictive and prone to promote heat stress. During sunny conditions, rescuers can experience skin and eye damage due to reflected ultraviolet light.
The surface of large bodies of water, such as the oceans, typically has undulant wave motion with coexistent surface chop. Rescue personnel, therefore, conduct work on a moving platform, which complicates any movement or procedures. Motion sickness is a constant threat. Surface vessels travelling through rough conditions can experience severe pounding and instability which promotes fatigue, an increased likelihood of falls or being struck by falling objects and equipment failure. Aircraft operating in stormy weather experience turbulence that can induce motion sickness, accelerate fatigue and compound the risks of surface-to-air evacuation.
Planning and Prevention
The maritime environment can be extremely hostile. However, the health and safety hazards associated with maritime rescues can be controlled or minimized through careful planning and prevention efforts. Safe and effective rescues can take place.
Rescue organizations must be acutely aware of the nature of the maritime environment, understand the operational characteristics and limitations of response equipment and personnel, practice system safety and provide suitable equipment, training and leadership. Rescue personnel must be in good physical and mental condition, know their equipment and procedures, stay alert, be prepared, remain proficient and understand the specifics of the situation they are dealing with.
Rescue personnel can be involved in vessel or aviation mishaps. The difference between being a rescuer and needing to be rescued can be only a matter of moments. Ultimate mishap survival is dependent on:
Each stage of mishap survival has its own set of necessary training, equipment, ergonomics and procedures to maximize survival. Maritime rescue personnel usually act in isolation, without immediate backup, and often at long distances from shore. A rule of thumb is for rescuers to have the necessary resources to survive the time it takes to be rescued themselves in the event of their own mishap. Rescuers need to be trained, equipped and prepared to survive in the worst of conditions.
Occupational safety and health in the theatre and opera comprises diverse aspects, including all the problems of industry in general plus specific artistic and cultural aspects. More than 125 different professions are involved in the process of making theatre or opera performances; these performances can take place in classrooms and small theatres, as well as large opera houses or convention halls. Very often theatre and opera companies tour around the country and abroad, performing in diverse buildings.
There are the artistic professions—artists, actors, singers (soloists and choirs), musicians, dancers, coaches, choreographers, conductors and directors; the technical and production professions—technical directors and managers, lighting manager, chief electrician, sound engineer, chief machinist, armourer, wigmaster, dyeing and wardrobe director, property maker, costume maker and others; and the administrative professions—chief accountant, personnel managers, house managers, catering managers, contracts managers, marketing personnel, box office personnel, advertising managers and so on.
The theatre and opera involve general industrial safety hazards such as lifting of heavy objects and accident risks as a result of irregular working hours, combined with factors specific to the theatre, such as the layout of the premises, complex technical arrangements, bad lighting, extreme temperatures and the need to work to tight schedules and meet deadlines. These risks are the same for artists and technical personnel.
A serious attitude towards occupational safety and health demands taking care of the hand of a violinist or the wrist of a ballet dancer, as well as a broader view of the situation of theatre employees as a whole, including both physical and psychological risks. Theatre buildings are also open to the public, and this aspect of safety and health must be taken care of.
There are many types of potential fire hazards in theatres and opera houses. These include: general hazards such as blocked or locked exits, inadequate number and size of exits, lack of training in procedures in the event of fire; backstage hazards such as improper storage of paints and solvents, unsafe storage of scenery and other combustibles, welding in close proximity to combustible materials and lack of proper exits for dressing rooms; on-stage hazards such as pyrotechnics and open flames, lack of fireproofing of drapes, decorations, props and scenery, and lack of stage exits and sprinkler systems; and audience hazards such as permitting smoking, blocked aisles and exceeding the legal number of occupants. In case of a fire in the theatre building all aisles, passages and staircases must be kept entirely free from chairs or any other obstructions, to help evacuation. Fire escapes and emergency exits must be marked. The alarm bells, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, heat and smoke detectors and emergency lights must function. The fire curtain must be lowered and raised in the presence of each audience, unless a deluge sprinkler system is installed. When the audience must leave, whether in an emergency or at the end of a performance, all exit doors must be open.
Fire safety procedures must be established and fire drills held. One or more trained fire guards must be present at all performances unless the fire department assigns firefighters. All scenery, props, drapes and other combustible materials present on the stage must be fireproofed. If pyrotechnics or open flames are present, fire permits must be obtained when required and safe procedures established for their use. Stage and backstage lighting equipment and electrical systems must meet standards and be properly maintained. Combustible materials and other fire hazards should be removed. Smoking should not be allowed in any theatre except in properly designated areas.
Grids and Rigging
Theatre and opera stages have overhead grids from which lights are hung, and rigging systems to fly (raise and lower) scenery and sometimes performers. There are ladders and overhead catwalks for lighting technicians and others to work overhead. On the stage, discipline is required from both the artists and the technical staff because of all the hanging equipment above. Theatre scenery can be moved vertically and horizontally. Horizontal movement of scenery at the side of the stage can be done manually or mechanically through the ropes from the grids in the rope house. Safety routines are very important in rope and counterweight flying. There are different kinds of rigging systems, using hydraulic and electric power. Rigging should be done by trained and qualified personnel. Safety procedures for rigging include: inspection of all rigging equipment before use and after alterations; ensuring load capacities are not exceeded; following safe procedures when loading, unloading or operating rigging systems; maintaining visual contact with a moving piece at all times; warning everyone before moving any rigged object; and ensuring no one is underneath when moving scenery. The lighting crew must take appropriate safety measures while mounting, connecting and directing spotlights (figure 1). Lights should be fastened to the grid with safety chains. Safety shoes and helmets should be worn by personnel working on stage when any work is proceeding overhead.
Figure 1. Arranging lights in a lowered lighting grid.
Costumes and Makeup
Costumes can be made in the theatres’ own ateliers by the wardrobe attendants. It is a heavy job, especially the handling and transportation of old classical costumes. Body aches, headaches, musculoskeletal strains and sprains and other injuries can result from operating sewing machines, dryers, irons, ironing boards and electrical equipment; dust from textiles is a health hazard. Cleaning and dying of costumes, wigs and shoes can use a variety of hazardous liquid solvents and aerosol sprays.
Wearing heavy costumes can be hot under stage lights. Frequent costume changes between scenes can be a source of stress. If flames are present, fireproofing of costumes is essential.
Precautions for wardrobe attendants include proper electrical safety; adequate lighting and ventilation for solvents and spraying; adequate adjustable chairs, work tables and ironing boards; and knowledge of textiles health hazards.
Performers usually have to wear heavy layers of makeup for several hours for every performance. Application of makeup and hair styling is usually done by makeup and hair artists in commercial theatre and opera. Often the makeup artist has to work on several performers in a short period of time. Makeup can contain a wide variety of solvents, dyes and pigments, oils, waxes and other ingredients, many of which can cause skin or eye irritation or allergies. Special effects makeup can involve the use of hazardous adhesives and solvents. Eye injuries can result from abrasions during application of eye makeup. Shared makeup is a concern for transmission of bacterial contamination (but not hepatitis or HIV). The use of aerosol hair sprays in enclosed dressing rooms is an inhalation hazard. For makeup removal, large quantities of cold creams are used; solvents are also used for removing special effects makeup.
Precautions include washing off the makeup with soap after every performance, cleaning of brushes and sponges or using disposable ones, using individual applicators for makeup and keeping all makeup cold. The makeup room must have mirrors, flexible lighting and adequate chairs.
Setting Up and Striking Sets
Scenery at a theatre may require one standing set, which can be constructed of heavy materials; more frequently there can be several changes of scenery during a performance, requiring movability. Similarly, for a repertory theatre, changeable scenery can be constructed which is easily transportable. Scenery can be built on wheels, for mobility.
Stage crews risk injury when building, disassembling and moving scenery, and when moving counterbalances. Hazards include back, leg and arm injuries. Accidents often occur when breaking down (striking) the set when a show’s run is over, due to fatigue. Precautions include wearing hard hats and safety shoes, safe lifting procedures and equipment, banning of unnecessary personnel and not working when fatigued.
For scene decorators or painters painting, nailing and laying out backdrops, paint and other chemicals are also health hazards. For carpenters, unsafe worksites, noise and vibration as well as air contamination are all problems. Wig and mask makers generally have problems with working postures as well as health risks associated with the use of resins—for example, when working on bald heads and false noses. Health risks include toxic chemicals and possible allergies, skin irritation and asthmatic complaints.
