HSE food manufacturing inspections target the causes of workplace ill-health

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Companies and people working in food manufacturing are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace health risks or face serious penalties.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of proactive inspections will review health and safety standards in food manufacturing businesses across the country, and the sector is being warned that a programme of unannounced inspections will begin today (2nd January).

The inspections will focus on two of the main causes of ill-health in the sector which are currently occupational asthma from exposure to flour dust in bakeries, cake and biscuit manufacturers and grain mills and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – predominantly lower back pain and upper limb disorders from manual handling activities and repetitive tasks across the sector.

The inspection visits come as HSE recently released its Manufacturing sector plan which prioritises the reduction of cases of occupational lung disease and MSDs.

Exposure to flour dust is the UK’s second most common cited cause of occupational asthma. MSDs are the most common type of work-related illness in food manufacturing with handling injuries, accounting for around 20% of reported employee injuries (RIDDOR). HSE insists that such ill-health can be prevented when organisations have proper risk control systems in place.

The inspections will ensure measures are being taken by those responsible to protect workers against health risks and HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

HSE’s head of Manufacturing Sector John Rowe, said: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks.

HSE is calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website.

Food manufacturing companies should do the right thing by protecting workers’ health; everyone has the right to go home healthy from work.”

COSHH and bakers – key messages

Substances hazardous to health in baking include:

  • flour dust;
  • improver dusts containing enzymes etc;
  • dusts from protein-containing ingredients such as egg, soya;
  • spices, citrus oils and flavour concentrates;
  • cleaning and disinfectant products.

Dermatitis may result from some bakery tasks, and if hands are wet many times a day or for a lot of the time.

Control measures include:

  • careful working to avoid raising clouds of dust;
  • dust extraction;
  • vacuum or wet cleaning;
  • respirator for very dusty tasks;
  • skin checks.

Example: Flour dust

Flour dust can cause asthma when breathed in.

You must reduce exposure to flour dust as far below the WEL of 10 mg/m3 as is reasonably practicable. You normally need to use health surveillance (Check employees health for any adverse effects related to work. May involve checking skin for dermatitis or asking questions about breathing and may need to done by a doctor or nurse.)

Help in finding the right controls is on the Bakers and asthma website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/asthma/bakers.htm). Control information for flour dust appears in the following information sheets available from the COSHH essentials webpage: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/baking.htm

Employees

Your employer provides equipment to protect your health, such as:

  • dust extraction;
  • personal protective equipment (eg respirator).

You have a duty to use these properly and co-operate with any monitoring and health surveillance.

For advice on preventing and managing musculoskeletal disorders, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/. Alternatively, contact us about any of the above-mentioned issues, on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HSE Business Plan 2017/18

Please note there will be no further updates until Thursday 27th April but if you have any queries or require any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our main office on 01782 751516 or at mail@eljay.co.uk

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The Health and Safety Executive has published its 2017/18 Business Plan. Below, the HSEs Chief Executive Richard Judge, and Chair Martin Temple summarise the regulators ongoing commitments, and key elements the plan takes forward from the overall strategy “Helping Great Britain work well”

“Great Britain has a health and safety record we can all be proud of. We are one of the safest places in the world to work in. Nonetheless, the plateaus we see in our health and safety statistics are also a stark reminder of the challenges we face in continuing to improve Britain’s performance while we adapt to the rapidly changing world around us.

The benefits of continual improvement are substantial: for workers a healthier and safer workplace; for businesses, productivity and innovation; and for the wider economy reducing the £14 billion impact of work-related injuries and ill health, together with enabling the growth opportunities that come with creating a more attractive place to do business.

This plan outlines what HSE will deliver in 2017/18. It does not attempt to capture all that we do. Instead it highlights specific priorities, within an overall framework that reinforces our ongoing commitment to:

  • leading and engaging those who undertake or influence health and safety – capitalising on the enthusiasm and collaboration we have been delighted to see since launching Helping Great Britain work well. This involves using modern communication and technology to change behaviours, and continuing to support our activities through robust science and evidence
  • ensuring the regulatory framework remains effective. This includes making sure that we are delivering the government’s regulatory agenda and supporting the UK’s exit from the European Union
  • securing effective risk management and control through a variety of regulatory tools that involve direct interactions with dutyholders. This includes our licensing activities, sustaining existing levels of intelligence-led inspections and investigating incidents, with people being held to account for their failures through firm, but fair, enforcement of the law
  • reducing the likelihood of low-frequency, high impact catastrophic incidents and the potential for extensive harm to workers and the public. Major hazard dutyholders are subject to a level of regulatory scrutiny proportionate to their risks and performance. This includes considering leadership, workforce competence and engagement, and maintenance of asset integrity

This plan takes forward key elements from HSE’s overall strategy Helping Great Britain work well, in particular:

  • emphasising ill health as we build on the recent launch of our Health and Work programme, with its focus on respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, and occupational stress and related mental health issues
  • reinforcing proportionate approaches by setting expected standards, targeting our intelligenceled interventions, and ensuring any enforcement action takes into account the seriousness of risks. For businesses, and in particular for SMEs, this is seen in the beginning of our work on ‘blue tape’ (where businesses place excessive burdens on each other)
  • ensuring value for money for the taxpayer by reducing our reliance on government funding while continuing to improve our efficiency and effectiveness
  • bringing together the breadth of capability and expertise across HSE, and benefiting from effective collaboration with the many other people and organisations that have a stake in improving health and safety in the workplace

We look forward to your encouragement and contribution as we collectively Help Great Britain work well.”

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/index.htm

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence