Workplace safety inspection is important in maintaining safe working environment for students and staff in a laboratory. All students and staff are exposed to lots of possible incidents in the laboratory when rules and regulations are not followed. A workplace safety inspection or audit of laboratory identifies the potential hazards to ensure the safety of students and staff. This type of inspection must be done frequently to make sure that the condition of equipment and machinery in the laboratory is in a good condition so as to not pose any hazards to students and staff using the laboratory in their experiments.
Mechatronics is a synergistic integration of mechanical engineering with electronics and intelligent computer control in the design of products and manufacturing processes (Laughton & Warne, 2003). Study in this subject will revolve around the use of heavy machines, electronics and wiring of the models. The laboratories were inspected thoroughly to identify possible activities, equipment used, and other areas that might have a potential hazard to the students as well as the staff.
On the 27th of April 2012, an inspection was done to assess the mechatronics laboratory, located on Level 3 of Building 5. The mechatronics laboratory covers three main components,the main mechatronics laboratory and two sub-labs, namely the Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) Laboratory and Control Laboratory. The students who are allowed to use these labs are 2nd year and senior students doing course-related experiments and the other category that uses the lab are students doing their final year projects or postgraduate projects.
[...] At the entrance, there is a bilingual signs indicating what is allowed and what is not (Figure 2a). Overall, all the signs are strategically placed and there was no problem to be able to view them clearly. Figure Basic rules in laboratory for students, staff and visitors. Coloured codes for trunking and pipelines as a guide for students. Big & clear exit sign for students and staff. Personal Protective Equipment Personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and students are required to wear them at specific times. [...]
[...] Figure Large walkways with adequate spacing for students to walk around freely without any trip hazards. During the visit to the lab, no trip hazards were observed and the equipment is well-placed in the laboratory to minimize any hazards from occurring. No old equipment was observed to be inappropriately placed on the floor. One possible cause for trip hazard is only the chairs available there. Potential hazards: - As seen in the image above, the chairs are easily moved due to having wheels below them. [...]
[...] This would make it difficult for some students to exactly understand what the hazard on a particular machine would be. Hazard control recommendations: - Stick ‘wear goggles' stickers near the soldering work area. - Introduce warning stickers showing the picture of the hazard and containing words with a very brief description of the hazard itself. - For extra precaution from accidental pressing of the emergency switch, it can be covered in a plastic box which needs to be lifted for activating the switch. [...]
[...] This option is however unavailable as it is blocked by a piece of metal instead of glass as it should be. Hazard control recommendations - Fire plans should also be placed near emergency staircase to inform people the nearest assembly point. - Glass should be replaced on the top of the phone enclosure instead of the piece of metal currently placed. This would enable anyone to report the incident to the fire department without having to wait for the person having the key to come over and open the enclosure Egress Emergency exits There are three general exits for the three sub-labs located at the appropriate location. [...]
[...] This area requires goggles but there is no signage indicating that goggles are required at this place. Hazard warning signs were also present on different machines, such as ‘Slicing hazard' sign on the CIM machine (see Figure 17a below) and ‘Electrical hazard' on the MPS machine (see Figure 17b below) and ‘Moving robotic hand' and not touch' sign on the CIM machine (see Figure 17c below). Figure 17:a) Warning signage showing a slicing hazard on CIM machine. Electrical hazard' sign on the MPS machine shown by arrow ‘Moving robotic hand' and not touch' sign on the CIM machine. [...]
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