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Fregoso, Mara Teresa
Salud ocupacional en la Fbrica de Quesos de Productores de Monteverde
Occupational health in the Productores de Monteverde cheese factory
An occupational risk assessment of the Monteverde Cheese Factory.
Una evaluacin de los riesgos profesionales de la Fbrica de Quesos de Monteverde.
Our group was asked to do a basic risk assessment of the Productores de Monteverde, S.A. (cheese factory) to identify occupational risks and make recommendations for a safer work environment. We did observations of five areas in the plant: milk receiving, main plant, warehouse, offices and maintenance areas from July 2 to July 28, 2002. We also asked workers to fill out a questionnaire asking about their perceptions of work training, risks and possible solutions to workplace hazards. Along with the questionnaires, we did sixteen informal interviews asking workers how they felt about work safety at the factory. We found a variety of risks including blocked emergency exits and slippery floors. Workers identified many of the same risks in their questionnaires and interviews that we were also able to observe. From the data we received, we were able to make recommendations for the risks and label them as high or low. Our goal was to provide a report that would act as a stepping-stone for future change in occupational health at the cheese factory.
Nuestro grupo fue solicitado para hacer una valoracin bsica de los riesgos en productores de Monteverde S.A. (la fbrica de quesos), para identificar los riesgos ocupacionales y hacer las recomendaciones para un ambiente de trabajo ms seguro. Hicimos observaciones de cinco reas dentro de las instalaciones de la planta: el recibidor de leche, la planta principal, la bodega, las oficinas y las reas de mantenimiento, en el plazo comprendido del 2 al 28 de julio del 2002. Pedimos, adems, a los trabajadores que nos llenaran los cuestionarios sobre sus percepciones acerca del entrenamiento en el trabajo, los riesgos y las posibles soluciones a los mismos en su lugar de trabajo. Tambin hicimos 16 entrevistas informales preguntando a los trabajadores como se sentan con respecto a su seguridad en su lugar de trabajo. Encontramos una variedad de riesgos incluyendo el bloqueo de las salidas de emergencias y suelos muy resbalosos. Los trabajadores identificaron muchos de los riesgos que nosotros observamos en los cuestionarios y entrevistas. De los datos que nosotros recogimos pudimos hacer algunas recomendaciones calificando los riesgos desde altos hasta bajos. Nuestro objetivo fue proveer un informe
Industrial safety--Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde
Monteverde Cheese Factory
Community Health 2002
Rodrguez Ayala, Idalia Aracely
Scanned by Monteverde Institute
t Community Health
Occupational Health in the Productores de Monteverde Cheese Factory Mara Teresa Fregoso Idalia Aracely Rodr guez Ayala Nancy Romano Globalization and Health Monteverde Institute June 23rd to August 4th, 2002
Abstract Our group was asked to do a basic risk assessment of the Productores de Monteverde, S.A. (cheese factory) to identify occupational risks and make recommendations for a safer work environment. We did observations of five areas in the plant: milk receiving, main plant, warehouse, offices and maintenance areas from July 2 to July 28, 2002. We also asked workers to fill out a questionnaire asking about their perceptions of work training, risks and possible solutions to workplace hazards. Along with the questionnaires, we did sixteen informal interviews asking workers how they felt about work safety at the factory We found a variety of risks including blocked emergency exits and slippery floors. Workers identified many of the same risks in their questionnaires and interviews that we were also able to observe. From the data we received, we were able to make recomme ndations for the risks and label them as high or low. Our goal was to provide a report that would act as a stepping stone for future change in occupational health at the cheese factory. Personal Biography of the Team Mara Teresa Fregoso is a graduate student in anthropology with a concentration in Latin American and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Idalia Aracely Rodriguez Ayala is a graduate student in physical anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Nancy Rom ano is an undergraduate history major at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The three decided to do the project at the request of the cheese factory and the Monteverde Institute Introduction The Monteverde Cheese Factory was founded in 1953 by eleven Quaker families from Alabama who moved to the area to live in accordance with their beliefs. The idea of making an aged cheese arose out of a need to be able to sell a product in other locations other than Monteverde. The original creators o f the factory wanted the factory to be a cooperative, but since this was impossible at the time, there were five official original founders and owners. Today, over five hundred people own shares in the company. The requirements for owning shares that the p erson must produce milk for the factory, live in Monteverde, or work for the company. Sixteen different types of cheese are produced with 30,000 40,000 kg. of milk delivered daily by 270 milk producers. The milk zone is a range of 50km and the milk is deli vered to the factory between 6:30 11:00 a.m. every morning. The machinery used in the factory is of 1978 vintage from Wisconsin. The factory employs 103 workers in the industrial, administrative, pig farm and sales portion of the factory. Four years ago, a pig farm was established to use the whey produced as a byproduct of the cheese making process. The workers work an average of thirteen hours a day. The factory has been concerned with the health and safety of their workers as evident in their formation of a safety committee in 1999. The committee consists of five people, two from management and three plant workers. Workers select workers and management selects people from managerial positions. Every two years the committee changes, however, the committee has been inactive in the past year. The company realizes this and has been trying to find new ideas to improve the health of their employees. Our group was one solution to help provide ideas for improvement in occupational health (personal conversation, R afael Vargas on 7/16/02 at the Monteverde Cheese Factory, Monteverde).
