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Does workplace ill health really cost that much?


It’s been a while since we last did a blog so let’s kick it off again with a look at what the Health and Safety Executive (HSEx) will be focusing on in the coming year. You may already be aware that the HSEx publish a look ahead business plan that provides information on up to date statistics, the areas that they are going to focus on and how they are going to tackle these issues going forward.

The most up to date version of their business plan (at time of writing) can be found here. It’s a 40 page document that’s well worth a read but if you don’t have time then read on for our short version. I should stress though, we focus on the health related aspects, after all , that’s would we Occupational Hygienists specialise in.


Here are some headline figures just to whet your appetite:


Source: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1920.pdf


It’s clear to see from the headline figures above that the financial cost of poor Health & Safety in the workplace is eye opening though it may come as a surprise to some that the cost of work related ill health is almost double that of workplace injury. That’s right! the cost of ill health arising from workplace activities is estimated to be a whopping 10.6 Billion!

So, now you know one of the reasons why we take our jobs so seriously, lets have a look at what the HSEx are focusing on in the coming year:


Source: HSE Business Plan 2021/22


There’s no surprise that the first 3 on the list of challenges relates to workplace health issues, but you may be surprised to hear that this will be the fifth consecutive year that the HSEx has focused on tackling three major causes of work related ill health:

· Musculoskeletal Disorders

· Occupational Lung Disease

· Work Related Stress

There is of course a new addition to this list (though it has been a focus are since it emerged on the scene in 2020) that we are all familiar with and that is COVID-19.


Lets have a look at each of these in more detail.


COVID-19

This is still very much a health hazard that must be managed in the workplace not only to protect your workforce, customers and contractors but to also protect business continuity.

The HSEx will align their approach with the government’s plans (England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland) and continue to provide advice and guidance to employers which can be found here. These are designed to help employers support their employees’ health at work and you can be sure that any workplace inspections will involve a review of your existing arrangements.


Musculoskeletal Disorders

With more and more people working from home than ever and people returning to work after prolonged absence due to furlough (or any other reason) may increase the risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders. It is something well worth being aware of and something that should be addressed through introduction of controls as these types of disorders account for 30% of all work-related ill health.

The HSEx have recognised the need for further digital risk assessments in this area and have committed to delivering a new MSD risk assessment toolbox for employers along with the provision of advice on Risk Reduction Through Design Award. You can read more about the Design Award and how to make a nomination here.


Occupational Lung Disease

This is still a considerable area of concern with Occupational respiratory disease estimated to result in approximately 12,000 deaths each year.

In order to tackle this problem the HSEx will focus on reducing the exposure to carcinogens and asthmagens with a particular emphasis on reducing lung disease risks in metal working. So if your business does involve some form of metal working such as welding then you may very well get a visit from the HSEx.

In order to address exposures the HSEx will focus on education on the importance of effective Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) and how it plays a key role in protecting health


Work Related Stress

Stress, depression or anxiety is the most commonly reported cause of work-related ill health in Great Britain, accounting for 51% of all cases, and 55% of all working days lost due to ill health.

In order to help support businesses in the prevention and management of stress the HSEx have developed and continue to develop tools to help facilitate this. Their Talking Toolkit (which can be found here) has proven successful and is continually being enhanced to improve it further. Also keep an eye out for their Work related stress app which they are working on at the moment to support SME’s.


How we can help

At Blue Turtle Ltd, we provide a range of occupational hygiene monitoring services and can help you carry out your occupational health risk assessment. We can also help you to select the optimum control measures, better understand your local exhaust ventilation systems through LEV examination and testing services and carry out occupational exposure monitoring / personal exposure monitoring services to ensure you meet your legal obligations under the COSHH Regulations.

We help businesses of all types manage their workplace health hazards. Our experienced consultants can provide practical advice on how to achieve adequate control through process changes, improvements, or adopting/changing work practices to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable.

Whatever your Occupational Hygiene needs are, Blue Turtle Ltd is here to help your business protect your workforce and help you meet your legal obligations.

Give us a call today to discuss your needs or if you prefer, complete the online form with a brief outline of your business needs and/or concerns.

Blue Turtle - The missing cog in your business health!

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