Week Commencing 08/05/2023 – In The News

Employers being impacted as menopause is often misdiagnosed as depression

icons symbolising menopauseEmployers are being impacted by a common misdiagnosis of psychological menopause symptoms, experts have said.

Bosses at digital health app Peppy are warning employers that the condition is often misdiagnosed as depression – which can lead to absence and resignation – other mental health issues or even dementia.

Menopausal staff can suffer memory loss, low self-esteem, disturbed sleep, poor concentration and feelings of dread, anxiety and rage.

And these psychological symptoms are often not properly recognised and wrongly treated with anti-depressants or sleeping tablets.

Kathy Abernethy, Director of Menopause Services, Peppy said: “Menopausal symptoms can have an unexpected impact on the mind and mood of employees and so it’s vitally important that employers understand the physical and psychological effects as they can be unsettling and have just as much impact on work, relationships and daily life as the better-known physical symptoms.

“With it becoming increasingly difficult to get a GP appointment, employers have a great opportunity to step in and support their menopausal staff so that they can receive timely and specialist support from practitioners who are experts in the field and have a greater depth of knowledge about both the physical and psychological aspects of menopause.
“Not only will this directly improve the quality of life for their staff but there will be a great deal less disruption for the employer too.

“There is nothing to lose and everything to be gained from having a workforce better educated about menopause including both the psychological impact of the conditions and the potential for misdiagnosis.”

Learn more on the SHP website.

Resource pressures put HSE effectiveness at risk, warns prospect report

two construction workers on siteSignificant budget cuts and pay constraints have contributed to a capacity and experience crisis in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), putting its effectiveness as Great Britain’s principal safety regulator at risk, warns the trade union Prospect in a new report.

HSE under pressure: A perfect storm, published at the end of last month, identifies the long-term impacts and latent factors that have created this crisis.

Unless the degree of pressure the HSE is under is alleviated soon, at best the HSE will not be able to sustain its reputation as a respected regulator, the trade union argues. At worst, it could result in the HSE struggling to exist, even in a diminished form.

Prospect warns that a decade of reduced funding has affected recruitment, pay and staff morale.

On the issue of HSE resourcing, Prospect’s analysis finds that in cash terms the regulator has experienced cuts of around 45% to its core grant-in-aid funding since 2010. In 2019/20, this funding amounted to £126m and although it increased to £185m in 2021/22, this figure is still significantly lower than the £228m in funding provided in 2009/10, argues Prospect.

However, the trade union adds that after taking additional funding requirements into consideration the 2021/22 figure needs to be adjusted down to £164m.

Turning to the additional income that the HSE receives, Prospect warns that the Fees for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery regime, introduced in 2012, has generated ‘only a fraction of the reduction in grant-in-aid’.

On the issue of staff morale, the trade union argues the government’s tight control over HSE staff’s pay budget has resulted in ‘cumulative below-inflation pay awards’.

As an additional disincentive, the decision to remove the pay progression system in 2013 means there is now ‘no current mechanism for rewarding any developing capability for individual staff’, argues Prospect.

This has resulted in ‘bunching at the lower end of the pay scale for newer starters or those that have been promoted’.

Read more about the report on the IOSH Magazine website.

Worker’s eight fingers amputated after crush

Metal rollersA dad from Devon was left with horrific injuries to his hands after an incident at his work.

Dean Delahaye, from Barnstaple, had to have all eight fingers amputated after his hands were crushed by a metal rolling machine.

The 35-year-old worked for flue and chimney manufacturer SF Limited. He was feeding flat metal sheeting into the machine when the incident took place on 5 September 2019. He spent 54 days in hospital and had numerous operations. More than three years on, he is still waiting for prosthetics to be fitted.

“I have always enjoyed working with my hands and have only ever had manual jobs, but since the accident it will never be possible to return to doing this again,” he said.

“Before my accident I was an independent and sociable person, but I feel this has been taken away from me now.”

Due to the severity of his injuries, Mr Delahaye went on to say how he was even unable to pick up and feed his daughter, who was born after the incident.

For more on the incident, visit the HSM website.

HSE targets construction workers’ lung health with nationwide inspection campaign

Paper lungs held by a pair of handsFailure to prevent life-threatening diseases caused by dust at work is unacceptable, says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as it gears up for a summer targeting construction sites across Great Britain.

Supported by HSE’s Dust Kills campaign, which provides free advice to businesses and workers on the control measures required to prevent exposure to dust, the inspections throughout May, June and July will focus on respiratory risks from exposure to dust.

Each year in the construction industry, there are thousands of preventable cases of irreversible lung disease due to past exposure to dust at work. These diseases often have a life-changing impact and can result in an early death.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Michael Thomas, said: “Every year we see construction workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work. This is unacceptable in the 21st century, when occupational lung disease is preventable.

“We are urging employers and workers to take the necessary precautions today to protect their long-term lung health, to avoid them and their families suffering from the devastating impact that can result.”

Learn more about the campaign on the HSE website.

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