Occupational health consists of six areas of potential hazards: chemical, physical, biological, traumatic, psychosocial, and sexual harassment. Biological hazards consist of infectious diseases. Physical hazards include radiation and temperature changes. Traumatic hazards include repetitive motion, lifting, machinery, and falls. Psychological risks include stress. The purpose of an occupational risk assessment is to investigate the workp lace in order to make recommendations about events and actions that can negatively affect health (Lecture 7/12/02 with Lorraine Conroy at the Monteverde Institute, Monteverde). Research Methods Collection site and subjects Data on occupational risks were c ollected from Productores de Monteverde, S.A., Monteverde de Puntarenas. Occupational risk assessments were conducted in several areas of the factory including: milk receiving, production, maintenance, warehouse, and offices. Sites were chosen for the stud y after preliminary observations demonstrated higher occupational risks for the workers in these areas. Data collected from observations were categorized by departmental area to group types of hazards or risk of exposure relative to area of work. Possible risks being evaluated were chemical, biological, physical, psychosocial and trauma. Possible study subjects included 92 workers involved in all areas of work mentioned above. Although it was not possible to study all workers while actively working, random visits at various times of the workday increased the number of subjects observed (due to their rotational shifts) and maximized observations of natural behavior by workers. Data Collection Observations, questionnaires (Figure 1), informal interviews and a review of literature on occupational health were used to gather information about occupational hazards, regulations, training and risk exposure of the workers. Observations allowed us to make our own judgements about the types of risks to which the labor force was exposed, while questionnaires and interviews served to get worker history and perspective of occupational health at the cheese factory. Literature on occupational risks in Costa Rica was used to collect information on regulations specific to the nation and industry. Most observations were completed during the week of July 22, but all observations were carried out from July 2, through July 25, 2002. The plant/production area was visited four times for periods lasting from 1 to 3 hours. Each visit was focused on a different section or workstation, to give special attention to detail and concentrate on all tasks performed within that area. Brief follow ups were made if further details were needed. Supervisors guided the first two visits to the produ ction area, and procedures in all areas were explained. Subsequently, the workers were sometimes asked questions regarding issues or activities that seemed unclear. Smaller areas, such as the warehouse, maintenance, and offices were each visited 2 times fo r periods of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Milk receiving was visited 3 times for about 1 hour each time, including one visit dedicated to observe cleaning of the milk tank. Again, brief follow ups were made when more data was needed. An anonymous, self administer entrance for the workers to collect and fill out at their own discretion (see Figure 1). Anonymity seemed an
important issue for the workers and the questionnaire was created to m inimize the possibility for personal identification, including its distribution. A large ballot box was made and left in the cafeteria for the workers to drop their completed questionnaires. The questionnaires were available from Wednesday, July 24 to Satu rday, July 27 originally, but the due date was extended to Sunday, July 28 to maximize the return. One hundred questionnaires were made available and a total of 14 were returned. Informal interviews were carried out from July 4, through July 28, 2002. Inte rviews with members of the were conducted with other members of the staff during their breaks; sometimes groups of workers were interviewed together. D uring group interviews, only data from those workers who verbally gave a response were counted in the data analysis. A total of 16 individuals were considered for the interview sample. Various positions held in the company were represented in the sample. Training material used by the cheese factory to train employees on occupational health, including literature (pamphlets and books) from the National Institute of Safety were consulted to establish a background on implemented national and industry regulati ons and determine the level of training received by employees. Occupational safety rules and regulations created by the cheese factory were examined to determine what groundwork in occupational risks the company had already completed. These guidelines were also used for comparative purposes, to establish correlations and continuity with our own findings. Company accidental records from September 8, 2001 to April 11, 2002 were also examined to gain insight into the types of accidents suffered in