Week Commencing 06/09/2021 – In The News

“Don’t let your guard down”, IOSH urges businesses

three people sat on a long desk, social distancingThe Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) today calls on businesses to “not let their guard down” to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t spread rapidly through workplaces.

With children returning to school in much of England this week and people attending sports and music events in their thousands again, many experts are predicting a rise in virus cases.

This is why employers must ensure they continue to have robust measures in place to prevent transmission, says IOSH, adding that now is a good time to review their effectiveness.


Read more about the advice on the IOSH website.

New research by Acas has found that over a third (36%) of British employers have seen their mental health support improve since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Acas commissioned YouGov to ask businesses in Britain about whether they had seen a change to employee mental health and wellbeing support in their organisation since the start of the pandemic. The poll found that:

  • over a third (36%) said it had got betterTwo sets of hands holding a heart (cartoon shape) with a white cross on it
  • nearly 1 in 10 (9%) said it had got worse
  • half (50%) reported it as staying the same
  • 6% of employers did not know

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:

“The pandemic has been a challenging period for everyone and it’s great to see that over a third of bosses have managed to improve their organisation’s mental health support for their staff.

“However, nearly 1 in 10 employers have seen this support deteriorate so it is important for businesses to invest in the wellbeing of their workers as they open up again.

“Acas has good advice and training on how to support and manage mental health and wellbeing at work.”

For more information, visit the Acas website.


Food manufacturer fined after workers are exposed to sulphur dioxide

Potato processing line in factory

A food manufacturing company, based in Holbeach Lincolnshire, has been fined after employees were exposed to sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas released as a result of poor planning and unsafe systems of work during the commissioning and operation of a new potato processing line. 

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard that AH Worth Ltd (formerly known as QV Foods Ltd) purchased a new potato processing line in 2018. The purchased line dipped the cut potatoes into a substance (Microsoak) to prevent them browning. The purchase, installation and commissioning work was poorly planned. During commissioning, the Microsoak gave off sulphur dioxide gas that affected workers in the packhouse. The company made modifications to the line to attempt to cure the problem, but it caused the nozzles on the line to repeatedly block up and more sulphur dioxide to be given off. A maintenance engineer attempting to unblock the nozzles on the 11 June 2018 was badly exposed to the sulphur dioxide. The factory had to be evacuated and other workers in the vicinity were also affected. The maintenance engineer and another worker were so badly affected that they were not able to return to work due to the effects of the gas on their lungs.

Read more about the incident from the HSE.

World Suicide Prevention Day written on calendarWorkplace strategies that could prevent suicide

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, on 10 September, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is sharing ways of helping people at risk.

Almost three-quarters of respondents (72 per cent) in the 2021 IOSH member survey said managing workplace mental health and wellbeing should be part of the occupational safety and health (OSH) role.

Karen Michell, IOSH Research Programme Lead (Occupational Health), said: “Now is the time to raise awareness and upskill where needed, so OSH professionals can identify those at risk, advocate for them in the workplace and refer them on for supportive help as required.”

For more on the suggested strategies, read the full IOSH article.



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