Week Commencing 03/07/2023 – In The News

HSE launches manufacturing inspection initiative focusing on respiratory risks from silica

worker wearing respiratory protective equipmentHealth and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have begun a targeted inspection initiative focusing on manufacturing businesses where materials that contain silica are used. This will include brick and tile manufacturers and foundries.

Exposure to airborne particles of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) can lead to life-changing respiratory conditions such as silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Silica is a natural substance found in most stones, rocks, sand, and clay. Silica particles are produced during many manufacturing tasks involving these materials. Over time, exposure to silica particles can harm a worker’s ability to breathe and cause irreversible, often fatal, lung diseases.

The inspections, which start today (Monday 3 July), are checking that employers and workers know the risks involved when dealing with RCS and that businesses have control measures in place to protect workers’ respiratory health.

Learn more about the initiative on the HSE website.

Last orders? Should we call time on workplace drinking culture?

bottles of alcoholDuring Alcohol Awareness Week, Janet Hadley, Director at Choose Sunrise, says it’s time to rethink the culture around drinking and the workplace.

“Fancy a drink?”

In our society, alcohol has become deeply ingrained as a reward, stress reliever, and social lubricant. This week is Alcohol Change UK’s Alcohol Awareness Week and the theme is Alcohol and Cost, so we’ll be delving into an often overlooked aspect: the cost of alcohol consumption on employers, taking in absence, productivity, mental health, safety risks, and the strategies employers should adopt to mitigate these costs.

Alcohol Change UK estimate that there are 167,000 working years are lost to alcohol each year, at a cost of around £1.2bn to UK employers. With an estimated 3-5% of all absences being alcohol-related, it’s perhaps puzzling to find that many employers continue to use alcohol as the go-to reward and promote booze-fuelled functions, with one in five workers (20%) experiencing pressure to drink from co-workers.

Read more on the SHP website.

Work-related fatality figures published

One hundred and thirty-five workers were killed in work-related incidents in Great Britain in the last year, according to figures published today (Thursday July 6) by the Health and Safety Executive.

The industries with the highest deaths were construction (45), agriculture, forestry, and fishing (21), manufacturing (15), and transportation and storage (15). Agriculture, forestry, and fishing has the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers of all the main industrial sectors followed by waste and recycling.

The annual data release published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain’s workplace regulator, covers the period from April 2022 to March 2023.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries are falls from height (40), being struck by a moving object (29), and being struck by a moving vehicle (20).

The total of 135 worker deaths in 2022/23 is higher than the previous year (123) but is in line with pre-pandemic levels. The figure for 2020/21 was 145.

Great Britain is one of the safest places in the world to work. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries to workers, though in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate was broadly flat.

A further 68 members of the public were killed following a work-related incident in 2022/23. This is a decrease of 20 from last year.

Read more about the figures on the HSE website.

School fined after child severely burned at carol concert

primary school classroomA London primary school has been fined £35,000 after a child received 45 per cent burns to their body at a carol concert.

The school was found guilty after a trial following an incident at a church on 11 December 2019.

During the carol concert, 60 Year 3 children from the school were waiting in costume, in a narrow corridor, holding 10-inch lit taper candles. As they were waiting, a seven-year-old boy wearing a home-made sheep costume made out of cotton wool balls, caught fire.

The fire was extinguished with some difficulty and the child received first aid at the scene before being taken by air ambulance to Broomfield Hospital and found to have sustained an estimated 45 per cent burns to their body.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the school had failed to take appropriate measures to account for the risks inherent with giving lit candles to children, while wearing potentially flammable costumes.

The injuries sustained by the boy will require on-going, regular, invasive surgeries throughout his youth and into adulthood and have been life changing for him and his family.

For more on the incident, visit the SHP website.

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