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25. General Health Standards for Offices

Japan's Industrial Safety and Health Law requires employers to take the following measures as general health standards concerning the environments in factories and offices.

1. Eliminating harmful working environments

a. Eliminating causes of harmful causes

In order to eliminate or reduce harmful effects that may be found at locations where harmful substances are handled, locations where gases, vapors or dust are emitted, locations where workers are exposed to harmful lights or ultrasonic waves, or locations that are contaminated with pathogens, alternative substances shall be used or working methods and machines shall be improved.

b. Limiting the emission of gases, etc.

For indoor workplaces where gases, vapors or dust are emitted, facilities for emission sources airtight, local exhaust ventilation systems, or general ventilation systems shall be installed.

c. Prohibiting the use of internal combustion engines

Machines with internal combustion engines shall not be used at locations where ventilation is likely to be ineffective, including pits, wells, caissons, tanks or holds.

d. Disposal exhaust gas, etc.

(a) Local exhaust ventilation systems that discharge exhaust gas containing harmful substances shall be equipped with exhaust gas disposal devices that can effectively absorb, burn and/or collect dust in response to the types of harmful substances..

(b) Waste liquids containing harmful substances shall be discharged after being treated by effective neutralization, sedimentation and collection methods.

(c) Exhaust gas, waste liquids or waste materials that may be contaminated with pathogens shall be collected at prescribed locations and dumped after sterilization or disinfection.

e. Preventing dust scattering

Water, etc., shall be used to prevent dust from scattering at workplaces where a large amount of dust may be scattered.

f. Limiting carbon dioxide concentrations

The concentration of carbon dioxide in pits shall be limited to 1.5 percent or less.

g. Noise emissions

Indoor workplaces emitting high noises shall be indicated by signs. Noise diffusion shall be limited by partition walls, etc.

2. Prohibiting entry

Entry to the following locations shall be prohibited and notices prohibiting such entry shall be posted.

(a) Locations where large amounts of high-temperature materials are handled or where temperatures are extremely high.

(b) Locations where large amounts of low-temperature materials are handled or where temperatures are extremely low.

(c) Locations where workers may be exposed to harmful lights or ultrasonic waves.

(d) Locations where the concentration of carbon dioxide exceeds 1.5 percent, the concentration of oxygen is below 18 percent or the concentration of hydrogen sulfide exceeds 10 parts per million (ppm).

3. Measurement of working environments

Working environments shall be measured and the results of such measurements shall be recorded for indoor workplaces where temperatures are extremely high or low, or humidity is very high, or those where harmful operations are being carried out.

4. Personal protective equipment, etc.

a. Respiratory protective equipment

Workers shall be required to use protective clothing, glasses, and respiratory protective equipment when they are engaged in operations at locations where temperatures are extremely high or low, or in operations involving harmful substances.

b. Impermeable protective clothing, etc.

IWorkers shall be required to use ointments, impermeable protective clothing, or protective gloves or shoes when they handle substances that may cause skin disorders.

c. Earplugs

Earplugs and similar protective devices shall be used when workers are engaged in operations at workplaces where strong noises are dominant.

5. Cubic volume of air and lighting, etc.

a. Cubic volume of air

The cubic volume of air in indoor workplaces shall be 10 cubic meters per person or more.

b. Ventilation

Openings that are opened directly to the outside air, including windows, at indoor workplaces where workers are engaged in work at all times, shall be one-twentieth or larger of the floor space of the relevant workplace (except for cases where adequate ventilation is otherwise maintained).
Workers shall not be exposed to air currents of one meter/second (m/sec) or more when the indoor temperature is 10 degrees C (oC) or lower.

c. Lighting

The illumination at working faces shall be 300 luxes or more for precision work, 150 luxes for normal work and 70 luxes for rough work.
Lighting shall be maintained to ensure that the difference between bright and dark sides is minimized and that workers are not subject to glare. Lighting facilities shall be inspected at least once for every six months.

d. In-pit temperatures

Temperatures in pits shall be maintained at 37 degrees C (°C) or lower.

6. Resting facilities, etc.

In every workplace, there shall be installed appropriate resting facilities, separate facilities for male and female workers to take naps when they work at night, washing facilities for workers likely to become dirty during their work, drying facilities for work clothes, drinking water facilities, and separate rest rooms for male and female workers.

(Regulations concerning the prevention of organic solvent poisoning will be discussed in the next session)