There are often national laws, for example, building codes, and local regulations for fire safety. For grids and rigging, directives from the European Economic Commission—for instance, on machinery (89/392 EEC) and on lifting appliances for persons—may influence national legislation. Other countries also have safety and health legislation that can affect theatres and opera houses.
Paramedical personnel, including emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and ambulance attendants, provide the initial medical response at the scene of an accident, disaster or acute illness, and transport patients to the point where more definitive treatment can be rendered. Advances in medical equipment and communications have increased the capabilities of these workers to resuscitate and stabilize victims en route to an emergency centre. The increased capabilities of EMTs is matched by the increase in hazards which they now face in performance of their duties. The emergency medical responder works as a member of a small unit, usually two to three persons. Job tasks must often be performed rapidly in poorly equipped locations with limited access. The work environment may present unanticipated or uncontrolled biological, physical and chemical hazards. Dynamic, rapidly changing situations and hostile patients and surroundings magnify the dangers of the work. A consideration of the health risks to paramedical personnel is important in the design of strategies to reduce and prevent injury at work.
Risks to paramedical personnel fall broadly into four main categories: physical hazards, inhalation risks, infectious exposures and stress. Physical hazards involve both musculoskeletal injuries related to job tasks, and effects of the environment in which the work takes place. Heavy and awkward lifting is the predominant physical hazard for these workers, accounting for over one-third of injuries. Back strains constitute the most common type of injury; one retrospective survey found 36% of all reported injuries were due to lower-back strain (Hogya and Ellis 1990). Patient and equipment lifting appear to be the main factors in lower-back injury; nearly two-thirds of back injuries occur at the scene of response. Recurrent back injuries are common and may lead to prolonged or permanent disability and early retirement of experienced workers. Other frequent injuries include contusions of the head, neck, trunk, legs and arms, ankle sprains, wrist and hand sprains and finger wounds. Falls, assaults (both by patients and by bystanders) and motor vehicle accidents are additional major sources of injury. Collisions account for the majority of motor vehicle accidents; associated factors may be heavy work schedules, time pressures, poor weather conditions and inadequate training.
Thermal injury from both cold and hot environments has been reported. Local climate and weather conditions, along with improper clothing and equipment, may contribute to heat stress and cold injury. Accelerated hearing loss from exposure to sirens, which produce ambient noise levels exceeding mandated thresholds, has also been observed in ambulance personnel.
Smoke inhalation and poisoning by gases, including carbon monoxide, represent significant respiratory hazards for paramedics. Though occurring infrequently, these exposures can have dire consequences. Responders arriving on the scene may initially be inadequately prepared for rescue work, and can be overcome by smoke or toxic gases before additional help and equipment are available.
In common with other health-care workers, paramedical personnel are at increased risk of infection with blood-borne pathogenic viruses, especially hepatitis B virus (HBV) and presumably hepatitis C. Serologic markers for HBV infection were found in 13 to 22% of emergency medical technicians, a prevalence level three to four times that of the general population (Pepe et al. 1986). In one survey, evidence of infection was found to correlate with years worked as an EMT. Measures for protection against HBV and HIV transmission established for health-care workers apply to paramedical technicians, and are outlined elsewhere in this Encyclopaedia. As a sidelight, use of latex gloves for protection against blood-borne pathogens may lead to an increased risk for contact urticaria and other manifestations of allergy to rubber products similar to those noted in health-care workers in hospital settings.
Paramedical and ambulance work, which involves work in uncontrolled and hazardous environments as well as responsibility for important decisions with limited equipment and time pressures, leads to high levels of occupational stress. Impaired professional performance, work dissatisfaction and loss of concern for patients, all of which may arise from the effects of stress, endanger both providers and the public. Intervention by mental health workers after major disasters and other traumatic incidents, along with other strategies to reduce burnout among emergency workers, have been proposed to mitigate the destructive effects of stress in this field (Neale 1991).
Few specific recommendations exist for screening and preventive measures in paramedical workers. Blood-borne pathogen training and immunization to HBV should be undertaken in all employees with exposure to infectious fluids and materials. In the United States, health-care facilities are required to inform an emergency response employee who sustains an unprotected exposure to a blood-borne disease or to an airborne, uncommon or rare infectious disease, including tuberculosis (NIOSH 1989). Similar guidelines and statutes exist for other countries (Laboratory Center for Disease Control 1995). Compliance with standard immunization practices for infectious agents (e.g., measles-mumps-rubella vaccine) and tetanus is essential. Periodic screening for tuberculosis is recommended if the potential for high-risk exposure is present. Properly designed equipment, instruction in body mechanics and scene hazard education have been proposed to reduce lifting injuries, although the setting in which much ambulance work is performed may render the most well-designed controls ineffective. The environment in which paramedical work occurs should be considered carefully, and appropriate clothing and protective equipment provided when necessary. Respirator training is appropriate for personnel who may be exposed to toxic gases and smoke. Finally, the erosive effects of stress on paramedical workers and emergency technicians must be borne in mind, and strategies for counselling and intervention should be developed to lessen its impact.
Theatres, motion pictures, television, theme and amusement parks and similar entertainment enterprises all build and paint scenery and make props for their presentations. In many cases, these are made in-house. There are also commercial scenic shops that specialize in making large scenery which is then transported to the site. The major difference between making scenery backstage in a small theatre and building huge sets or even houses for a motion picture, for example, is the scale of the work and who does the work. In small theatres, there is little division of tasks, whereas in larger facilities, there would be a division of labour among carpenters, scenic painters, welders, prop makers and so on.
The scenery for a theatre play, motion picture set or television studio might look realistic, but is often an illusion. The walls of a room are usually not solid but are composed of lightweight flats (panels of painted canvas stretched on wooden frames). Background scenery often consists of backdrops (huge curtains painted to represent the background) which can be lowered and raised for different scenes. Other solid-looking props, such as trees, rocks, vases, mouldings, sculptures and so forth, might be made out of papier mâché, plaster, polyurethane foam or other materials. Today, a wide variety of materials are used to make scenery, including wood, metal, plastics, synthetic fabrics, paper and other modern industrial products. For scenery which performers will walk or climb on, the structures must be solid and meet proper safety standards.
The basic processes and chemicals used for making sets and props tend to be similar for the various types of entertainment facilities. Outdoor sets, however, can often use heavy construction materials such as cement on a large scale, which would be impractical inside due to smaller load-bearing capacities. The degree of hazard depends on the types and amounts of chemicals used, and the precautions taken. A theatre might use quarts of polyurethane foam resin for making small props, while the inside of a tunnel in a theme park set might use hundreds of gallons of the resin. Small in-house shops tend to have less awareness of the hazards, and overcrowding often creates additional hazards due to the proximity of incompatible processes such as welding and use of flammable solvents.
Wood, plywood, particle board and Plexiglas are commonly used in constructing sets. Hazards include: accidents with woodworking machinery, power tools and hand tools; electrical shock; fire from combustible wood dust; and toxic effects from inhalation of wood dust, formaldehyde and methyl methacrylate decomposition products from machining plywood, particle board and Plexiglas, and solvents used with contact adhesives.
Precautions include machine guards, proper electrical safety, housekeeping and adequate storage to reduce fire hazards, dust collectors, adequate ventilation and eye protection.
Welding, Cutting and Brazing
Steel and aluminium frameworks are commonly used for the construction of sets. These are often welded using oxyacetylene torches and arc welders of various types. Injury hazards include fire from flying sparks, fire and explosion from compressed gases, and electrical shock from arc welders; health hazards include metal fumes, fluxes, welding gases (ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide) and ultraviolet radiation.
Precautions include removal or protection of combustible materials, proper storage and handling of compressed gas cylinders, electrical safety, adequate ventilation and personal protective equipment.
Paints, lacquers, varnishes, dye solutions and other coatings are used for painting scenery flats and fabric drops. The paints and dye solutions can be either solvent based or water based. Powdered pigments and dyes are usually mixed in the shop, with the use of lead chromate pigments still being common. Large flats and drops are often sprayed. Solvents are used for dissolving dyes and resins, thinning, removing paint and other coatings and for cleaning tools, brushes and even hands. Hazards include skin contact with solvents and inhalation of solvent vapours, spray mists and powdered dyes and pigments. Solvents are also fire hazards, particularly when sprayed.
Precautions include elimination of lead pigments, using water-based paints and dyes, adequate ventilation for use of solvents, respiratory protection for spraying, proper storage and handling of flammable liquids and proper disposal of waste solvents and paints.
