Do the different seasons affect worker exposure?

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Yes, and for a number of different reasons:

  • Workload – Many processes vary over the year typically due to agricultural changes and processes associated with this sector.
  • Heating – The introduction of heating systems powered by fuels can add new hazards to the workplace, such as carbon monoxide.
  • Reduced ventilation – As the weather cools the roller doors close. This reduced ventilation can lead to an increase in exposure to dusts and fumes caused by processes in the factory.
  • Dry weather – The summer months can lead to an increase in outside dust from dry soils, truck movements, excavations, or the wind whipping dust from the neighbour’s yard into yours.

Exposure assessments should be undertaken during the time of year when the hazard is at its worst. This will allow the controls implemented to be relevant for the typical worst case exposure so that you can keep your team safe and healthy. We have seen first-hand the difference in carbon monoxide levels from LPG forklifts in a store with the roller doors opened and closed. When the doors were closed the levels approached the Workplace Exposure Standard of 25ppm but when they were opened the levels dropped to around 5ppm. Therefore, it was clear that either electric forklifts were needed or mechanical ventilation was required to increase the amount of fresh air introduced when the roller doors were closed.