Week Commencing 05/06/2023 – In The News

Woodworking businesses targeted on HSE inspections to tackle occupational lung disease

Person sawing a piece of woodMany woodworking businesses are ‘endangering workers’ lives’ by not implementing measures required to prevent or control exposure to wood dust says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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, HSE inspectors across Great Britain will be visiting businesses within woodworking industries such as sawmilling, manufacture of composite boards, and carpentry, focusing on the dangers of respiratory risks from wood dust.

Woodworking industries have the potential for high incidence rates of occupational ill-health caused by worker exposure to inadequately controlled wood dust in the workplace, such as sino-nasal cancer, occupational asthma and dermatitis.

Throughout 2023/24, inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers have considered the control measures required to reduce workers exposure to wood dust, that workers understand the risks of exposure to wood dust, and effective control measures have been put in place to protect workers from harm. Inspectors will take enforcement action when necessary to make sure workers are protected.

Read more on the HSE website.

Solar panels – an eco-disaster waiting to happen?

worker fitting solar panels on a roofWhile they are being promoted around the world as a crucial weapon in reducing carbon emissions, solar panels have an average lifespan of 25-30 years.

Experts say billions of panels will eventually all need to be disposed of and replaced.

“The world has installed more than one terawatt of solar capacity. Ordinary solar panels have a capacity of about 400W, so if you count both rooftops and solar farms, there could be as many as 2.5 billion solar panels.,” says Dr Rong Deng, an expert in solar panel recycling at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

According to the British government, there are tens of millions of solar panels in the UK. But the specialist infrastructure to scrap and recycle them is lacking.

Energy experts are calling for urgent government action to prevent a looming global environmental disaster.

“It’s going to be a waste mountain by 2050, unless we get recycling chains going now,” says Ute Collier, deputy director of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“We’re producing more and more solar panels – which is great – but how are we going to deal with the waste?” she asks.

Learn more about the issue on the BBC website.

Working in hot weather: Employers asked to help workers

fanEmployers need to act to make sure their workers are protected during periods of extreme hot weather this summer.

That’s the message from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the country’s workplace regulator.

The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have issued a yellow heat-health alert for the coming days (Friday June 9 through to Monday June 12). The alert is the first to be issued in 2023.

HSE says this alert – and the record high temperatures seen in Great Britain last summer – should prompt employers to take action to protect those working both inside and outside in extreme heat.

There is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces but the regulator is calling on employers to be responsible.

HSE saw a surge in people seeking advice during summer 2022 – with visits to its online hot weather working guidance increasing by nearly a thousand percent and the number of concerns relating to hot weather reported to HSE almost doubling in July, when temperatures exceeded 40oC for the first time in history.

Employers must assess risks to the health and safety of their workers by law, including risks from extreme weather such as heat waves. While there is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces, heat is classed as a hazard and should be treated like other hazards.

For more on the guidance, visit the HSE website.

Business travellers want safety and wellbeing prioritised

Person pulling a suitcaseAlmost three quarters of business travellers (73%) would decline a business trip if they didn’t feel confident their employer was prioritising their safety and wellbeing says a new Opinium* survey of 500 UK-based business travellers, commissioned by World Travel Protection, a leading global travel risk management organisation.

Furthermore, over six in 10 (63%) would quit their job if they felt their safety when travelling was not a priority.

Whilst business travellers generally express high levels of confidence (65%) in their employer’s concern for their wellbeing and safety, the survey reveals that they are given surprisingly low levels of practical support. For example:

  • only one in six (17%) are provided with a travel risk app with live destination alerts and location notification for emergencies;
  • 15% receive a full briefing on the travel destination;
  • 14% are given an emergency number outside of business hours;
  • and only 13% receive regularly check-ins from their employer.

Read more about the survey on the HSM website.

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