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Botti, Lucia (2017) The Impact of Occupational Safety on Logistics and Automation in Industrial Plants. [Ph.D. thesis]

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Abstract (english)

Research on workplace health and safety analyses the integration of work practices with safety, health and wealth of people at work. The aim of occupational safety is to realize a safe and health work environment, eliminating or reducing the risks for workers' safety and health.
The objective of this thesis is the study, integration, development and application of innovative approaches and models for decision-making support in the context of occupational safety in industrial plants and logistics. Such methodologies are expected to lead practitioners and decision-makers, in particular safety professionals and companies, in the management of occupational safety.
In particular, this research focuses on the integration and application of ergonomics principles to reduce biomechanical overload of manual work, and methodologies and solutions to improve safety of confined space work in industrial plants.
The study of biomechanical overload due to manual handling of loads and awkward postures is the object of several researches and publications addressing the ergonomic risk assessment and the ergonomic approach to remove or reduce the risk of manual handling injuries and disorders. Furthermore, when awkward postures are assumed in high-risk workplaces as confined spaces, the overall risk of work is extremely high. Confined space work is a high-risk activity, posing a significant hazard for both workers and rescuers involved in the emergency response. The leading cause of accidents and fatalities in confined spaces is atmospheric condition (Sahli & Armstrong 1992, Harris et al. 2005, Flynn & Susi, 2010, Meeker, Susi & Flynn 2010, Ye 2011, Bellamy 2015). Further common causes are fire, explosion, ignition of flammable contaminants, spontaneous combustion and contact with temperature extremes. Besides, work activities in confined spaces (e.g., welding and maintenance tasks) frequently require awkward and static postures, at high temperatures.
This thesis stresses the importance of implementing health and safety interventions at workplace. These interventions have impact not only on enterprise level but also on individual and social levels. Furthermore, protection of human life is a matter of human rights and human life has an invaluable value.
In this thesis, the role of occupational safety and safety strategy as means for the improvement of workers and companies’ performances clearly emerges. Two parallel research fields on occupational safety are investigated: ergonomics and confined spaces. Selected data are introduced related to occupational accidents and diseases due to biomechanical overload and work in confined spaces. The literature survey on controls for risk elimination and reduction shows that technology for safety is available. Nevertheless, injuries and accidents still occur, i.e. safety is frequently considered an expensive investment and a compliance obligation.
Specifically, administrative and engineering controls for risk elimination and reduction are introduced for each research field. Administrative controls include work procedures and mathematical models for the design of safe work processes. Such control methods reduce the workers' exposure to occupational risk factors. The ergonomic analysis of manual handling activities drives the modelling by multi-objective optimisation problems in the design of administrative controls for the ergonomic risk reduction in different industries. Administrative controls for risks in confined spaces include work procedures, a multi-criteria decision tool and the analysis of the requirements of Internet of Things (IOT) technologies for reducing the risk of confined space work. The introduction of automation to replace manual work and engineering controls for confined space work are analysed for the risk elimination. Results show that the integration of ergonomics and safety principles in the industrial processes plays a leading role in the successful implementation of the overall strategy. Technologies for safe confined space work and technical solutions assisting workers during manual material handling tasks have been the focus of the Solutions Database Project, funded by the Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale of Bologna (AUSL), Italy. The study of such technological and technical solutions lead to the development of the Solutions Database, a free access database available online for researchers and practitioners (http://safetyengineering.din.unibo.it/en/banca-delle-soluzioni).
The thesis ends with the recommendation that companies should integrate workplace health and safety principles to human resource management and work organisation. The management of health and safety issues should be considered to be crucial for workplace development, as a lever to increase performance and productivity. Finally, this research aims to support and reinforce the evolution of the concept of safety in industry, from ex post required obligation, to ex ante optimisation strategy.

Abstract (italian)