recent histo ry at the cheese factory and draw parallels between them and our findings on risk exposure. Statistical Analysis Statistical analysis for the survey were made using the statistical program SPSS. Pie graphs were used to illustrate the findings and descript ive statistics were used to determine demographics. Due to the small sample size of both surveys and interviews, it was possible to calculate and summarize manually, worker recommendations, described afflictions, medical history and opinions on workload an d company support. Observations Offices The majority of administrative/clerical personnel work in two different offices, accounting and information technology. Much of our observations focused on the accounting offices, as the conditions in that area were far less acceptable than those in IT. The room was very small and desks were lined side by side with no space in between. There was very little room for walking around within the office and there was no defined aisle space. There is minimal space for empl oyees to step away from their desks and stretch, as well as minimal personal physical space. The desks were low and the workers had to adjust their chairs to fit the height of the desks, often adding to their already cramped physical posture. This was espe cially noticeable with taller individuals. Altogether, there were six desks in the room, five were being used and one was empty. Four had computers and two did not. We were informed that computers were shared among employees. Each employee has their own de sk, but extra desks were needed to hold shared computers. Chairs have lumbar
support and are adjustable; however, none have arm support. Wrist support is also lacking from both the keyboard and mouse pad. Monitors are low, and not at eye level for most emp loyees, requiring slight bending of the neck when working. Upright document holders are also absent, again requiring workers to continuously have vertical neck movement. The printer, located at the front of the room is very noisy. It is used by a large pa rt of the staff, so it is continuously running. During observations there, it was hard to block out the noise, and concentration was definitely affected by the loud sound. Closets in the back of the room are used as filing cabinets for large notebooks. Ho wever, there are no wedges to keep the notebooks upright, and sliding doors are kept open. When notebooks are retrieved (or even while standing untouched), surrounding notebooks are disturbed and can easily fall from their shelves and unto employees whose desks are located directly next to the bookcases, or upon the person retrieving the notebooks. Milk Receiving Areal/Milk Tank Cleaning The first step in the processing of cheese occurs in the milk receiving area. An average of 30 40,000 kilos of milk is r eceived per day from the 270 milk producers in the zona lechera (milk zone) which consists of a 50 km stretch from Cordillera Tilarn to Quebrada Grande. Milk comes in trucks, tankers, or oxen, arriving from 6:30am to 12:00pm. The milk receiving area consi sts of two conveyor belts in which one accepts the metal containers, in which the milk is stored, while the other belt returns them. This area also contains one of two milk storage tanks. The procedure involves the receiving of milk via the first conveyor belt, inputting the pre registered number per milk distributor displayed on the metal containers, testing the milk, then pouring it into a large container/machine which measures the amount received and prints a receipt which is later placed within the lid of one of the jugs. After the milk is poured into the machine that pours below into the plant to be pasteurized, the container is placed on the ground for the second employee to rinse it off. It is then placed on the second conveyor belt and rolled out. T his section was observed during three visits in which one was partly dedicated to the cleaning of the milk tank. Our observations revealed that the most important risks involved the slippery floor, an overall major concern in the plant, and noise. During the visits the floor was always wet due to milk spills and the water used to wash the milk away into the drains. There are three drains in this area in close proximity leaving a large portion of the floor wet. The clashing of the metal milk containers agai nst the metal bars of the conveyor belt was continuous throughout the delivering of milk. Due to our limited amount of time we were not able to measure, in decibels, the noise level. Our indication of loud noise was subjectively based on whether we could h ear each other speak while standing next to each other. The personal protection equipment was worn out. Ear protection was available but upon inspection we found that only two were available; one was filled with napkins and the other with a thin layer of f oam. The metal platform on which one of the men was standing was also in bad condition. The top of this platform was missing parts of the elevated rods. One long term physical risk observed involved the repetitive motions of pulling and lifting the milk co ntainers.
