The Greatest Risk of Glass Manufacturing
There are inherent risks across all industries and all jobs within those industries. The exposures for each job vary in their amount of risk and there are some risks that are minor and some that are a lot more serious with the potential to do a lot more harm. Whether that harm is done to property or a worker, the need to mitigate larger risks is very important.
In the glass manufacturing class of business, there are certain risks that can fall under the category of minor. These minor risks include exposures like ergonomic hazards (straining one’s back, arms, or legs due to working in awkward positions for extended periods of time) and minor burns from standing too close to a furnace and getting skin reddening not uncommon from a sunburn in the summer months.
Lesser risks are important to mitigate, but the larger exposures are what workers really need to mitigate, because these can lead to injuries much worse than a burn or some back pain.
The greatest risk to mitigate in glass manufacturing is air pollutants and contamination. Air contamination during the melting and blowing of glass represents one of the greatest threats to worker health:
Some gases that are released by the combustion of propane and oxygen include mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO), and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). NOx gases can cause flu-like symptoms at low levels, and death at extremely high levels. The typical symptom of having been exposed to too many mono-nitrogen oxides is a metallic taste in your mouth accompanied by a headache and breathing difficulties. Mono-nitrogen oxide exposure can, in extreme cases, lead to death.
Carbon monoxide is not detectable by humans at dangerous levels. It is produced in reducing-flames produced by torches. A carbon monoxide detector with a digital readout is a good idea since the gas is colorless and odorless. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are a headache that gets gradually worse with more exposure. If ignored, the headache will evolve into drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and eventually death.
Due to the obvious danger of the gases released during the process of melting down and molding glass, mitigating these risks is a must to keep workers healthy. A fume head is essential in any glass blowing operation and it must be inspected regularly to ensure it’s doing its job in ventilating toxic fumes. Also, harmful gas detectors should be placed all around the work areas to alarm workers when the air has become unsafe to breathe.
Risk management is essential across the entire spectrum of exposures that glass workers come in contact with every day. However, the larger and more hazardous risks require special attention in order to prevent disastrous damage, illness, or injury.
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