L'attività di ricerca in materia di salute e sicurezza negli ambienti di lavoro analizza l'integrazione tra le attività lavorative e la sicurezza, la salute e il benessere dei lavoratori. Lo scopo di tale scienza è di realizzare un ambiente di lavoro sano e sicuro, eliminando o riducendo i rischi per la salute e la sicurezza dei lavoratori.
L'obiettivo di questa tesi è lo studio, l'integrazione, lo sviluppo e l'applicazione di approcci innovativi e modelli di supporto alle decisioni in merito alla sicurezza occupazionale negli impianti industriali e nella logistica. Tali metodi vogliono essere una guida per chi mette in pratica i principi della sicurezza nei luoghi di lavoro, quali aziende e professionisti della sicurezza, e coloro che sono chiamati a prendere decisioni in merito alla gestione della sicurezza dei lavoratori.
In particolare, questa ricerca si focalizza sull'integrazione e l'applicazione dei principi dell'ergonomia per la riduzione del sovraccarico biomeccanico dovuto alle attività manuali, e di metodi e soluzioni per migliorare la sicurezza del lavoro negli ambienti confinati presenti negli impianti industriali.
Lo studio del sovraccarico biomeccanico dovuto alla movimentazione manuale dei carichi e alle posture incongrue è l'obiettivo di numerose ricerche e pubblicazioni in merito alla valutazione del rischio ergonomico e all'approccio ergonomico per la rimozione e la riduzione del rischio d'infortuni e malattie professionali legate alla movimentazione manuale dei carichi. Inoltre, quando le posture incongrue sono assunte all'interno di ambienti lavorativi ad alto rischio, quali gli ambienti confinati, il rischio complessivo del lavoro diventa molto elevato.
Il lavoro all'interno degli ambienti confinati è un'attività a elevato rischio, che espone sia i lavoratori che i possibili soccorritori coinvolti nella risposta d'emergenza a un elevato pericolo. La causa principale degli infortuni e degli incidenti mortali all'interno degli ambienti confinati è la condizione atmosferica presente nell'ambiente. Altre cause frequenti sono il fuoco, esplosione, presenza di contaminanti infiammabili, combustione spontanea e contatto con temperature elevate. Inoltre, l'attività lavorativa negli ambienti confinati (es., saldatura e manutenzione) richiede spesso posture statiche ed incongrue, mantenute in presenza di elevate temperature.
Questa tesi sottolinea l'importanza dell'attuazione tempestiva degli interventi per il miglioramento delle condizioni di salute e sicurezza sul posto di lavoro. Questi interventi hanno un impatto non solo a livello aziendale, ma anche a livello individuale e sociale. Inoltre, la protezione del lavoratore è questione di diritti umani, e la vita umana ha un valore inestimabile.
In questa tesi, emerge chiaramente il ruolo della strategia di gestione della sicurezza sul lavoro come mezzo per il miglioramento dei lavoratori e delle prestazioni aziendali. Due ambiti di ricerca in materia di sicurezza sul lavoro sono approfonditi parallelamente: l'ergonomia delle posture, dei movimenti e delle postazioni di lavoro, e le attività negli ambienti confinati. Saranno mostrati dati numerici e casistiche relative agli infortuni e alle malattie dovute al sovraccarico biomeccanico e al lavoro negli ambienti confinati, in ambito industriale. L'analisi della letteratura sui metodi per l'eliminazione e la riduzione del rischio mostra la presenza di numerose tecnologie, ad oggi disponibili, per la sicurezza dei lavoratori rispetto a tali ambiti. Tuttavia, gli infortuni, gli incidenti e le malattie professionali sono ancora presenti, a dimostrazione del fatto che la sicurezza è spesso considerata un costoso investimento e un mero obbligo di conformità alla normativa cogente.
In particolare, questo elaborato presenta diverse metodologie di tipo amministrativo e tecnico per l'eliminazione e la riduzione del rischio in ciascun ambito di ricerca indagato. I controlli amministrativi comprendono procedure e modelli matematici per la progettazione dei processi di lavoro in sicurezza. Tali metodi di controllo riducono l'esposizione dei lavoratori ai fattori di rischio. L'analisi ergonomica delle attività di movimentazione manuale guida la modellazione dei problemi di ottimizzazione multi-obiettivo nella progettazione dei controlli amministrativi per la riduzione del rischio ergonomico in diversi settori industriali. I controlli di tipo amministrativo per la riduzione dei rischi in ambienti confinati includono procedure di lavoro, metodologie decisionali multi-criterio e l'analisi dei requisiti dei sistemi basati sulle tecnologie dell'Internet delle cose (IOT) per ridurre il rischio del lavoro negli ambienti confinati. L'introduzione dell'automazione a sostituzione del lavoro manuale e le metodologie tecniche per il controllo del rischio durante il lavoro negli ambienti confinati vengono presentati come strumenti per l'eliminazione del rischio. I risultati mostrano come l'integrazione dei principi dell'ergonomia e della sicurezza nei processi industriali svolga un ruolo di primo piano per il successo dell'attuazione della complessiva strategia aziendale.
La tesi termina con la raccomandazione che le aziende dovrebbero integrare i principi di salute e sicurezza sul posto di lavoro per la gestione delle risorse umane con la strategia organizzativa e produttiva aziendale. La gestione dei problemi e dei rischi per la salute e la sicurezza dei propri lavoratori dovrebbe essere considerata come cruciale per lo sviluppo e il miglioramento dell'ambiente di lavoro, nonché un efficace leva per aumentare le prestazioni e la produttività dell'azienda. Infine, questa ricerca sostiene e rafforza l'evoluzione del concetto di sicurezza nel settore industriale, da ex post obbligo di adempimento a una normativa cogente, a ex ante strategia di ottimizzazione.

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EPrint type:Ph.D. thesis
Tutor:Mora, Cristina
Ph.D. course:Ciclo 29 > Corsi 29 > INGEGNERIA MECCATRONICA E DELL'INNOVAZIONE MECCANICA DEL PRODOTTO
Data di deposito della tesi:31 January 2017
Anno di Pubblicazione:30 January 2017
Key Words:ergonomics; confined space; occupational safety; automation;
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 09 - Ingegneria industriale e dell'informazione > ING-IND/17 Impianti industriali meccanici
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > Dipartimento di Tecnica e Gestione dei Sistemi Industriali
Codice ID:9937
Depositato il:15 Nov 2017 10:08
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