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Measuring the Working Environment Hazards

Viimati uuendatud: 15.10.2019


Measuring the Working Environment Hazards

For many hazards it is known in which extent they are harmful to health. Other factors appear in the working environment only periodically; thus, the singular factor mapping might not often suffice. The best solution would be to monitor the factors (constant surveillance during a certain time period). It could be complicated but still feasible for many hazard factors, and not always extremely expensive.

Sometimes, the effect becomes evident only then, when the employee’s organism has received a certain dose from contact with the hazard. In this case, it is wiser to measure the dose that the employee has received. The most common method, for employees who come in contact with ionizing radiation, are radiation monitors that change their colour depending on the total radiation or the received radiation dose. The dose of several chemicals (chemicals that exit the organism very slowly and could build up and have an effect) can be determined in a similar way. It is also possible to measure the noise affecting the employees. Monitoring is justified by the fact that a single measurement in a certain part of the room might not comprise all workplaces (rooms) nor all work stages. Thus, there is a danger that some events and accompanying factors are not properly evaluated. It is also possible that other factors occurred accidentally only during the measuring, which could make them over-estimated.

In general, measurements are objective – but only if the measuring methodology is precisely described and strictly followed. According to the Metrology Act, results must be proven and traceable – meaning that a measuring carried out like described in the measuring protocol will always give an identical result (within the admissible deviation). Therefore, both measuring (that presupposes familiarity with the phenomenon and measurement devices and methodologies) and recording the results requires competence. The practice that “if there is a device, anyone can do the measurements” cannot be considered sensible. Often, the device is not that important as it is to know and follow the procedure rules.

Find your working environment measurer among the service providers.

Sometimes, the workplace factors can be measured indirectly. The easiest example here is chronometry where the number of certain movements in a certain time period are counted – even though the aim is to evaluate the workload on certain muscles.

The following list of explanations help to “measure” whether a sitting (as most people work on a computer) working position could become a problem or not.

  • Head position in regard to the monitor (the observable object) should be effortless and upwards, or slightly tilted forwards. The upper edge of the screen should be at the height of the eyes if the employee is sitting in the most comfortable position (almost lying is not good for the body!). In this position, the best visual angle centre (about 15° below the horizontal line on the height of the eyes) coincides with the middle of the screen. When looking at the keyboard and documents on the desk, the      head is slightly tilted and the keyboard should be lower than described above. It should be well-known that the monitor must be placed directly in front of the employee. Even a few hours of work where the employee must keep the head turned one way or the other, has a tiring effect and pain in the neck muscles will appear at the end of the first (or the second) workday.
  • The most comfortable position for hands is as follows: the humerus  hangs freely, angle between the humerus and radius is obtuse or, at the  maximum, full. So, the keyboard and mouse should be ~10 cm lower from the elbow of a freely hanging hand. The desk that is also used for writing should be ~10-15 cm higher from the elbow of a freely hanging hand because      the hand should rest on the table while writing. When this desk is also used for working at the computer in parallel, it should be equipped with a keyboard drawer. The keyboard and mouse must both fit on the keyboard drawer as they both must always be on the same level.
  • The chair must enable to sit comfortably: a) soles of feet lie completely on the floor, while b) thigh and shin form an obtuse angle, while c) the back rest supports the back comfortably and allows a certain position change – has an adjustable tilt and height. Adjustable seating height alone does not guarantee the correct sitting position: adjusting the chair into an extremely high or extremely low position that does give hands the correct position in regard to the desk surface simultaneously rules out the comfortable position of feet.

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