MSc Occupational Hygiene / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Understanding Physical Agents

Unit code POPH68821
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This unit focuses on specific physical hazards found in the workplace and their effects on health, including noise, vibration, radiation, environmental temperatures (heat and cold), raised atmospheric pressures and lighting conditions.

Aims

The unit explores in depth the workplace exposure to physical agents, enabling the student to apply principles of risk management to a range of physical hazards that may be encountered in the workplace, and to demonstrate knowledge of how physical agents can be measured and controlled.

Learning outcomes

 The learning outcomes intend to:

  • provide an understanding of the effects of noise on hearing and health, and the concept of hearing impairment and its assessment;
  • enable students to investigate the factors causing vibration and its effects on health; including hand-arm and whole-body vibration, the recognition of and how to control symptoms and prevent ill health;
  • provide an understanding of ionising and non-ionising radiations and their biological effects;
  • provide an overview of the mechanisms and short/long term effects of working in environments where there is increased ambient pressure;
  • enable students to assess the effects of heat and cold on occupational health and productivity; and
  • Assess how common causes of visual dysfunction may interfere with the ability to work, and the effects of the physical environment (lighting) on function at work.

Syllabus

  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Radiation
  • Compressed Air Work and Commercial Diving
  • Temperature and Work
  • Light and Vision

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching will take the form of online materials supported by online lectures, webinars, group discussion, tutorial, face-to-face workshops and practical experience days where relevant.

Blackboard will be used for course materials including group discussions, announcements and updating of content, relevant lecture slides and additional reading, written example sheets and for online formative assessments

Knowledge and understanding

On completion, students should be able to:

  • understand how to evaluate the likely effects of physical hazards on health, and advise on their prevention and management;
  • know about the current legislation and guidance on the control of occupational exposure in relation to physical agents;
  • be aware of measures that can be used to control exposure of workers to physical hazards and how to protect persons against the effects of these hazards; and
  • understand the role of health surveillance for workers exposed to physical hazards.

Intellectual skills

On completion, students should be able to:

  • understand the principles relating to the mechanisms and effects of physical agents on health and performance;
  • be familiar with ways of measuring exposures to physical agents;
  • understand the requirement for health surveillance for workers exposed to specific physical agents;
  • appreciate the effects of co-morbidities on fitness for work in environments where there may be exposure to physical agents; and
  • be familiar with short and long term effects of physical agents on workers and how these should be managed – including both clinical and workplace/environmental management.

Practical skills

On completion, students should be able to:

  • understand how environmental/workplace noise is measured, the relevance of exposure(s) to noise for individuals, and how to test/interpret audiological function;
  • understand how environmental/workplace vibration is measured, the relevance of exposure(s) to vibration for individuals, and how to perform/interpret health surveillance on workers exposed to vibration;
  • understand the pathology, diagnostic features and treatment of decompression illness, and the effects of co-morbidities on workers’ fitness;
  • be familiar with how the environmental/workplace thermal environment (temperature and humidity) is assessed, physiological responses to the thermal environment, and treatment for conditions caused by the thermal environment; and
  • be familiar with how environmental/workplace lighting is assessed, how to perform/interpret health surveillance on workers’ visual function, and to advise on the effects of lighting and vision on performance.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On completion, students should be able to:

  • understand the physical environment, in terms of measurement of physical exposures and effects on health; and
  • know about health surveillance for workers exposed to physical agents and the effects of co-morbidities can be used in many fields of medicine (i.e. beyond the workplace environment).

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will gain an understanding of the physical environment, in terms of measurement of physical exposures and effects on health.
Problem solving
Students will be able to evaluate the likely effects of physical hazards on health, and advise on their prevention and management.
Other
Students will understand the process of health surveillance for workers exposed to physical agents and the effects of co-morbidities can be used in many fields of medicine (i.e. beyond the workplace environment).

Assessment methods

Description

Weighting

Length

Presentation and briefing note

100%

20 minutes presentation

500 word briefing note

Feedback methods

Formative assessments with automatic feedback are available throughout the unit as an aid to understanding the course materials. Feedback for the summative assessments is provided by tutors via Blackboard. Students may also receive direct feedback from interaction with session leaders throughout the course of study.

Recommended reading

Agius R, Seaton A. Practical occupational medicine 2nd ed. London: Hodder Arnold 2005. ISBN 034075947X OR Tar-Ching A, Gardiner K, Harrington, JM. Occupational health (Pocket Consultants) 5th ed. Wiley-Blackwell 2006.  ISBN- 10 1405122218; ISBN-13 978-1405122214.

  •  Palmer K, Brown I, Hobson J (Eds). Fitness for work: the medical aspects 5th ed.  OUP 2013. ISBN 0199643245.
  • Griffin MJ (Ed). Handbook of human vibration. London: Academic Press 1990. ISBN 0123030412
  • Parsons KC. Human thermal environments. The effects of hot, moderate, and cold environments on human health, comfort, and performance 2nd ed. London: Taylor and Francis 2003.  ISBN 0748400419
  • Bove AA, Davis JC. Bove and Davis Diving Medicine 4th ed. Elsevier Saunders 2003. ISBN 0721694241
  • Boyce PR.  Human factors in lighting. Barking, Applied Science Publishers: 1981.  ISBN 0853349126

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Melanie Carder Unit coordinator
Anne Clayson Unit coordinator

Additional notes

If you have any questions regarding the content of this unit, please contact the Course Unit Leaders, Melanie Carder or Anne Clayson, via melanie.carder@manchester.ac.uk or anne.clayson@manchester.ac.uk.

If you have any other queries, please contac the Programme Admin team via pgt-coeh@manchester.ac.uk.

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