Polyurethane foam resins, epoxy resins, polyester resins and other resins are commonly used to make large sets and props. Spraying of polyurethane foam resins containing diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) is particularly dangerous, with hazards of chemical pneumonia and asthma. Epoxy resins, polyester resins and solvents have skin, eye and inhalation hazards, and are fire hazards.
Precautions include substitution of safer materials (such as cement or celastic instead of spray polyurethane foams, or water-based materials to replace solvent-based types), local exhaust ventilation, proper storage and handling, proper disposal of waste materials and adequate personal protective equipment.
Props and Models
Plastic resins are also used to make body armour, face masks, breakaway glass and other props and models, as are wood, plaster, metal, plastics and so on. A variety of water-based and solvent-based adhesives are also used. Solvents are used in cleanup. Precautions are similar to those already discussed.
The motion picture and television industry is found throughout the world. Motion picture production can take place in fixed studios, on large commercial studio lots or on location anywhere. Film production companies range in size from large corporations’ own studios to small companies that rent space in commercial studios. The production of television shows, soap operas, videos and commercials has much in common with motion picture production.
Motion picture production involves many stages and a crew of interacting specialists. The planning stages include obtaining a finished script, determining the budget and schedule, choosing types of location and studios, designing the scene-by-scene appearance of the film, selecting costumes, planning sequence of action and camera locations and lighting schemes.
Once the planning is completed, the detailed process of choosing the location, building sets, gathering the props, arranging the lighting and hiring the actors, stunt performers, special effects operators and other needed support personnel begins. Filming follows the preproduction stage. The final step is film processing and editing, which is not discussed in this article.
Motion picture and television production can involve a wide variety of chemical, electrical and other hazards, many of which are unique to the film industry.
Hazards and Precautions
Filming in a studio or on a studio lot has the advantage of permanent facilities and equipment, including ventilation systems, power, lighting, scene shops, costume shops and more control over environmental conditions. Studios can be very large in order to accommodate a variety of filming situations.
Filming on location, especially outdoors in remote locations, is more difficult and hazardous than in a studio because transportation, communications, power, food, water, medical services, living quarters and so on must be provided. Filming on location can expose the film crew and actors to a wide variety of hazardous conditions, including wild animals, poisonous reptiles and plants, civil unrest, climate extremes and adverse local weather conditions, communicable diseases, contaminated food and water, structurally unsafe buildings, and buildings contaminated with asbestos, lead, biological hazards and so on. Filming on water, in the mountains, in deserts and other dangerous locales poses obvious hazards.
The initial survey of possible filming locations should involve evaluating these and other potential hazards to determine the need for special precautions or alternative locations.
Fabricating scenery for motion pictures can involve constructing or modifying a building or buildings, building of indoor and outdoor sets and so on. These can be full size or scaled down. Stages and scenery should be strong enough to bear the loads under consideration (see “Scenery shops” in this chapter).
Basic life safety includes ensuring adequate exits, keeping access routes and exits marked and clear of equipment and electrical cables and removal or proper storage and handling of combustible materials, flammable liquids and compressed gases. Dry vegetation around outdoor locations and combustible materials used in filming such as sawdust and tents must be removed or flame-proofed.
Automobiles, boats, helicopters and other means of transportation are common on film locations and a cause of many accidents and fatalities, both when used for transportation and while filming. It is essential that all drivers of vehicles and aircraft be fully qualified and obey all relevant laws and regulations.
Scaffolding and rigging
On location and in studios, lights are rigged to sets, scaffolding or permanent overhead grids, or are free standing. Rigging is also used to fly scenery or people for special effects. Hazards include collapsing scaffolds, falling lights and other equipment and failures of rigging systems.
Precautions for scaffolds include safe construction, guardrails and toeboards, proper supporting of rolling scaffolds and securing of all equipment. Construction, operation, maintenance, inspection and repair of rigging systems should be done only by properly trained and qualified persons. Only assigned personnel should have access to work areas such as scaffolds and catwalks.
Electrical and lighting equipment
Large amounts of power are usually needed for camera lights and everyday electrical needs on a set. In the past direct current (DC) power was used, but alternating current (AC) power is common today. Often, and especially on location, independent sources of power are used. Examples of electrical hazards include shorting of electrical wiring or equipment, inadequate wiring, deteriorated wiring or equipment, inadequate grounding of equipment and working in wet locations. Tie-ins to the power sources and un-ties at the end of filming are two of the most dangerous activities.
All electrical work should be done by licensed electricians and should follow standard electrical safety practices and codes. Safer direct current should be used around water when possible, or ground fault circuit interrupters installed.
Lighting can pose both electrical and health hazards. High-voltage gas discharge lamps such as neons, metal halide lamps and carbon arc lamps are especially hazardous and can pose electrical, ultraviolet radiation and toxic fume hazards.
Lighting equipment should be kept in good condition, regularly inspected and adequately secured to prevent lights from tipping or falling. It is particularly important to check high-voltage discharge lamps for lens cracks that could leak ultraviolet radiation.
Camera crews can film in many hazardous situations, including shooting from a helicopter, moving vehicle, camera crane or side of a mountain. Basic types of camera mountings include fixed tripods, dollies for mobile cameras, camera cranes for high shots and insert camera cars for shots of moving vehicles. There have been several fatalities among camera operators while filming under unsafe conditions or near stunts and special effects.
Basic precautions for camera cranes include testing of lift controls, ensuring a stable surface for the crane base and pedestal; properly laid tracking surfaces, ensuring safe distances from high-tension electrical wires; and body harnesses where required.
Insert camera cars that have been engineered for mounting of cameras and towing of the vehicle to be filmed are recommended instead of mounting cameras on the outside of the vehicle being filmed. Special precautions include having a safety checklist, limiting the number of personnel on the car, rigging done by experts, abort procedures and having a dedicated radio communications procedure.
Actors, extras and stand-ins
See the article “Actors” in this chapter.
Costumes are made and cared for by wardrobe attendants, who may be exposed to a wide variety of dyes and paints, hazardous solvents, aerosol sprays and so on, often without ventilation.
Hazardous chlorinated cleaning solvents should be replaced with safer solvents such as mineral spirits. Adequate local exhaust ventilation should be used when spraying dyes or using solvent-containing materials. Mixing of powders should be done in an enclosed glove box.
A wide variety of special effects are used in motion picture production to simulate real events that would otherwise be too dangerous, impractical or expensive to execute. These include fogs, smoke, fire, pyrotechnics, firearms, snow, rain, wind, computer-generated effects and miniature or scaled-down sets. Many of these have significant hazards. Other hazardous special effects can involve the use of lasers, toxic chemicals such as mercury to give silvery effects, flying objects or people with rigging and electric hazards associated with rain and other water effects. Appropriate precautions would need to be taken with such special effects.
General precautions for hazardous special effects include adequate preplanning, having written safety procedures, using adequately trained and experienced operators and the least hazardous special effects possible, coordinating with the fire department and other emergency services, making everyone aware of the intended use of special effects (and being able to refuse to participate), not allowing children in the vicinity, running detailed rehearsals with testing of the effects, clearing the set of all but essential personnel, having a dedicated emergency communications system, minimizing the number of retakes and having procedures ready to abort production.
Pyrotechnics are used to create effects involving explosions, fires, light, smoke and sound concussions. Pyrotechnics materials are usually low explosives (mostly Class B), including flash powder, flash paper, gun cotton, black powder and smokeless powder. They are used in bullet hits (squibs), blank cartridges, flash pots, fuses, mortars, smoke pots and many more. Class A high explosives, such as dynamite, should not be used, although detonating cord is sometimes used. The major problems associated with pyrotechnics include premature triggering of the pyrotechnic effect; causing a fire by using larger quantities than needed; lack of adequate fire extinguishing capabilities; and having inadequately trained and experienced pyrotechnics operators.
In addition to the general precautions, special precautions for explosives used in pyrotechnics include proper storage, the use of appropriate type and in smallest amounts necessary to achieve the effect, and testing them in the absence of spectators. When pyrotechnics are used smoking should be banned and firefighting equipment and trained personnel should be on hand. The materials should be set off by electronic firing controls and adequate ventilation is needed.