Connected to the milk receiving area is a refrigerated milk tank (2 C) which measures approximately 16 feet in length and 8 feet in width with an entrance of about 2.5 feet by 1.5 feet. The cleaning of this particular milk tank occurs once a day in the early morning. This is performed by one individual but is rotated between 10 employees. On the particular day we observed, the cleansing started at 6:30 a.m. and ended at 7:04a.m. The three steps involved are: 1) washing with water and soap, 2) rins ing off the interior with hot water, and 3) rinsing with chlorine and water. The employee performed the first two steps from the inside of the tank; he entered at 6:30 am and exited at 6:51a.m. The only protective gear he wore was a waterproof apron and th e mandatory rubber boots. The risks involved entry to a confined space alone, the use of bleach, and the change in temperature. features of thi s area. For instance, a hook was available to hang the hose used to wash down the floor, rubber mats were on the floor in between the conveyor lands even though they were not muffling the sound of the metal containers. Also, on the door to the milk receivi ng area, there was an award which commends them for 95 that stressed order and cleanliness. Pasteurization Area The pasteurization area is the first station that the milk goes after it is received at the plant. A large tank holds the excess milk that cannot be held in the tank in the milk receiving room. Before the milk is used for anything at the factory it is pasteurized. The pasteurization process consists of running the milk throu gh a series of tubes where the temperature is elevated for a short period of time to kill the bacteria. Also in this area is the tank used to hold the pasteurized and cold milk used in the sales room. The risks in this area include the floor, and the clean ing practices of the milk tank. The floor is made of reddish, orange tile that is broken and fallen into disrepair in many places. Excess cheese and milk fall on the floor to create a very slippery film. This film, combined with the excess water used to fl ush the milk and cheese into the drain creates a very dangerous situation. Also included in the risks of the floor in this area is a sloping section leading to the pasteurization area. The incline is not big enough to create a step, but is very dangerous a t its current slope. Many people are caught off guard by the change in the height of the floor and by its slippery surface. Another risk observed in this section is the cleaning of the milk tank. The milk tank is cleaned everyday once the milk is transfer red into one of the big tanks for the cheese making process. In order to clean the tank, a worker first opens the tank and starts hosing it down with cold water from a hose. After this, the worker gets inside the tank with a brush at the end of a long poll and a bucket filled with a liquid of chlorine and hot water. Once inside, he cleans the tank, continually dipping it into the solution of chlorine and water and scrubbing the sides, top and bottom of the tank. The worker was wearing boots and a long water proof apron, but this is not enough to totally protect him from the use of chlorine and hot water in a small enclosed space. Another risk is the transport of hot water from the tap to the small tank for cheese making. No hose was used for this process. In stead a metal bucket was used to transfer hot water from the tap to the small tank. Curd Retrieval Area After the milk is pasteurized, cheese is produced in the two tanks in the elaboration area. This zone is marked by the control of the process of cheese. The retrieval of curds occurs in this section. The risks observed included a slippery working / walking surface (floor and slope), no marked aisles/walkways, and repetitive motions in the retrieval of the curd.
The floor had a greasy film due to the combination of water, whey, cheese, and milk spills. Another factor that impairs an adequate walking surface is the fact that there are several tiles missing from the floor along with uneven indentations. Also of concern is the slope that connects to the pasteurization area. Many of the employees commented that they have all slipped on that slope at leas t once. The space is limited and there is an absence of recognizable walkways. The retrieval of the curd from the tank was categorized as a long term risk with detrimental effects on the lower back due to the lifting. Along with the floor, we found this to be an important issue to address. The retrieval of curd and filling of molds occurs various times per day in increments of 45 minutes. After the cheese is stirred and prepared, the whey from the tank is drained. Between 3 and 5 men begin the curd retrieva l process. A metal strainer tray, measuring about 14 in. by 10 in., is used to pick up the curd from the tank that is later placed into a compressed mold to further extract the whey. The tank is approximately 3 3.5 feet in height. Bending at the knees, whi ch is the proper way to position oneself when lifting, is not an option since the tank is deep and would prevent the collection of curd. This risk of back injury and/or strain is high. Slicing and cutting of cheese In the second main section of the plant where the machines cut the processed cheese, workers manually cut cheddar cheese to a precise weight for resale and packaging. A machine using hydraulics cuts big blocks into smaller sections. These sections are not the exact weight, and so workers sit at a table with scales to slice the top of the cheese to the appropriate weight with large knives. They use their hand to stop the blade at the end of the block of cheese posing a risk that they might cut themselves. Packaging Area (including the preparation of natilla, caramel, and cheese waxing) The packaging area and preparation of natilla (sour cream), caramel, and cheese waxing take place in the back room of the factory. The waxing of the cheese takes place in the smaller room attached to this big room w here the processed cheese is made. Although we did not observe the actual making of the natilla we did see when the natilla is placed into boxes ready to be shipped. Workers place the containers in the boxes and then cut the packaging tape with their teeth This practice could be hazardous to their teeth as the severing of the tape could cause breakage. The caramel was boiling while we were observing other sections of the factory. Again, although we did not see the actual transfer of hot caramel from the l arger container, caution should be used when this transfer takes place as this practice could result in severe burns. The waxing of cheese with hot red wax was another practice we observed. The workers did not get much, if any, wax on their hands, as all t hey did was place the cheese in the wax, wait for it to dry, and wax the other side. The risk would be if they got hot wax on themselves, as they were not wearing long aprons. Processed Cheese In the mixed cheese production area, different cheeses are mel area, and cannot be crowded because of limited space and constant movement by all the workers. Once the cheese is melted in iron containers, it is poured into long, thin, metal containers and placed in refrige rators. Two workers retrieve the cheese from the iron containers. One worker tilts the iron pot by its handle and scoops it out with a spatula, while another worker sits in a chair front of the pot as it is being tilted, and catches it directly with the t hin metal holder. The cheese is heated to about 30 degrees Celsius. High risk of a serious burn is possible to both workers because protective clothing or equipment is not worn, and because of the retrieval procedure. The worker catching the cheese is vuln erable to the melting liquid spilling on his legs or hands, and the worker scooping the cheese out with the spatula could also receive burns from the liquid spilling, or sprinkling on his hands.
