1- Article-One Tiny Drop (Mercury Poisoning) This week’s topic is Industrial Hygiene. It is a very broad topic covering everything from acoustics to zinc exposure. ONE TINY DROP Read this article ti

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1- Article-One Tiny Drop (Mercury Poisoning)

This week’s topic is Industrial Hygiene.  It is a very broad topic covering everything from acoustics to zinc exposure.


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Read this article titled “One Tiny Drop.” Article-One Tiny Drop (Mercury Poisonings)

After reading the article, consider the following questions as you respond to this week’s discussion:

Discussion Question 1: Did the victim understand the risks?

Discussion Question 2: What personal protective equipment did she use? What exact type of protective glove should she have used?

Discussion Question 3: If you were the Vice President of Safety & Environmental Health at Dartmouth College, what would you have done to prevent similar accidents from happening?

Additional information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

2- What is Ergonomics Anyway?  Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker and the product to the user.

Case Study

Prior to her injury, ‘Janice’ worked as a word processor operator, for a medium sized firm of management consultants just outside London. She worked in a typing pool with three other girls. One day, one of the partners in the firm needed to get a lot of information entered onto a database in a hurry—and it occurred to him that Janice might work faster if she was in a room on her own where she could not waste time chattering with her friends. So he had a computer terminal set up for her in the firm’s library. It was placed on an antique wooden desk. This was somewhat higher than the standard office desk (antiques often are). It had two plinths and a ‘knee-hole drawer’ in the space between them where the user sits. Janice found that however she sat at this desk she could not get into a comfortable working position. She noticed in particular that her wrists were not at their normal angle to the keyboard. It was during the early part of the afternoon that she first began to be aware of a dull ache at the backs of her wrists. This rapidly became worse until she was in considerable discomfort. So she told her boss about it. His response (as it was subsequently alleged) was to say: ‘Stop whingeing and get on with your work!’ So Janice did. As a result, she developed an acute tenosynovitis affecting the extensor tendons of both wrists. Her condition subsequently became chronic and she was no longer able to type. She lost her job and was forced to take up less well paid employment as a traffic warden. She took legal action against her employers who eventually settled ‘on the courtroom steps’ for a substantial sum of money.

Discussion Questions

  1. What lessons may we learn from the story of ‘Janice’, over and above the more obvious ones concerned with management style and so on?
  2. What changes would you have recommended to make Janice’s workplace more ERGONOMIC?
  3. Should employers be legally required to make their workplaces “ERGONOMIC”


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