The uses of fire effects range from ordinary gas stoves and fireplaces to the destructive fires involved in burning cars, houses, forests and even people (figure 1). In some cases, fires can be simulated by flickering lights and other electronic effects. Materials used to create fire effects include propane gas burners, rubber cement, gasoline and kerosene. They are often used in conjunction with pyrotechnic special effects. Hazards are directly related to the fire getting out of control and the heat they generate. Poor maintenance of fire generating equipment and the excessive use of flammable materials or the presence of other unintended combustible materials, and improper storage of combustible and flammable liquids and gases are all risks. Inexperienced special effects operators can also be a cause of accidents as well.
Figure 1. Fire special effect
Special precautions are similar to those needed for pyrotechnics, such as replacing gasoline, rubber cement and other flammable substances with the safer combustible gels and liquid fuels which have been developed in recent years. All materials in the fire area should be non-combustible or flame-proofed. This precaution includes flame-proofed costumes for actors in the vicinity.
Fogs and smoke effects are common in filming. Dry ice (carbon dioxide), liquid nitrogen, petroleum distillates, zinc chloride smoke generators (which might also contain chlorinated hydrocarbons), ammonium chloride, mineral oil, glycol fogs and water mists are common fog-generating substances. Some materials used, such as petroleum distillates and zinc chloride, are severe respiratory irritants and can cause chemical pneumonia. Dry ice, liquid nitrogen and water mists represent the least chemical hazards, although they can displace oxygen in enclosed areas, possibly making the air unfit for supporting life, especially in enclosed areas. Microbiological contamination can be a problem associated with water-mist generating systems. Some evidence is forthcoming that respiratory irritation is possible from those fogs and smokes that were thought to be safest, such as mineral oil and glycols.
Special precautions include eliminating the most hazardous fogs and smoke; using a fog with the machine designed for it; limiting duration of use, including limiting the number of retakes; and avoiding use in enclosed spaces. Fogs should be exhausted as soon as possible. Respiratory protection for the camera crew should be provided.
Firearms are common in films. All types of firearms are used, ranging from antique firearms to shotguns and machine guns. In many countries (not including the United States) live ammunition is banned. However, blank ammunition, which is commonly used in conjunction with live bullet hits in order to simulate actual bullet impacts, has caused many injuries and fatalities. Blank ammunition used to consist of a metal casing with a percussion primer and smokeless powder topped with a paper wad, which could be ejected at high velocity when fired. Some modern safety blanks use special plastic inserts with a primer and flash powder, giving only a flash and noise. Blank ammunition is commonly used in conjunction with bullet hits (squibs), consisting of a plastic-cased detonator imbedded in the object to be struck by the bullet to simulate actual bullet impacts. Hazards, besides the use of live ammunition, include the effects of use of blanks at close range, mixing up live and blank ammunition or using the wrong ammunition in a firearm. Improperly modified firearms can be dangerous, as can the lack of adequate training in the use of blank-firing firearms.
Live ammunition and unmodified firearms should be banned from a set and non-firing facsimile weapons used whenever possible. Firearms that can actually fire a bullet should not be used, only proper safety blanks. Firearms should be checked regularly by the property master or other firearms expert. Firearms should be locked away, as should all ammunition. Guns should never be pointed at actors in a scene, and the camera crew and others in close proximity to the set should be protected with shields from blanks fired from weapons.
A stunt can be defined as any action sequence that involves a greater than normal risk of injury to performers or others on the set. With increasing demands for realism in films, stunts have become very common. Examples of potentially hazardous stunts include high falls, fights, helicopter scenes, car chases, fires and explosions. About half the fatalities occurring during filming are stunt-related, often also involving special effects.
Stunts can endanger not only the stunt performer but often the camera crew and other performers may be injured as well. Most of the general precautions described for special effects also apply to stunts. In addition, the stunt performer should be experienced in the type of stunt being filmed. A stunt coordinator should be in charge of all stunts since a person cannot perform a stunt and be in adequate control of safety, especially when there are several stunt performers.
Aircraft, especially helicopters, have been involved in the most serious multiple fatality accidents in motion picture production. Pilots are often not adequately qualified for stunt flying. Acrobatic manoeuvres, hovering close to the ground, flying too close to sets using pyrotechnics and filming from helicopters with open doors or from the pontoons without adequate fall protection are some of the most dangerous situations. See the article “Helicopters” elsewhere in the Encyclopaedia.
One precaution is to employ an independent aviation consultant, in addition to the pilot, to recommend and oversee safety procedures. Restriction of personnel within 50 feet of grounded aircraft and clear written procedures for filming on ground near aircraft with their engines running or during aircraft landings or takeoffs are other safety measures. Coordination with any pyrotechnics or other hazardous special effects operators is essential, as are procedures to ensure the safety of camera operators filming from aircraft. Procedures for aborting an operation are needed.
Vehicle action sequences have also been a source of many accidents and fatalities. Special effects, such as explosions, crashes, driving into rivers and car chase scenes with multiple cars, are the most common cause of accidents. Motorcycle scenes can be even more hazardous than automobiles because the operator of the motorcycle suffers from the lack of personal protection.
Special precautions include using camera cars. Using stunt drivers for all cars in a stunt scene can lower the accident rate, as can special training for non-stunt passengers. Other safety rules include proper safety equipment, inspection of all ramps and other equipment to be used during a stunt, using dummies in cars during crashes, explosions and other extremely high risk sequences and not driving cars directly towards cameras if there is a camera operator behind the camera. See figure 2 for an example of using dummies in a roller coaster stunt. Adequate ventilation is needed for automobiles that are being filmed indoors with engines running. Stunt motorcycles should be equipped with a deadman switch so that the motor shuts off when the rider separates from the motorcycle.
Figure 2. Using dummies for a roller coaster stunt.
Stunts using fire and explosion place performers at higher risk and require special precautions beyond those used just for the special effects. Protection for stunt performers directly exposed to flames includes wearing a protective barrier gel (e.g., Zel Jel) on the hair, the skin, clothing and so on. Proper protective clothing, including fireproof suits under costumes; flame-resistant gloves and boots; and sometimes hidden oxygen tanks, should be supplied. Specially trained personnel equipped with carbon dioxide fire extinguishers should be on hand in case of an emergency.
Fight scenes can involve performers in fistfights or other unarmed combat or the use of knives, swords, firearms and other combat equipment. Many film and stage fights do not involve the use of stunt performers, thus increasing the risk of injury because of the lack of training.
Simulated weapons, such as knives and swords with retractable blades, are one safeguard. Weapons should be stored carefully. Training is key. The performer should know how to fall and how to use specific weapons. Adequate choreography and rehearsals of the fights is needed, as is proper protective clothing and equipment. A blow should never be aimed directly at an actor. If a fight involves a high degree of hazard, such as falling down a flight of stairs or crashing through a window, a professional stunt double should be used.
Falls in stunts can range from falling down a flight of stairs to falling off a horse, being thrown through the air by a trampoline or ratchet catapult system, or a high fall off a cliff or building (figure 3). There have been many injuries and fatalities from poorly prepared falls.
Figure 3. High fall stunt.
Only experienced stunt performers should attempt fall stunts. When possible, the fall should be simulated. For example, falling down a flight of stairs can be filmed a few stairs at a time so the stunt performer is never out of control, or a fall off a tall building simulated by a fall of a few feet onto a net and using a dummy for the rest of the fall. Precautions for high falls involve a high fall coordinator and a specialized fall/arrest system for safe deceleration. Falls of more than 15 feet require two safety spotters. Other precautions for falls include airbags, crash pads of canvas filled with sponge rubber, sand pits and so on, depending on the type of fall. Testing of all equipment is crucial.
Animal scenes are potentially very hazardous because of the unpredictability of animals. Some animals, such as large cats, can attack if startled. Large animals like horses can be a hazard just because of their size. Dangerous, untrained or unhealthy animals should not be used on sets. Venomous reptiles such as rattlesnakes are particularly hazardous. In addition to the hazards to personnel, the health and safety of the animals should be considered.
Only trained animal handlers should be allowed to work with animals. Adequate conditions for the animals are needed, as is basic animal safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, fire hoses, nets and tranquilizing equipment. Animals should be allowed adequate time to become familiar with the set, and only required personnel should be permitted on the set. Conditions that could upset animals should be eliminated and animals kept from exposure to loud noises or light flashes whenever possible, thus ensuring the animals will not be injured and will not become unmanageable. Certain situations—for example, those using venomous reptiles or large numbers of horses—will require special precautions.
Water stunts can include diving, filming in fast-moving water, speedboat stunts and sea battles. Hazards include drowning, hypothermia in cold water, underwater obstructions and contaminated water. Emergency teams, including certified safety divers, should be on hand for all water stunts. Diver certification for all performers or camera operators using self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and provision of standby breathing equipment are other precautions. Emergency decompression procedures for dives over 10 m should be in place. Safety pickup boats for rescue and proper safety equipment, such as use of nets and ropes in fast-moving water, are needed.
