Health, Safety and Environment Monthly Message

As part of its recently launched ‘Go Home Healthy’ campaign, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have identified three main areas in terms of the protection of workers’ health. The three areas are:

  1. Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders;
  2. Work-Related Lung Disease;
  3. Work-Related Stress.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) include injury and pain to backs, joints and limbs which can affect your quality of life. Both physical and psychosocial factors can contribute to work-related MSDs, and they can be aggravated by people’s activities outside work and their general health and fitness. According to latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (2016), in Great Britain:

  • The total number of MSDs cases in 2015/16 was 539,000 accounting for 41% of all work-related illnesses;
  • An estimated 8.8 million working days were lost due to MSDs, an average of 16 days lost for each case. This accounts for 34% of all working days lost due to work related ill health.
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, transportation and storage and human health and social work activities are industries with significantly higher rates of WRMSDs when compared with the rates for all industries.

Important considerations for MSD’s include:

  • You can do things to prevent or minimise MSDs;
  • the prevention measures are generally cost effective;
  • Early reporting of symptoms, proper treatment and suitable rehabilitation is essential.

There are a variety of precautionary measures an employer can take to reduce the risk of MSDs. The appropriate control measures can depend upon the sort of work undertaken by employees and what is 'reasonably practicable'. The first step is to assess all MSD risks that the tasks generate. Every effort should be made to eliminate as many risks as possible by redesigning the tasks, providing mechanical aids, introducing breaks or job rotation. When considering the risks, potential precautionary measures and solutions, ensure consultation with the workforce as they will often have first-hand knowledge of the risks associated with specific tasks. Once the precautionary measures have been introduced, monitor their effectiveness and ensure these measures have not introduced new risks. The HSE has produced a number of publications that provide potential solutions that may help with the choice of precautionary measure, some of which are industry-specific.

Further information relating to the HSE’s ‘Go Home Healthy’ Campaign is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gohomehealthy/index.htm.

Further information relating to Musculoskeletal Disorders is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/index.htm.

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