The chair used by the worker to catch the cheese is small, ma de out of metal and lacks a cushion, and rubber stoppers on the legs. This is especially dangerous because the floor is slippery, which can cause the chair to slip. The chair is also very stiff, and not conducive to correct posture, which can cause pain or discomfort if used for extensive periods of time. The equipment used to melt cheese produces a large amount of vapor, creating a lot of heat. There is a high risk of vapor burn if contact is made with the skin, however, the heat emitted from the process o f melting cheese cause the temperature in the room to rise significantly. There are two or three small windows and a ventilator, but they are not sufficient in keeping the room well ventilated, or cool. Refrigerated Rooms Most refrigerators are kept at te mperatures which pose low risk for the workers. However, refrigerator number 6 and the ice cream freezer are kept at low temperature required by their contents. Use protective clothing in these areas was observed. All workers in refrigerator six (kept at s ix degrees Celsius) were wearing coats, and several were wearing gloves. Individuals working in the ice cream freezer also wore coats and gloves. As long as implementation of protective clothing is maintained, and exposure in low temperatures is regulated, the freezers pose low risk for the workers. The floor in the ice cream freezer was covered with ice, and we were informed that that was common, creating a high risk of slipping and falling. Also, ice cream was stacked in baskets unto a cart to transport to the sales area. The stacked ice cream was very high, above the workers head, creating a risk for one of the baskets to fall, and possibly injure, surrounding employees. Maintenance The maintenance activities of the factory vary in time, location, and p ractice. While visiting the factory we saw the repair of the mixing blades of the cheese tank. The tank was full of hot whey when the man placed a platform over the liquid to reach the machine on top. He did not have any protective clothing on to prevent o r catch him from falling or any grip strips to add traction to his platform. Other maintenance activities take place in the machinery maintenance area, which was at the back of the factory on the ground level. The ventilation was very good in this area, and the oils were clearly labeled by different colored containers. The problem was that there was little organization present in this area and cords were left lying around the tripped over. There was also oil on the floor, which could be slippery. Warehou se/bottling area The warehouse area is kept clean and organized and walking aisles are clearly marked. All open bags containing chemicals are securely tied and mixing of chemicals is done with protective equipment (i.e., gloves, mask). However, several box es and other objects were noted to be outside of the marked area and into the aisles, creating a hazard for tripping and falling. One of the biggest risks observed was the steepness of the stairs, which is often used to carry loads to the second floor. We were informed that workers often trip on these stairs because of its inclination creating a high risk for injury, especially when workers hands are occupied as they transport heavy objects to the second floor. Another major risk was the open elevator sha ft. The shaft has a door, but we were informed that it is always maintained open due to workers from below transporting goods to the warehouse via this method. This poses
another risk, as workers will climb up a ladder on the side of the elevator shaft, so metimes carrying small items, since the elevator is reserved for bringing up heavy loads. Workers are also exposed to heavy lifting when organizing boxes and products on shelves, which may be as high as ten feet. We were informed that all lifting is done manually, a hazard for musculoskeletal and back pain due to extensive and repetitive bending and lifting. Another area of the warehouse located outside the main building is bottling of chemicals used for cleaning. The most common chemicals were Chlorine and Nitric Acid. The bottling room was kept very clean and organized. All harmful chemicals were kept on low shelves and chemicals, which can react violently, are kept far from each other. A sink and shower are available for emergencies; however the shower area was completely blocked with boxes and empty chemical containers. Also, there was no eyewash in case of accidental splashing or contact with eyes. Safety issues: signage, first aid, emergency exits, fire extinguishers Signs are a form of prevention. Throughout the cheese factory there is a scarcity of signs. Those that do exist are faded and need to be updated. We were able to locate four emergency exit and two wet floor signs. We did not fin any signs pointing to all other exits nor were there any ot her warning signs. The milk receiving area did not have any signs enforcing use of personal protection equipment nor were there any warnings against the slippery floor and loud noise. As was mentioned earlier, the production area has five sections and the highest number of workers. For this reason, more signs should be posted. Throughout our visits to the cheese factory we were not able to