Health and Safety Programmes
Most major film studios have a full-time health and safety officer to oversee the health and safety programme. Problems of responsibility and authority can occur, however, when a studio rents facilities to a production company, as is increasingly common. Most production companies do not have a health and safety programme. A health and safety officer, with authority to establish safety procedures and to ensure they are carried out, is essential. There is a need to coordinate the activities of others charged with production planning, such as stunt coordinators, special effects operators, firearms experts and the key grip (who is usually the individual most responsible for the safety of sets, cameras, scaffolding, etc.), each of whom has specialized safety knowledge and experience. A health and safety committee that meets regularly with representatives from all departments and unions can provide a conduit between the management and employees. Many unions have an independent health and safety committee which can be a source of health and safety expertise.
Both non-emergency and emergency medical services are essential during film production. Many film studios have a permanent medical department, but most production companies do not. The first step in determining the degree of on-location medical services to be provided is a needs assessment, to identify potential medical risks, including the need for vaccination in certain countries, possible local endemic diseases, evaluation of local environmental and climate conditions, and an evaluation of the quality of local medical resources. The second, pre-planning stage involves a detailed analysis of major risks and availability of adequate emergency and other medical care in order to determine what type of emergency planning is essential. In situations where there are high risks and/or remote locations, trained emergency physicians would be needed on location. Where there is quick access to adequate emergency facilities, paramedics or emergency medical technicians with advanced training would suffice. In addition, adequate emergency transportation should be arranged beforehand. There have been several fatalities due to the lack of adequate emergency transportation (Carlson 1989; McCann 1989).
There are few occupational safety and health regulations aimed specifically at the film production industry. However, many general regulations, such as those affecting fire safety, electrical hazards, scaffolding, lifts, welding and so on, are applicable. Local fire departments generally require special fire permits for filming and may require that standby fire personnel be present on filming sites.
Many productions have special requirements for the licensing of certain special effects operators, such as pyrotechnicians, laser operators and firearms users. There can be regulations and permits required for specific situations, such as the sale, storage and use of pyrotechnics, and the use of firearms.
Employees in occupations that respond to hazardous-substance emergencies or incidents can be broadly classified as hazardous-response personnel. A hazardous-substance emergency or incident can be defined as an uncontrolled or illegal release or threatened release of a hazardous material or its hazardous by-products. A hazardous-substance emergency can arise from a transportation-related incident or at a fixed-site facility. Transportation-related incidents can occur as a result of accidents on land, water or in the air. Fixed-site facilities include industrial facilities, commercial office buildings, schools, farms or any other fixed site that contains hazardous materials.
Employees whose primary responsibility is response to hazardous-materials incidents are generally considered members of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response teams. HAZMAT team professionals include public-sector employees such as fire-fighters, police and transportation officials who have received specialized training in managing hazardous-substance emergencies. Fixed-site facilities such as manufacturing plants, oil refineries or research laboratories often have internal HAZMAT teams who are trained to manage hazardous-materials incidents inside their facilities. Environmental regulations may necessitate that such facilities report incidents to public agencies when the surrounding community is at risk, or if a threshold quantity of a regulated hazardous material has been released. Public health professionals with training in exposure assessment and hazardous materials management, such as industrial (occupational) hygienists, are often members of public- or private-sector HAZMAT teams.
Police and fire personnel are frequently the first professionals to respond to hazardous-substance emergencies, since they may encounter a leak or release of a hazardous substance associated with a transportation accident or structural fire. These employees are typically considered to be first responders, and their primary responsibility is to isolate the public from the release by denying public access to the site of the incident. This is generally achieved through physical control measures such as physical barriers and crowd- and traffic-control measures. First responders typically do not take actions to contain or control the release. First responders may be at greater risk of exposure to hazardous materials than other HAZMAT teams since they may encounter a hazardous-material release without the benefit of full personal protective equipment, or encounter an unexpected exposure. First responders typically notify HAZMAT team members to manage the incident. The specific health concerns of police and fire personnel are described elsewhere in this chapter.
The primary responsibility of the HAZMAT team is to contain and control the release. This activity can be very hazardous when the incident involves explosive or highly toxic materials such as chlorine gas. The incident commander is responsible for deciding what actions should be taken to resolve the emergency. It may take a considerable amount of time to develop a plan of control for complex accidents such as a multiple railroad car derailment or a chemical plant explosion and fire. In some circumstances where mitigation measures involve a significant risk of major injury to HAZMAT personnel, a decision may be reached not to take specific containment measures, and the hazardous material may be released into the environment.
The final phase of a hazardous-substance emergency often involves the clean-up of residual hazardous substances. This is frequently done by labourers. In some jurisdictions, health and safety regulations mandate that such workers receive specialized training in hazardous-material response and participate in a programme of medical surveillance. These employees may be at a greater risk of exposure since clean-up operations can involve close contact with the hazardous materials. Other occupations at risk of chemical exposure from hazardous-substance emergencies are emergency heath-care providers including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency room medical staff and other hospital personnel.
The potential hazards associated with a hazardous-substance emergency are incident specific and can include chemical, radiological and biological hazards. These agents can be gases or vapours, aerosols including mists, fumes, dusts or particulates, solids and/or liquids. The potential hazards faced by hazardous-substance response personnel depend on the exposure potential of the agent, reactivity (flammability, explosivity and so on) and toxicity potential.
Information regarding the type of agents involved in hazardous-substance emergencies is available in the United States from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system. The HSEES system is an active surveillance system which tracks incidents that have a public-health impact (Hall et al. 1994). The HSEES system was developed because of reported deficiencies in other national US systems that track releases of hazardous substances (Binder 1989). HSEES does not identify all releases since limited spills at fixed-site facilities are not recorded. The registry was established in 1990 and initially involved five states, but has grown to include eleven states. In 1993 HSEES recorded 3,945 hazardous-substances emergencies. Other countries and states also have systems that record hazardous-material events (Winder et al. 1992).
HSEES data summarizing the types of chemical substances released during hazardous substance emergencies including those associated with personnel injuries, during the two-year period 1990–1992 showed that the most common chemical classes of substances released were volatile organic compounds, herbicides, acids and ammonia. The greatest risk of developing an injury occurred during incidents involving cyanides, insecticides, chlorine, acids and bases. During 1990–1992, 93% of the incidents involved the release of only one chemical, and 84% of the releases occurred at fixed-site facilities.
Hazardous-substance personnel face several distinct types of acute health threats. The first category of health threat relates to the toxicity potential of the agent as well as potential contact with blood and other body fluids of incident victims. The second threat is the risk of sustaining major physical trauma including burns associated with an explosion and/or fire from an unexpected chemical reaction, or with structural collapse of a building or container. The third type of acute health effect is risk of heat stress or exhaustion associated with performing heavy work, often in chemical protective clothing, which impairs the body’s efficiency of evaporative cooling. Employees with pre-existing health problems such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, disorders of consciousness, or those who take medications that may impair heat exchange or cardiorespiratory response to exercise, are at additional risk when performing such arduous work.
There is limited information concerning the health outcomes of hazardous-substance personnel responding to hazardous-substance emergencies. The HSEES registry indicated that for 1990 to 1992, 467, or 15%, of 4,034 emergency response events resulted in 446 injuries. Two hundred of the injured persons were classified as first responders, including fire-fighters, law-enforcement personnel, emergency medical response personnel and HAZMAT team members. Nearly one-quarter of first responders (22%) did not utilize any type of personal protective equipment.
The principle reported health effects among all persons sustaining injuries included respiratory irritation (37.3%), eye irritation (22.8%) and nausea (8.9%). Chemical burns were reported in 6.1% of those injured. Heat stress was reported in 2%. Eleven deaths were recorded, including one in a first responder. The causes of death among the entire group were reported as trauma, chemical burns, asphyxiation, thermal burns, heat stress and cardiac arrest. Other reports have suggested that first responders are at risk of being injured in acute responses.
The health risks associated with chronic exposures to a wide array of hazardous-materials incidents have not been characterized. Epidemiological studies have not been completed of HAZMAT team members. Epidemiological studies of fire-fighters who perform first response activities at fire scenes have revealed that they may be at greater risk of developing several types of malignancies (see the article “Firefighting hazards” in this chapter).
