Go Home Healthy

If you’ve visited the H&SE website recently you’ll have noticed a new initiative called Go Home Healthy – Shine a Light on Your Business and Ask Yourself Do you #WorkRight?

The H&SE Go Home Healthy campaign shines a spotlight on:

Work-related Lung Disease

Breathing in dust, gases, vapours and fumes at work can cause life-changing lung disease or make existing conditions worse. Do the right thing and protect your workers from work-related lung disease.

The latest stats show that work-related lung disease causes 400,000 working days lost each year and 12,000 deaths each year.

There are various types of occupational lung disease that be caused by exposures in the workplace. They are:

  • Respiratory cancers include lung cancer, which may be caused by a range of exposures – such as asbestos, silica, diesel engine exhaust emissions, and mineral oils – and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs which is caused by asbestos.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a serious long-term lung disease in which the flow of air into the lungs is gradually reduced by inflammation of the air passages and damage to the lung tissue.
  • Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are common types of COPD. A wide range of vapours, dusts, gases and fumes potentially contribute to causing the disease or making it worse.
  • Occupational asthma can be defined as adult asthma that is specifically caused by agents that are present in the workplace; however, a wider definition of work-related asthma includes all cases where there is an association between symptoms and work, including cases that are exacerbated by work.
  • Pneumoconiosis is a long-term and irreversible disease characterised by scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue. The main types of pneumoconiosis are defined in terms of their causative agents: coal worker’s pneumoconiosis due to coal dust exposure, asbestosis due to exposure to asbestos fibres, and Silicosis due to silica dust exposure.
  • Other non-cancerous respiratory diseases include diffuse pleural thickening and pleural plaques (non-malignant diseases of the lung lining caused by asbestos), allergic alveolitis (inflammation of the air sacs within the lungs due to an allergic reaction to organic material), and byssinosis (an asthma like disease in which the air passages become constricted in reaction to exposure to cotton dust).

What is the H&SE Doing to Safeguard Workers?

HSE is working to reduce work-related lung disease using communication, partnerships including establishing a Healthy Lung Partnership, regulatory work in the highest-risk sectors and evidence-based interventions.

What Can You Be Doing to Safeguard Your Workers?

Employers are obliged by law to protect their workers by using:

  • alternative processes;
  • less hazardous materials;
  • enclosures/effective ventilation;
  • protective equipment – as a last resort.

The important thing is to keep workplace air clean.

Good practice in the control of substances hazardous to health can be encapsulated in the eight generic principles set out in Schedule 2A. They must all be applied to obtain effective and reliable control. The principles overlap in their application. They are not ordered by rank – the first is not more important than the last – although there is a logic to their overall order of presentation.

  • Design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health
  • Take into account all relevant routes of exposure – inhalation, skin and ingestion – when developing control measures
  • Control exposure by measures that are proportionate to the health risk
  • Choose the most effective and reliable control options that minimise the escape and spread of substances hazardous to health
  • Where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means, provide, in combination with other control measures, suitable personal protective equipment
  • Check and review regularly all elements of control measures for their continuing effectiveness
  • Inform and train all employees on the hazards and risks from substances with which they work, and the use of control measures developed to minimise the risks
  • Ensure that the introduction of measures to control exposure does not increase the overall risk to health and safety

For full information go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/detail/goodpractice.htm.

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

The term MSD covers any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the neck, shoulders and arms (Upper Limbs), back, or hips, knees and ankles and feet (Lower Limbs).

The latest stats show that there are 507,000 MSD cases each year and 8.9 M working days lost each year due to MSD. MSDs account for 41% of all ill health cases and 34% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Industries with higher than average rates of musculoskeletal disorders include: construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing; transportation and storage; and human health and social work activities.

Key messages about MSDs are:

  • you can do things to prevent or minimise MSDs;
  • the prevention measures are cost effective;
  • you cannot prevent all MSDs, so early reporting of symptoms, proper treatment and suitable rehabilitation is essential.

What is the H&SE Doing to Safeguard Workers?

HSE is working to reduce work-related MSDs using communication, partnerships, regulatory work in the highest-risk sectors and evidence-based interventions.

What Can You Be Doing to Safeguard Your Workers?

There are a number of sections on the H&SE website detailing information (and case studies) on how to minimise MSDs. See:

Work-related Stress

Excessive pressure and demands at work can cause stress. This can lead to chronic physical and mental health conditions.

The latest stats show that 526,000 people suffer from work-related stress, anxiety and depression leading to chronic mental and physical conditions with 12.5M working days lost each year.

What is the H&SE Doing to Safeguard Workers?

HSE is working to reduce work-related stress using communication, partnerships, regulatory work in the highest-risk sectors and evidence-based interventions.

What Can You Be Doing to Safeguard Your Workers?

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. If you have five or more employees, you are required by law to write the risk assessment down.

Any paperwork you produce should help you communicate and manage the risks in your business. For most people this does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points about the significant risks and what you decided.

An easy way to record your findings is by using our risk assessment template.

There is also more information for employers on how to tackle work-related stress at http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm along with a number of case studies which businesses might find useful:

Take Part in the Go Home Healthy Campaign

You can share the word and take part in the H&SE Go Home Healthy campaign.

You can be a part of the H&SE online community and tell them about:

  • what you are doing in your workplace;
  • any ideas you have to reduce these health problems at work.

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