locate a first aid kit. Outside of the production plant was a large first aid cabinet, but upon inspection we found it to be empty. We came across some gabachas (labcoats) that were being stored in the cabinet, but not a sign of first aid material. We were informed that one first aid kit does exist but is kept in the human resources office. Besides it being the only one i n the cheese factory, it is only available during office hours. Thereafter the office is locked along with the kit. Although there are some signs for the emergency exits, they are not enforced. Two of the emergency exits were completely blocked. Exit # 4 was blocked from outside of the plant and Exit #5 was obstructed from within. Fire extinguishers were up to date but the instructions were in English with a small label in Spanish which made it difficult to read. Data Analysis Using the questionnaires and interviews, we were able to gain more in depth information about employee opinion and perspective on the types of risks that the workers themselves are exposed to at the cheese factory and those they feel pose higher risks for them. Demographics on employ ees interviewed and those who answered the questionnaire are as follows: 83.3% were male, 13.3% were female and 3.3% did not give a response. Mean age was 36.57 (data gathered only from questionnaires). Mean average for years worked at the library was 12.8 years (data gathered only from questionnaires). Questionnaire The first question of the questionnaire asked the workers if they had received on the job training (see Figure 1). Of the fourteen persons who filled out reports 28.6% of the workers reported that they had received some
type of training, while 71.4% of them reported that they received none. This is a self reported survey so the exact type of training is unknown (See Figure 2a). The second part of question one asked those that stated that they d id have training the satisfaction of the training that they did receive. Of those that received training, 21.4% said that it was adequate while 71.4% said that it was not (See Figure 2b). The aim of the second question on the survey was to identify their view on the importance of occupational health and safety knowledge demonstrates that 71.4% of the respondents in the questionnaire indicated that occupational health and safety training is important. The remainder, 28.6%, did not provide any data. Those th at reported training was important cited various reasons why. The most popular answers were: prevention of accidents, reduction of risks, endowment with the knowledge to recognize hazards/risks and work efficiently, knowledge of what to do in an emergency, identify & prevent long term effects. (See Figure 3) workplace. The answers provided were: slippery floor, problems with lower back area due to inco rrect mo vements and/or heavy lifting, temperature (heat), stress, limited /restricted space, vapor, not having access to adequate personal protection equipment. ccupational safety. There was a lot of correspondence between what we observed and what the workers noted. The suggestions listed by the employees were: personal training, back braces, activation of the safety committee, more ventilation, emergency evacuat ion plan, safety lights in the large refrigerated rooms, better work equipment, more space in which to work in, breaks for the relaxation of muscles, periodic evaluation of safety conditions, better trained maintenance personnel, wheeled carts to roll crat es (versus pushing). Question number five asked if workers had access to personal protective equipment (PPE). 35.7% of workers who responded to the survey reported that they did have access to PPE, while 50% said that they did not. We have no information for 14.3% of those that filled out surveys. The types of PPE varied from gloves to boots to ear guards and belts. None of them were specific to any type of equipment (see Figure 4a). In sub question five those that reported that they had access to PPE wer e asked to state how often they used them. One hundred percent of those that said they had access to PPE also said that they wore their equipment all the time (see Figure 4b). Question 6 asked if workers had suffered pain or sickness since beginning work at the cheese factory, 64.3% answered yes, 14.3% answered no and 21.4% gave no response (see Figure 5). Of the 64.3% who answered that they suffered pain or had maladies since working at the factory, the most common maladies reported were: low back pain / musculoskeletal pain, hearing loss, stress, arthritis, foot pain, hand/finger injury. Question 7 asked if workers had had to visit a physician or clinic due to pain or injury received at or from work, 57.1% answered yes, 21.4% answered no and 21.4% gave n o response (see Figure 6). Of the 57.1% that answered that they had had to visit a clinic or doctor due to pain or injury at work, the most common maladies reported were: low back pain/musculoskeletal pain, stress, arthritis. Question 8 asked about accide nts suffered at work, 14.3% answered yes, 42.9% answered no and 42.9% gave no response (see Figure 7). Of the 14.3% that indicated that they had suffered some type of accident in the workplace, the most common answers were: hand/finger injury, falls due to slippery floors, back pain.
Interviews The first question of the informal interview revealed that the employees felt the work days were too long. Their comments revealed that they would prefer a maximum of 10 hours of work per day, rather than their current 12 14 hour shifts and 2 days off instead of one. The second question requested their opinion on whether they believed the cheese factory was concerned with the occupational health and safety of the employees. Two individuals responded positively, s tating that when an employee is sick while at work, the company will provide transportation for medical attention. The majority responded negatively, pointing out th t aid kit was located in the human resources office and locked in at the end of the day. In addition, they felt there was an insufficient amount of personnel trained in first aid care. High Risks RISK RECOMMENDATION SLIPPERY FLOOR (production plant & milk receiving area) Rubber mats: along with preventing slippage, it can also help with back pain; available with an antifungal composition. Squeegeeing the floor periodically. Industrial floor coating: waterproof & slip resistant grip strips: prevent slip page & would also provide a need marked aisle/walkway. Extension of the slope between pasteurization and cheese producing area. Direct water/whey with a tube into a drainage to prevent slippage. Hard plastic (Teflon) raised platform. Stools: with a rough s urface, stripping or a rubber ridge at the base which aids in sta bilizing/suctioning (slippage also depends on the base) CURD RETRIEVAL (cheese production area in the plant) Back braces: limitation aid those who already have existing back pain/problems but can serve as a reminder for all others (goal is to reduce back strain from bending and lifting improperly). Swivel type shovel (less strenuous than lifting) Pulley with large strainer at cheese tub ba se. Breaks in between/during curd retrieval. Shift rotation Medical treatment Provide training sessions on carrying and lifting to ensure proper practice. LOUD NOISE (milk receiving area) Replace ear protective gear Rubber or hard plastic conveyor belt to muffle sound of metal containers dropped on the existent metal conveyor belt. Add rubber padding on the floor, in between the 2 conveyor belts where drained milk containers are placed. Rubber padding at the base of the milk containers or hard
plastic containers to replace existent metal ones. HIGH TEMPERATURE BURNS from cheese from vapor Use of protective equipment such as: mits, leg guards, larger container to catch cheese. Clear and distinct signage indicating areas of escaping vapor ABSENCE OF FIRST AID (throughout the cheese factory) Supply and maintain first aid kits in all areas (these should be readily accessible). Provide informational sessions on first aid and emergencies. BLOCKED EMERGENCY EXITS Enforce use of emergency exits: unblock emergency exits #4 & #5. Create an emergency evacuation plan. CLEANING OF MILK TANKS/CONFINED SPACE (milk receiving and pasteurization areas) High pressure hose to avoid entrance into confined space. Use of personal protection equipment: eye protectors, 2 way masks, gloves Chemical substitution Always have 2 employees present USE OF KNIVES (cutting of cheddar cheese to the proper weight) Modify the machine to eliminate the need for a second cut Cut excess off the sides instead of the top preventing the risk of cutting horizontally WAREHOUSE BOTTLING AREA blocked shower in bottling area lack of eye wash in bottling area Remove any object which can obstruct full use of shower in an emergency. Provide eye wash in case of emergency. SLIPPERY/INCLINED STAIRS near cafeteria in warehouse Replace grip strips Replace old stairs with ones less steep Use grip strips MAINTENANCE (fixing of mixing blades of the cheese tank) Add grip strips to the platform to decrease the risk of slipping. Have worker wear a protective harness to catch him in case of a fall TRANS FER OF HOT WATER (pasteurization area) Use personal protection equipment such as apron, and gloves Use a hose to transfer water instead of doing it manually with a bucket 0PEN CARGO ELEVATOR SHAFT/LADDER IN ELEVATOR SHAFT (warehouse) Always keep door closed Reduce use of ladder to carry objects to second floor without full use of both hands Increase use of elevator for carrying cargo to second floor.