Several measures can reduce the incident of hazardous-substance emergencies. These are described in figure 1. First, prevention through the adoption and enforcement of regulations involving production, storage, transportation and use of hazardous substances can lessen the potential for unsafe work practices. Training of employees in proper workplace practices and hazard management is critical in preventing accidents.
Figure 1. Preventive guidelines.
Second, proper management and supervision of the incident can lessen the impact of an incident. The management of the activities of the first responders and clean-up workers by the incident commander is critical. There must be supervision and evaluation of the progress of the emergency response to ensure that the response objectives are being met safely, effectively and efficiently.
The third measure includes health-related actions that are taken during and after an incident. These actions include the provision of appropriate first aid at the scene and proper decontamination procedures. Failure to properly decontaminate a victim may result in ongoing absorption of the hazardous agent and place the HAZMAT or medical staff at risk of exposure from direct patient contact (Cox 1994). Medical personnel should also be trained regarding specific treatment and personal protective measures for unusual chemical events.
Participation in a medical surveillance programme by workers is a measure that can be utilized to prevent health problems among hazardous-response personnel. Medical surveillance can potentially detect conditions at an early stage before significant adverse health effects have occurred in workers. In addition, medical conditions which may place employees at significantly greater risk from performing the work, such as cardiovascular disease, can be identified and monitored. Sensory impairments that can interfere with field communications, including hearing and vision defects, can also be identified to determine whether they would pose a significant threat during hazardous emergency response.
Most of the identified preventive measures are based upon community awareness of local hazards. Implementation of hazardous-substance emergency plans by adequately trained staff and the wise allocation of resources are imperative. Community awareness of hazards includes informing communities of hazardous materials which are at fixed facilities or materials that are being transported through a community (e.g., by road, rail, airport or water). This information should enable fire departments and other agencies to plan for emergency incidents. Fixed facilities and transporters of hazardous materials should also have individual response plans developed that include specific provisions for notification of public agencies in a timely manner. Emergency medical personnel should have the necessary knowledge of the potential hazards in their local community. Trained medical staff should be available to provide appropriate treatment and diagnosis for the symptoms, signs and specific treatment recommendations for hazardous substances in their communities. Fixed site facilities should establish liaisons with local emergency departments and inform them of potential hazards in the workplace and the need for special supplies or mediations needed to manage potential incidents at these facilities. Planning and training should help enhance the provision of appropriate medical care and decrease the number of injuries and deaths from incidents.
The potential also exists for hazardous-substance emergencies to occur as a result of a natural disaster such as floods, earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, winds or severe storms. Although the number of such events appears to be increasing, planning and preparation for these potential emergencies is very limited (Showalter and Myers 1994). Planning efforts need to include natural causes of emergency incidents.
The production of television and radio broadcasts involves camera shoots and recordings on location and in the studio, video- and audiotape editing, transmitting and receiving broadcasts, managing electronic information and graphics, and maintenance of equipment and tape. Broadcast engineers and technicians produce pre-taped and live broadcasts for major network and cable companies, local stations and production companies. Major occupations include: camera operator, sound person, tape editor, computer operator, maintenance engineer, news broadcaster and other television and radio artists.
Broadcasting and its support activities can take place in remote locations, in the studio or in various maintenance and specialty shops. Employees can be exposed to many hazards typical of the technological workplace, including poor indoor air quality, poor workplace design and low-frequency electromagnetic radiation (since microwave technology is used to transmit and receive broadcasts, and the density of electronic equipment produces relatively high levels of low-frequency energy fields). Proper shielding and placement of equipment are prudent measures to protect operators from these fields.
Hazards and Precautions
Roving camera and audio crews cover news and special events for networks and local stations. Crews carry to the site everything needed for the broadcast, including camera, sound recorder, lights, tripod and electrical cords. Since the advent of lightweight cameras equipped with sound recorders, a single person may be assigned to operate the equipment. The hazards can include trips, slips and falls and musculoskeletal stress. Violence in riots and wars can lead to injuries and fatalities. Bad weather, crowds, environmental disasters and rough terrain increase the potential for serious injuries and illnesses among the crew.
The danger can be reduced through assessing the location for the potential for violence and the securing of safe operating locations. Personal protective equipment, such as bullet-proof vests and helmets, may also be needed. Adequate staffing and material-handling equipment and safe lifting practices can reduce musculoskeletal stresses.
News and traffic reports are frequently recorded or aired from helicopters. Broadcast personnel have been killed and injured in crashes and unplanned landings. Strict adherence to proper training and certification of pilots, preventive maintenance of equipment and prohibition of unsafe flying practices (such as flying too close to other helicopters or to structures) are crucial for protecting these employees. See the article “Heliocopters” elsewhere in this volume.
Sporting events, such as golf tournaments and car races, and other special events are often shot from elevated platforms and scaffolds. Motorized lifts and cranes are also used to position equipment and personnel. These structures and machines are typical of those used in general building construction and motion picture production, and one may encounter the same hazards, such as falling off the structure, being struck by falling objects, being struck by lightning in open areas and being electrocuted from contact with overhead power lines and live electrical equipment.
Proper inspection and erection of platforms, full guardrails with toe boards to prevent objects from falling, access ladders, grounding and guarding of electrical equipment and observance of weather alerts, as in construction work, are some appropriate precautions to be taken.
Studio productions have the advantages of familiar surroundings where employees operate cameras, sound equipment and special effects equipment. The hazards are similar to those described in motion picture production and include: musculoskeletal stresses, electrical hazards, noise (especially in rock radio studios) and exposure to theatrical smokes and fogs. Appropriate ergonomic design of work spaces and equipment, electrical safeguards, control of sound levels, careful selection of smokes and fogs and adequate ventilation are all possible preventive measures.
Film editing, handling and storage
Before being broadcast, video- and audiotapes must be edited. The conditions will depend on the size of the facility, but it is not uncommon for several editing operations to be going on at the same time. Editing work requires close attention to the material, and editing rooms can be noisy, overcrowded and poorly lit, with poor indoor air quality and electrical hazards. The space and the equipment can have poor ergonomic design; tasks may be repetitive. There may be noise and fire hazards. Proper workspace design including space, lighting and ventilation, soundproofing and electrical safeguards are all necessary. Special inspection and handling procedures are required for old film storage. Some production companies have libraries that contain old cellulose nitrate (nitrocellulose) films. These films are no longer made, but those that are in storage are severe fire and life hazards. Nitrocellulose can combust and explode readily.
Computer graphics are common in taped programmes and require long hours at visual display units. Working conditions vary based on the size and layout of the facility. Workspace design requirements are similar to other computer workstations.
Technicians and engineers maintain cameras, recorders, editing machines and other broadcasting equipment, and their working conditions resemble those of their industrial counterparts. Low-residue organic solvents, such as freons, acetone, methanol, methyl ethyl ketone and methylene chloride are used to clean electronic parts and electrical contacts. Metal components are repaired using welding, soldering and power tools. The hazards can include inhalation of solvent vapours and metal fumes, skin contact with solvents, fire and machine hazards. The substitution of safer materials, local exhaust ventilation for solvent vapours and fumes from welding and soldering, as well as machine guards, are all possible safeguards.
Journalism is one of the romantic professions, but it is also one of the most dangerous. Between 1990 and 1997 more than 500 journalists and media workers were killed, many the victims of gangsters, paramilitary groups and terrorists. Each year, hundreds of reporters and writers are injured, both physically and psychologically, by the horrors of war and social conflict. See figure 1.
Figure 1. Algiers, Algeria, 11 February 1996: The devastated offices of Le Soir, one of three newspapers hit by a terrorist car bomb.
The tendency to try to manipulate or control information is becoming more evident as the speed and range of communication increases. Today information speeds around the world in seconds thanks to satellite technology. News and information can be beamed into people’s homes as it happens.
Consequently, journalists and their visible helpers—camera and technical staff, for instance—pose a threat to any group, official or otherwise, that wants to avoid public scrutiny. This leads to specific and targeted attacks on journalists and media organizations.
The problem of “censorship by violence” is exacerbated by the nature of commercial competition in the media industry and by unregulated patterns of employment. Media networks compete vigorously for market share, and this is leading to greater pressure on journalists to provide ever more dramatic and sensationalist images and reportage. Many media people are taking greater risks than before.
The situation is made worse because few media organizations provide training for their staff in how to deal with situations of violence and conflict. Such training is essential. Media staff need to be able to make coherent and sensible “risk assessment” judgements about fast-moving reporting situations. They need a basic knowledge of first aid and advice from media veterans on how to report from dangerous scenes.
The most vulnerable group of media workers—freelance journalists and casual staff—are the ones least likely to receive training even where it is available. More freelance staff are employed than ever before and many of them are hired from the regions where the reported action is taking place. Sometimes they are hired without any life or health insurance. If they get hurt, they are not entitled to compensation.
Because they often work in very unpredictable circumstances, some journalists will always be at risk. Often it will be impossible to avoid injury, even death. But much more can be done to minimize the levels of risk. For instance, in Algeria, where some 60 journalists were assassinated between June 1994 and March 1996, journalists’ unions, employers and the authorities have combined their efforts to minimize risks.
Much more needs to be done by media organizations and representatives of media workers and journalists to provide protections for media personnel. In particular there is a need for:
In addition, media organizations must reverse recent trends that undermine the social and professional conditions in which journalists work. There should be increased investment in professional training and journalistic ethics to emphasize the importance of investigative journalism to the good health of democratic society.
Journalists themselves have a key role to play. All journalists must take responsibility to exercise the highest standards of personal safety and minimize risks to themselves and their colleagues. Journalists need to maintain the highest professional standards and conduct and should not compromise the ethics of journalism in any aspect of the gathering, production or dissemination of news and information.
But it is not only the professionals that need to take practical steps to address the issue. Governments, which have a responsibility to protect the lives and security of citizens, must ensure that journalists and media organizations are provided with the maximum security and protection from violence.
Government and public authorities must not regard journalists as part of the state security apparatus and must not demand information or materials from media organizations in order to assist inquiries which are the responsibility of official agencies.
One of the worrying features of journalism has always been that governments are prepared to use the cover of journalistic activity in order to carry out surveillance and espionage. It is a practice which exposes all travelling journalists to suspicion and intimidation.
The key is to reduce the risk. There are no absolute guarantees of safety, but governments, journalists and media organizations need to avoid creating the conditions which make it easier to commit violence against media. A starting point would be recognition that no single story, no matter how dramatic, is worth a life.
Museums and art galleries are a popular source of entertainment and education for the general public. There are many different types of museums, such as art, history, science, natural history and children’s museums. The exhibits, lectures and publications offered to the public by museums, however, are only one part of the function of museums. The broad mission of museums and art galleries is to collect, conserve, study and display items of artistic, historical, scientific or cultural importance. Supportive research (fieldwork, literary and laboratory) and behind-the-scenes collection care typically represent the largest proportion of work activities. Collections on display generally represent a small fraction of the total acquisitions of the museum or gallery, with the remainder in on-site storage or on loan to other exhibits or research projects. Museums and galleries may be stand-alone entities or affiliated with larger institutions such as universities, government agencies, armed services installations, park service historic sites or even specific industries.
A museum’s operations can be divided into several main functions: general building operations, exhibit and display production, educational activities, collection management (including field studies) and conservation. Occupations, which may overlap depending on size of staff, include building maintenance trades and custodians, carpenters, curators, illustrators and artists, librarians and educators, scientific researchers, specialized shipping and receiving and security.
General Building Operations
The operation of museums and galleries poses potential safety and health hazards both common to other occupations and unique to museums. As buildings, museums are subject to poor indoor air quality and to risks associated with maintenance, repair, custodial and security activities of large public buildings. Fire prevention systems are critical to protect the lives of staff and a multitude of visitors, as well as the priceless collections.
General tasks involve custodians; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) specialists and boiler engineers; painters; electricians; plumbers; welders; and machinists. Safety hazards include slips, trips and falls; back and limb strains; electrical shock; and fires and explosions from compressed gas cylinders or hot work. Health hazards include exposures to hazardous materials, noise, metal fumes, flux fumes and gases, and ultraviolet radiation; and dermatitis from cutting oils, solvents, epoxies and plasticizers. Custodial staff are exposed to splash hazards from diluting cleaning chemicals, chemical reactions from improperly mixed chemicals, dermatitis, inhalation hazards from dry sweeping of lead paint chips or residual preservative chemicals in collection storage areas, injury from broken laboratory glassware or working around sensitive laboratory chemicals and equipment, and biological hazards from cleaning building exteriors of bird debris.
Older buildings are prone to mould and mildew growth and poor indoor air quality. They often lack exterior wall vapour barriers and have air handling systems which are old and difficult to maintain. Renovation may lead to uncovering material hazards in both centuries-old buildings and modern ones. Lead paints, mercury linings on old mirrored surfaces and asbestos in decorative finishes and insulation are some examples. With historic buildings, the need to preserve historic integrity must be balanced against design requirements of life safety codes and accommodations for persons with disabilities. Exhaust ventilation system installations should not destroy historic facades. Rooflines or skyline restrictions in historic districts may pose serious challenges to construction of exhaust stacks with sufficient height. Barriers used to separate construction areas often must be free-standing units that cannot be attached to walls that have historic features. Renovation should not mar underlying supports which may consist of valuable wood or finishes. These restrictions may lead to increased dangers. Fire detection and suppression systems and fire-rated construction are essential.
Precautions include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for eyes, face, head, hearing and respiration; electrical safety; machine guards and lock-out/tag-out programmes; good housekeeping; compatible hazardous material storage and secure compressed gas cylinders; fire detection and suppression systems; dust collectors, local exhaust and use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum cleaners; safe lifting and material handling training; fork-lift safety; use of hoists, slings and hydraulic lifts; chemical spill control; safety showers and eye washes; first aid kits; and hazard communication and employee training programmes in hazards of materials and jobs (particularly for custodians in laboratories) and means for protection.
Exhibit and Display Production
The production and installation of museum exhibits and displays can involve a wide range of activities. For example, an animal exhibit in a natural history museum could involve the production of display cases; the construction of a reproduction of the animal’s natural habitat; the fabrication of the animal model itself; written, oral and illustrated materials to accompany the exhibit; appropriate lighting; and more. Processes involved in the exhibit production can include: carpentry; metalworking; working with plastics, plastics resins and many other materials; graphic arts; and photography.
Exhibit fabrication and graphics shops share similar risks with general woodworkers, sculptors, graphic artists, metalworkers and photographers. Specific health or safety risks may arise from installation of exhibits in halls without adequate ventilation, cleaning of display cases containing residues of hazardous treatment materials, formaldehyde exposure during photography set-up of fluid collection specimens and high-speed cutting of wood treated with fire retardant, which may liberate irritating acid gases (oxides of sulphur, phosphorus).
Precautions include appropriate personal protective equipment, acoustic treatment and local exhaust controls on woodworking machinery; adequate ventilation for graphics tables, silkscreen wash booths, paint-mixing areas, plastics resin areas, and photo development; and use of water-based ink systems.
Museum educational activities can include lectures, distribution of publications, hands-on arts and science activities and more. These can be directed either towards adults or children. Arts and science activities can often involve use of toxic chemicals in rooms not equipped with proper ventilation and other precautions, handling arsenic-preserved stuffed birds and animals, electrical equipment and more. Safety risks may exist for both museum education staff and participants, particularly children. Such programmes should be evaluated to determine what types of precautions are needed and whether they can be done safely in the museum setting.
Art and Artefact Collections Management
Collections management involves field collection or acquisition, inventory control, proper storage techniques, preservation and pest management. Fieldwork can involve digging on archaeological expeditions, preserving botanical, insect and other specimens, making casts of specimens, drilling fossil rocks and more. The duties of curatorial staff in the museum include handling the specimens, examining them with a variety of techniques (e.g., microscopy, x ray), pest management, preparing them for exhibits and handling travelling exhibitions.
Hazards can occur at all stages of collections management, including those associated with field work, hazards inherent in the handling of the object or specimen itself, residues of old preservation or fumigation methods (which may not have been well documented by the original collector) and hazards associated with pesticide and fumigant application. Table 1 gives the hazards and precautions associated with some of these operations.
Table 1. Hazards and precautions of collection management processes.
Hazards and precautions
Field work and handling of specimens
Ergonomic injuries from repetitive drilling on fossil rock and heavy lifting; biohazards from surface cleaning of bird debris, allergic response (pulmonary and dermal) from insect frass, handling both living and dead specimens, particularly birds and mammals (plaque, Hanta virus) and other diseased tissues; and chemical hazards from preserving media.
Precautions include ergonomic controls; HEPA vacuums for control of detritus allergens, insect eggs, larvae; universal precautions for avoiding staff exposure to animal disease agents;.and adequate ventilation or respiratory protection when handling hazardous preserving agents.