LIFTING IN THE WAREHOUSE onto shelves up the stairs Use short ladder to transport heavy objects onto shelves Use two workers to transport heavy objects onto shelves to reduce repeated bending. Create pulley system to transport heavy objects to second floor Reduce walking up the stairs without full use of both hands Low Risks Risk Recommendation OFFICE small office space printer noise ergonomics Reorganize office area to increase use of space available. Change location of printer Create separate cubicle for printer to muffle sound implement use of wrist support on keyboards and mouse pad. Chairs with arm support Taller desks to allow for leg extension Higher monitors and upright document holders to reduce vertical neck movement. Breaks to walk around and stretch REFRIGERATORS/FREEZER Use of protective equipment, i.e., coats, gloves, hats. Reduce exposure time in cold refrigerato rs and freezers. Keep freezer floor clear of ice Keep stacked ice cream for transportation at eye level or below. BLOCKED AISLES IN THE WAREHOUSE Remove all objects inside marked aisles VENTILATION AND HEAT (processed cheese area) Increase ventilation by use of more ventilators or more windows to keep air movement within the area. ABSENCE OF SIGNAGE Provide signs indicating: requirements, warnings, information, and prohibitions. Indicate: hazards/wet floor, risk zone), use of personal protection equipmen t specific to each area, all exits, etc. Replace existing signs that are faded (2 near cafeteria stairwell). FIRE EXTINGUISHERS Add large label with Spanish instructions and Model of use CUTTING PACKAGING TAPE WITH TEETH (boxed natilla packaging area) Get packing tape that has a blade to cut: eliminate need to use to teeth
MAINTENANCE ROOM (below warehouse) Use hooks for hoses to make sure the floor is clean and clear of debris. Clean oil spills so that the floor is not slippery. gram Conclusion Occupational health and safety is the shared responsibility of the employee and the company. The recommendations made by the employees were consistent with our findings and emphasize the need for occupational health and safety training for the employees an d immediate action on safety concerns, such as slippery floors and reduction of back injuries. We hope that with our preliminary risk assessment the first steps can be taken in activating the safety committee and following up with the listed recommendation s. In addition, a mandatory follow up evaluation should be enforced to ensure occupational safety and see what has been implemented from our list of recommendations, how effective the recommendation was, and if any observable changes have occurred. For the se reasons, it is suggested that the cheese factory have a formal risk assessment. Based on the questionnaires and interviews, it is also apparent that there is a high need for the training of personnel in occupational health and safety. We hope that with the second questionnaire, developed specifically for the use of the cheese factory and administered at the end of our presentation, the company will take through a colla borative effort. Recommendations for Future Research Our focus/goal was to conduct a preliminary risk assessment per request of the cheese factory. For this reason, along with the limitation of time and resources, we were not able to provide an in depth analysis. There are many areas that still require a thorough assessment. For instance, in terms of the observed high noise level, it would be advised that the actual noise be measured in decibels so as to assess exactly what type of ear protection would be adequate. We observed that the mixing of chemicals occurs daily at two sites, warehouse and bottling area. It would be useful to measure the actual exposure to chemicals. Archival research, of the accidental and health records from the past 10 years, woul d also provide a comparative groundwork for the most common types of occupational accidents and health impairments. Productores de Monteverde, S.A. would also like a risk evaluation of the pig farm. A preliminary and basic pig farm risk assessment could be prepared as was done with the cheese factory. Sources Consulted Personal conversation with Rafael Vargas on July 16, 2002 at the Monteverde Cheese Factory. Instituto Nacional de Seguros Direccin de Seguros Solidarios: Manual de Condiciones y Medio Am biente de Trabajo. Aspectos Bsicos sobre Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo. Compendio de Reglamentos sobre Salud y Seguridad en el Trabajo.
Figure 2a Percentage of workers that have received health training and occupational security. Satisfaction i n Training Figure 2b Level of satisfaction of those who have received training in occupational health and security
Importance of training for workers Figure 3 Opinion of importance of training in occupational health and security Access to personal protection equipment Figure 4a. Availability of equipment for personal protection
Use of equipment protection Figure 4b Use of personal protection equipment Suffering a illness or pain starting work at the Dairy Plant Figure 5 Employees that reported suffering an illness or pain related with work
Employees that have had treatment for an illness/pain caused by work Figure 6 Employees who have received treatment because of ailments related with work Percentage of employees that have suffered an accident at work Figure 7 Employees who have suffered a work related accident.