Taxidermy and osteological preparation
Health hazards in the preparation of skins, whole mounts and skeletal specimens, and in the cleaning and restoration of older mounts, arise from exposure to solvents and degreasers used to clean skins and skeletal remains (after maceration); residual preservatives, especially arsenic (internal and external applications); osteological preparation (ammonium hydroxide, solvents, degreasers); formaldehyde for preserving organ parts after autopsy (or necropsy); frass allergens; contact with diseased specimens; asbestos-plaster in old mounts. Safety and fire risks include heavy lifting strains; injury from use of power tools, knives or sharps on specimens; and use of flammable or combustible mixtures.
Precautions include local exhaust ventilation; respirators, gloves, aprons; use of brushes and HEPA vacuums to clean fur and rearrange nap instead of low-pressure compressed air or vigorous brushing alone; and use of disinfectants in necropsy and other handling areas. Check with local environmental authority on current approval status for taxidermy and preservation chemical applications.
Illustrators and microscopic examinations by curators and their technicians
Exposure to hazardous storage media at close range and xylene, alcohols, formaldehyde/glutaraldehyde and osmium tetroxide used in histology (sectioning, staining, slide mounting) for scanning and transmission electron microscopy.
See laboratory research for appropriate precautions.
Fumigant and pesticide use
Insect damage to collections cannot be tolerated, but indiscriminate use of chemicals can have adverse side effects on staff health and collections. Integrated pest management (IPM) programmes are now utilized as practical means for pest control while reducing health and collection risks. Commonly used chemical pesticides and fumigants (many now banned or restricted) include(d): DDT, naphthalene, PDB, dichlorvos, ethylene oxide, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene dichloride, methyl bromide and sulphuryl fluoride. Many have poor warning properties, are extremely toxic or lethal to humans at low concentrations and should be applied by professional, licensed exterminators or fumigators offsite or outside occupied areas. All require complete airing in a well-ventilated area to remove all off-gassing products from porous collection materials.
Precautions include PPE, respirator, ventilation, splash protection, medical surveillance, HEPA vacuums, regulatory licensing for applicators and air sampling before reentry into fumigated spaces.
Hazardous tasks involve molecular systematics; DNA research and general storage of living cells and tissue cultures (growth media); DMSO, radioactive isotopes, a wide variety of solvents, acids, ethyl ether; cryogenic liquids for freeze-drying (nitrogen, etc.); and use of benzidine-based dyes.
Precautions include cryogenic protection (gloves, face shields, aprons, well-ventilated areas, safety relief valves, systems for high-pressure transport and storage), biosafety cabinets, radiation laboratory hoods and respirators, local exhaust enclosures for weighing and microscope stations; clean benches with HEPA-grade filters, gloves and lab coats, eye protection, HEPA vacuums for control of detritus allergens, insect eggs, larvae; and universal precautions for avoiding laboratory and custodial staff exposure to animal disease agents.
Shipping, receiving and preparing of loaned collections for exhibitions
Exposure to unknown storage media and potentially hazardous shipping material (e.g., crates lined with asbestos paper) from countries without stringent environmental reporting requirements.
Precautions include appropriate hazard warnings on outgoing loaned exhibitions, and ensuring that incoming exhibition documents stipulate contents.
There are also hazards associated with the collection objects themselves. Wet collections in general have the following risks: exposure to formaldehyde used for field-fixing and permanent storage; sorting specimens from formaldehyde to alcohol storage (usually ethanol or isopropanol); and “mystery liquids” on incoming loans. Dry collections in general have the following risks: residual particulate preservatives, such as arsenic trioxide, mercuric chloride, strychnine and DDT; and vaporizing compounds leaving residues or recrystallization, such as dichlorvos/vapona pest strips, paradichlorobenzene (PDB) and naphthalene. See table 2 for a list of many of the particular hazards found in collection management. This table also includes hazards associated with conservation of these specimens.
Table 2. Hazards of collection objects.
Source of hazard
Botanicals, vertebrates and invertebrates
Storage media containing formaldehyde, acetic acid, alcohol, formaldehyde used in field fixing, sorting to alcohol storage, mercuric chloride on dry-mounted plant specimens, arsenic- and mercury-preserved birds and mammals, dry-mount adhesives; insect frass allergens.
Decorative arts, ceramics, stone and metal
Pigments or preservatives may contain mercury. Silver- or gold-plated objects may have cyanide bound into finish (which can be liberated by water-washing). Celluloid objects (French ivory) are fire hazards. Fiesta-ware and enamel jewellery may contain radioactive uranium pigments.
Naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene (PDB) exposures while replenishing storage drawers or observing specimens; field collection bottle preparations using cyanide salts.
The furniture may have been treated with pentachlorophenol-containing wood preservatives, lead and other toxic pigments. Cleaning and restoration may involve treatment with mineral spirits, methylene chloride paint strippers, varnishes and lacquers.
Radioactive specimens, natural ores of high-toxicity metals and minerals (lead/asbestiform), noise from section preparations, epoxies for slide/section preparation.
Old pharmaceuticals in medical, dental and veterinary collections (which may have degraded, are illegal substances or have converted into reactive or explosive compounds); gunpowder, firearms; carbon tetrachloride in nineteenth- and twentieth-century fire-extinguishing devices; vehicle battery acid; PCBs in transformers, capacitors and other electrical collections; mercury felts in static generators, lighthouses and science collections; asbestos from plasters in trophy mounts, casts and a variety of household appliances, ceramic glazes, wiring and textiles.
Paintings, print and paper
These may contain high-toxicity pigments of lead (white flake, white lead, chrome yellow), cadmium, chromium (carcinogenic in chromate form), cobalt (particularly cobalt violet or cobalt arsenate), manganese and mercury. Cyanide may be present in some printers’ inks and in old (nineteenth century) wallpapers; mercury was added to some paintings and fabrics as mildew prevention; lampblack and coal tar dyes are carcinogenic. Cleaning and restoration of these materials can involve the use of solvents, varnishes, lacquers, chlorine dioxide bleaches and more.
Ergonomic and health risks from fossil preparation involving drilling or chipping rock matrix containing free crystalline silica, asbestos or radioactive ore; epoxies and liquid plastics for fossil casts; noise; solvents and acids for rock digestion (hydrofluoric most hazardous).
Nitrocellulose film has the risk of spontaneous combustion, and nitric acid burns from decomposing film. It should be copied to modern film. Selenium toning restoration can involve hazards of selenium and sulphur dioxide exposure, and requires adequate ventilation.
Lead and cadmium surface paint, arsenic-treated felt gaskets and asbestos insulation render cases difficult to dispose of. Residues and chips containing these substances pose hazards during interior and exterior case cleaning; vacuum debris may be considered hazardous waste.
Hazards include dyes (particularly benzidine based), fibre levels, arsenic for lace and other component preservation, mercury for felt treatment; poisonous plant materials used for clothing decorations; mould, mildew, allergens from insect parts and excrement (frass).
Occupational health and safety considerations are similar to those of general industry. Precautions include occupational maintenance of a good inventory of collection treatment methods, personal protective equipment, including vinyl (not latex) gloves for dry specimen handling, and impervious gloves and splash protection for liquids. Medical surveillance with regard to general and reproductive hazards; good hygiene practices—lab coats and work clothes laundered separately from family clothes (or best at work in a dedicated washer); avoidance of dry sweeping (use HEPA vacuum cleaners); avoiding water-trap vacuum cleaners on suspect collections; proper hazardous waste disposal methods; and chemical hazard information training for staff are some examples.
Conservation work, often in full-scale laboratories, involves the cleaning and restoration (by chemical or physical means) of items such as paintings, paper, photographs, books, manuscripts, stamps, furniture, textiles, ceramics and glass, metals, stone, musical instruments, uniforms and costumes, leather, baskets, masks and other ethnographic objects. Hazards unique to conservation range from highly intermittent exposures to dropper-size amounts of restoration chemicals, to potentially heavy exposures when using large quantities of chemicals to treat statuary or large vertebrate specimens. Ergonomic injuries are possible from awkward hand-and-brush positions over painting or statuary restoration work, and heavy lifting. A wide variety of solvents and other chemicals are used in cleaning and restoration of collection objects. Many of the techniques used for the restoration of damaged artwork, for example, are the same, and involve the same hazards and precautions as those of the original art process. Hazards also arise from the composition and finish of the object itself, as described in table 2. For precautions see the previous section.